Firstsource, a part of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, is a provider of business process management solutions to more than 100 global businesses in the banking and financial services, healthcare, communications, media and technology, and diversified industries.
A publicly traded company on the Indian Stock Exchange, Firstsource employs over 26,000 people across the US, the UK, India and the Philippines. Firstsource’s ‘Digital First, Digital Now’ approach optimizes business strategies by leveraging diverse technologies including automation, IoT, AI/ML, and cloud-based services underpinned by the people & technology transformation framework. This drives an organizational digital ecosystem to enable personalized customer experiences, innovative business models, better business outcomes, and workforce empowerment.
Origins of the Citizen Development Program at Firstsource
With remote working becoming the norm in the light of the pandemic, there has been rapid progression in digital transformation across several industries. Specifically, automation has now emerged as a key lever to increase employee efficiency and to accelerate business delivery. The urgency and need for automation is stronger now, more than ever. However, for digital transformation to happen faster, the key is to democratize automation. Firstsource, a provider of Business Process Management (BPM) services, was looking to achieve this by giving people the tools and skills that enable them to identify opportunities and then design and build their own automation solutions.
To enable this, Firstsource Solutions launched their Firstsource Automation League program, a citizen developer-led program in September 2020. As a first step, the company launched a pilot to put this citizen development model to test across two of its largest business units.
Sundara SukavanamChief Digital Officer at Firstsource
The urgency and need for automation technologies is stronger now than ever. As part of the First Automation League pilot program, citizen developers have built over hundred bots using UI Path’s Studio X platform. The program is helping build a digital mind-set culture across Firstsource, driving innovation, boosting efficiency and enhancing customer experience.
Building Skill and Mindset
The training methodology was developed in collaboration with UiPath. Citizen developers were trained through gamification techniques on UiPath’s platform to identify tasks amenable to automation. Even without prior programming experience, employees were able to prioritize tasks perfect for automation using Automation hub as well as build, publish and run their own automations on the no-code platform Studio X with pre-designed templates.
In partnership with digital transformation trainers Tiny Magiq, Firstsource also developed a curriculum harnessing the motivational techniques around the cumulative power of small changes. This is based on Stanford behavioral scientist B.J. Fogg’s model of creating tiny habits.
Targeting the Right Processes for Savings in Time and Cost
The participants were quite clear about the tasks they wanted to automate. The pilot program was highly successful as 170+ automation ideas and 100+ robots were created in a span of 10 weeks, adding tremendous value to internal processes by reducing errors and freeing up time. It also helped drive innovation to boost top-line revenues and bottom-line profitability.
Jayashree AchariaVP Transformation Advisory Practice
People are happiest when they’re productive—and that means achieving more, not doing more. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) frees them from tedious and repetitive admin chores, giving them more time to delight customers. Traditionally, it’s worked top down, with the IT team providing solutions for key workforce challenges. But things slow down as challenges pile up in the IT inbox. By January 2021, the robots were ready to be used by 1000+ Firstsourcers.
Rewards and recognition play an important role too. The ‘Citizen Developers’ acted as proud evangelists for automation, created positive internal PR while bringing in excitement and momentum. The recognition also helped create a set of ‘Power Users’ who not only created and shared more robots within their line of business unit, but also worked alongside IT to identify automation opportunities for use in the wider organization.
Use Case Deep Dive
For example, a project team member at Firstsource with no prior knowledge of coding created a software assistant that automates 90% of the holiday hours that she had to enter manually in the past. This allowed her to focus on high-value tasks while also saving $2,400 a year. Similarly, one of the team leaders began using a bot to pull together time-consuming summary reports collecting data from team members and collating it in a spreadsheet which was validated and sent forward. The bot saves a total of 460 days’ worth of employee hours a year, leading to $56,355 in business savings.
Road ahead for Automation at Firstsource
Firstsource is mulling over expanding automation to many other organization wide processes.
Vivek IrudayarajSVP Operations
We are assessing the future scope of automation. There are mundane and routine tasks being performed by people. We are trying to understand how we can insert robots into those processes and ease them. Our idea of automation is to use robots for monotonous, mundane and error prone tasks.
The democratization of automation is gaining strength by integrating people, processes, and technology to drive meaningful business outcomes. Citizen development programs such as Firstsource Automation League will allow today’s enterprise workforce to be far more productive in a digital-first era.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 95%Hike in efficiency
- 460Days, employee hours saved in a year
- 100%Accuracy for processes
- 170+Automation ideas
- 100+Robots implemented