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A leading global business conglomerate, Piramal Group operates in Pharma, Financial Services, Real Estate, and Glass Packaging. Over the four decades of its existence, the group has grown rapidly, with offices in over 30 countries and a global brand presence in more than 100 markets.
Inefficient manual processes presented a roadblock to the digital transformation agenda for Piramal Group. The UiPath partnership with robotic process automation (RPA) center of excellence (CoE) helped automate 60 processes, paving the way for greater digitalization while driving key business outcomes around cost, speed and accuracy.
Being a highly diversified business with geographically dispersed presence, Piramal Group realized the need to streamline its operations across all businesses to support its ambitious growth plans in the digital era. As this steered the discourse around business transformation with digital at the core, automation emerged as a key pivot.
In 2018, as we set about strengthening our future digital transformation (DX) strategy to stay competitive and drive the next phase of growth, we realized we couldn’t possibly achieve our DX goals without transforming and streamlining our processes. DX involves fundamental transformation of business and this requires automating the underlying processes. This is where robotic process automation becomes key.
Viral Gandhi • President and Global CIO, Piramal Group
Under strategic leadership, Tech and Digital team created a vision: ASPIRE (Aspire to be a Strategic Partner through Innovative solutions for Rapid growth Enablement). They then opted to go the proactive route of building a larger ecosystem with a more holistic approach to automation as an enabler, as opposed to a piece-meal approach of solving just 1 or 2 specific business problems. Thus the way for setting up of RPA center of excellence (CoE) was paved.
In 2018, Piramal Group launched the RPA CoE with the mission of testing waters with automation. However, bringing the CoE to fruition beyond the drawing board and scaling it up to truly leverage RPA’s potential around cost, efficiency and accuracy in processes across the group required handholding.
“When we started the CoE, neither RPA as a technology was mature enough, nor was our expertise in it. We needed a partner who could bring the right technology expertise and help build a strong foundation for the CoE through strategic partnership,” explains Viral Gandhi.
Having decided to go the partnership route, Piramal Group’s Tech & Digital team set about the task of evaluating key RPA vendors, including UiPath, through proof of concept (PoC). The economics with UiPath provided the perfect way for the group to get started with experimenting with RPA initially and then scaling up as success stories started building.
However, cost was not the only criteria that helped UiPath gain an edge over its peers. The group’s Tech team was particularly impressed by the superior technological capabilities of UiPath, ease of use and the strong support network provided by its vast ecosystem.
Piramal team was very clear on avoiding a complex technology that would make the learning curve steep, slowing down the whole progress. The simple and flexible architecture of the UiPath Platform promised ease of implementation and use.
“In UiPath we found a partner offering the depth and breadth of RPA technology to cover all functions across all business verticals. This was particularly important considering the CoE needs to cater to all the diverse businesses of Piramal Group. It demonstrated the capability to handhold the CoE from conceptualization through experimentations to full-blown large-scale projects,” says Viral Gandhi.
The collaborative community platform of developers built by UiPath also offered the added advantage of a forum to post any problems, find solutions, and learn from other organizations. The trainings and certifications by UiPath also proved equally helpful.
In UiPath we found a partner offering the depth and breadth of RPA technology to cover all functions across all business verticals. This was particularly important considering the CoE needs to cater to all the diverse businesses of Piramal Group. It demonstrated the capability to handhold the CoE from conceptualization through experimentations to full-blown large-scale projects
Viral Gandhi • President & Global CIO, Piramal Group
As the RPA CoE became operational in October 2018, a key task in hand was identifying the right processes for automation and prioritizing them for optimal results.
The group was eyeing RPA to solve pertinent issues around errors, delays and compliance, owing to the manual interventions across all major processes, as well as to bring down business and IT costs. However, getting started with the right processes was important in order not to derail the whole effort.
Having a strong governance structure and framework for assessing a process before onboarding was crucial to ensuring long-term returns on its automation. The framework considered various factors like process frequency, whether it is an end-to-end process, if there is decision making involved, complexity based on the number of hopping to multiple systems, and so forth.
