While Ernst & Young (EY) and UiPath set out to enhance the SAP user experience across a global organization, what they achieved was even bigger: the world’s largest-ever global RPA implementation of attended bots. The solution helped EY save significantly on employee training costs—and enabled staff to spend more time serving clients and boosting revenue in lieu of admin tasks. Now, it’s paving the way for other companies’ successes.
Navigating usability challenges
To operate at such a massive scale, EY requires the highest degree of process efficiency—both internally and for its customers. So when EY teams unveiled a new SAP solution to help improve internal operations with its customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, a majority of its 260,000+ employees needed to adapt. But occasional users who needed to use it once or twice a month struggled to learn how to complete tasks in the new system.
“We had invested time, money, and resources in a new software—and we wanted to get the full benefits of it,” said Goutham Goudgere, Senior Manager, Consulting Services at EY. The only way to do that would be for users to understand how to use the system correctly…but we were seeing challenges with user adoption and users were constantly asking
SAP-centric tasks like creating clients in the CRM, entering billing information, and tracking time and expenses to customer invoices are integral to the EY business. With the significant process changes in conjunction with the new applications, employees were submitting documents with incomplete or inaccurate data and requiring technical assistance and additional support desk resources.
EY needed to make the SAP environment more accessible for the 80% of its workforce that relies on it for occasional (yet critical) tasks. The company needed a solution to enhance the software and transform tasks with an end result that would:
• Enable complete, accurate data entry
• Offer a seamless user experience
• Eliminate the need for additional employee training
• Empower staff with how-to information
• Decrease the time employees spend on data entry
Goudgere and the rest of the EY SAP team were already looking to the future—determining how they could merge the advanced technology EY uses with the existing SAP to maximize its value and save on employee training costs.
We had invested time, money, and resources in a new software platform—and we wanted to get the full benefits out of it. The only way to do that would be for users to understand how to use the system correctly... We asked ourselves, ‘What if a bot could sit on the user’s screen?’ Given the number of systems we had, RPA was the only thing that made sense.
Senior Manager, Consulting Services, Ernst & Young
Leveraging RPA to transform the workflow:
EY was already deploying unattended bots for certain internal processes—so why not leverage them for data collection? The SAP team began by creating a pilot program with a user-friendly input screen to guide employees through various tasks. The only problem? It didn’t talk to the back end of the SAP system, which meant Goudgere’s team had to transfer data to an Excel sheet and use unattended robots to categorize and store the data. Users would either have to learn a new screen or data would have to be manually collected on the back end—leading to delays and rendering this solution ineffective at scale.
Then, a lightbulb moment. “We realized it would be ideal to continue using the existing SAP screens, while eliminating the complexity. We asked ourselves, ‘What if a bot could sit on the user’s screen?,’” said Goudgere. “[We have to assume] users will be distracted and we can’t expect them to finish a process end-to-end—it’s part of their job to go and check their emails.”
The answer: attended automation. Attended robots could not only walk users through the existing SAP screen, but they could work synergistically with human activity, pause when the user pauses, and integrate seamlessly into a typical workflow.
Implementing attended automation at scale
In mid-2018, EY enlisted UiPath to bring this vision to life quickly and efficiently. No partner had attempted attended automation at such a large scale and across so many different countries and networks. EY explored various vendors to find a partner who could match the features and functionalities they needed—but it was no contest.
“UiPath’s attended automation offering was the leader. Given the size of EY, we needed to work with another organization that could support the scale of the implementation,” said Goudgere. “We had several calls with [Vice President, Global Partners, RPA] Sean Adee to ensure alignment from a leadership perspective and [know] there would be support for EY.”
The size and infrastructure of UiPath meant that support was always there when EY needed it. With strategic guidance from the UiPath Global Business Development team, EY was able to build the bots in about eight months—and roll them out over another eight months.
Ushering clients into a new era
Advanced automation was a natural evolution for the EY team—and for EY clients. As of Q1 2020, the company reached 100,000 attended bots and 2,000 unattended bots installed globally. After implementing RPA internally, EY can now bring its firsthand learnings to clients looking to increase productivity and efficiency.
“When you think about our clients’ personnel—their roles and time are valuable,” said Jeffrey Aldridge, EY Americas Intelligent Automation Leader. “If we can help them leverage attended automation to increase the productivity of their talented teams, they can turn that freed up time into helping the organization find new sources of revenue and/or identify additional areas for process improvement and cost savings.”
Now, EY has the tools to translate this value to clients—and clients can feel confident knowing they’re getting a tested solution from a trusted partner.
Generating Lasting Value
This first-of-its-kind idea has established EY as a leader in intelligent automation (IA). It’s also helped EY avoid significant employee training costs, slashed time spent on burdensome tasks, and empowered employees to focus on value-generating activities. The 15 core tasks that are now assisted by attended bots are key aspects of the EY revenue stream. They are now able to count the business improvement-focused SAP implementation as profitable.
“The transactions powered by this automation really drive the profitability, the margins, for the entire firm,” said Sanjay Sadasivan, Senior Manager, Consulting Services, Ernst & Young. “Even on an individual employee level, these improvements can result in huge savings for EY.”
Achieving attended automation at such a massive scale has created a roadmap for not only the success of EY, but for other companies looking to achieve similar results. After building and deploying RPA, EY knows the ins and outs of the platform—and how it can be harnessed in infinite ways to drive organizational efficiency and results. What’s more is that the solution can scale with EY’s customers—from medium-sized business to large global forces.
These transactions powered by this automation really drive the profitability, the margins, for the entire firm. Even on an individual employee level, these improvements can result in huge savings for EY.”
Senior Manager, Consulting Services, Ernst & Young
BY THE NUMBERS
- 1000Employees using RPA at EY
- 1.5 yearstranslating from concept to reality
- 1,000,000Transactions completed per year with RPA
- 15 processesUsing attended automation