At the start of the CoE journey, the focus of Piramal Tech Team was to pick the low-hanging fruits—in terms of processes that are simple, extremely repetitive, with lot of manual intervention and that can bring in quick RoI. The first success with these built the Tech team’s confidence to then move to automating medium and high complexity processes.
UiPath technology complementing the CoE’s strong governance structure has helped pave the CoE’s growth over the last 18 months. The centrally managed CoE’s pool of resources regularly engage with the business functions to understand their pain points and how automation can help address those. The solution is then done along with the implementation partner on the UiPath Enterprise RPA Platform.
Today, even as the CoE operations are streamlined, UiPath continues to be part of major business and Tech team presentations to propose and jointly work on solutions to the given business problems.
With the handholding from UiPath, Piramal Group has been able to successfully scale up its RPA CoE from an experiment to a key pillar of group’s digital transformation strategy.
The proof lies in the results. From zero to 60 processes automated across the group, with just 13 Bots. The 60 processes that Piramal has automated in the 18 months of RPA CoE have already resulted in 36 FTE savings while saving over 5,760 hours per month.
Among the key processes automated include CAM generation, CIBIL report generation, PO invoice processing, automated customer complain management in a validated pharma environment, etc., across functions and business verticals.
Another UI path bots unique and innovative implementation was “Robotic Test Automation” for very business-critical ERP application (SAP ECC 6.0) for pharma business under strict FDA’s software implementation guideline.
All the saved FTEs have been optimized and re-allocated to more business enabling and productive functions that would have otherwise required hiring new people. Besides cost savings, the move away from mundane and repetitive tasks helped boost the employees’ morale and satisfaction levels. They are now able to utilize their time in decision-making processes instead of spending it on browsing, consolidating and making reports.
For Piramal group, the return on investment on RPA goes beyond the cost savings. A key component of the RoI on the RPA CoE is the 100% accuracy achieved across the 60 automated process, besides almost 50% improvement in Turnaround Time (TAT). All these collective gains have brought about a significant improvement in overall process efficiencies.
Besides accuracy, RPA has helped with 24/7 availability of key processes with the unattended bots. The bot makes sure that the process is up and running, even on a Saturday and Sunday. Most importantly, compliance adherence has gone up significantly considering a bot is more reliable, given that it will not cause any of the mistakes that humans can unintentionally make.
“UiPath has been a key pillar of our RPA success story. As our strategic partner for the RPA CoE, it has helped us realize the technology’s business value around all key metrics of cost, efficiency and accuracy. More importantly, it has helped build RPA as a whole enabler for business than just one of the many technology plugs,” says Viral Gandhi.
With the initial skepticism around job losses negated and the strong business value demonstrated, the CoE is seeing a strong pull for automation from the business functions themselves.
Piramal has achieved the first part of their CoE’s KRA which is getting technology ready for the business. Next step is getting the business ready for the technology, and having individual business play an active role in building and scaling up the overall process portfolio. This is the level of maturity that Piramal has achieved over the last one and half years since the CoE’s inception.
As the next step, the CoE aims to further enhance the automation capabilities through leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence/machine learning, especially with UiPath AI Fabric. It is also planning to leverage the OCR capabilities to cover several use cases that involve hand-written invoices and semi-structured invoices.
UiPath has been a key pillar of our RPA success story. As our strategic partner for the RPA CoE, it has helped us realize the technology’s business value around all key metrics of cost, efficiency and accuracy. More importantly, it has helped build RPA as a whole enabler for business than just one of the many technology plugs.
Viral Gandhi • President & Global CIO, Piramal Group
An integrated approach towards RPA is also on the agenda, by collaborating with the group’s other digital CoEs to bring onboard more processes and deliver greater value. Meanwhile, another focus is to cut down on the development timelines to bring down costs and enable faster implantation.
“Today, RPA as a technology and UiPath as a partner are an integral part of Piramal Group’s digital transformation journey. UiPath is more than just a license and technology support provider as it continuously engages with us on solving business problems. It will remain our strategic partner to scale automation as well as bring innovation as we see immense value associated with our partnership,” concludes Viral Gandhi.
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