With 87.23% man-hours savings, UiPath helps Expo Group re-invest employee time into more result-oriented customer interactions, improving both customer satisfaction and employee productivity.
Expo Group, Bangladesh is a diversified conglomerate with business interests in international freight forwarding, airlines GSA, aviation, cargo, warehousing, infrastructure development and renewable energy among others. Established in 1981, the group has over 2000 employees working across Bangladesh.
Over the last 4 years, the group had been experiencing steady growth. However, going forward, a key concern was how to grab market opportunities fast enough to press the accelerator on future growth.
In February 2019, the management identified a two-pronged approach around improving customer satisfaction and optimizing process excellence to meet this objective. But, the manual processes served as the biggest roadblock in its way.
Expo Group realized that significant time and human effort was going into processes that didn’t require human intelligence and were sequential and repetitive in nature. This was taking precious man-hours away from tasks that actually required human-to-human interactions to take customer satisfaction to the next level.
Adding more manpower for the customer facing interactions would have increased the overhead costs. On the other hand, the employees working on the repetitive processes were getting demoralized owing to the mundane nature of the tasks, impacting productivity.
Maintaining accuracy in the processes was another key challenge owing to high chances of human error. The group was experiencing error occurrence of almost 17% on average.
Additionally, Expo Group was finding it difficult to meet the compliance requirements in step with business growth. It requires tallying data, generating audit logs, creating reports, etc. as per the stipulated guidelines. As business volumes increased, this became more time consuming, leading to delays in meeting compliance deadlines.
According to M h Khusru, CEO & Director, Expo Group, “We realized that technology intervention was required to automate the non-productive tasks. This would free up our employees to be more resourcefully engaged in providing relationship-oriented services that add value for our customers and business.”
Faisal Mohammad, Head of Automation & Security, Expo Group and the group’s RPA champion started researching on the right technology solution and RPA appeared to be the most suitable option. He found RPA’s approach of automating rule-based repetitive and bulk jobs with higher accuracy and better utilization of man-hours as the right fit to his requirement.
UiPath’s Strong Support Network Helps Build Confidence
Finding the most suitable RPA platform was Faisal’s next task. He undertook a comprehensive exercise of conducting demos with multiple platforms, including Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath.
The tools were evaluated on three key selection criteria - market positioning, the tool’s popularity including the support available and how steep the learning curve was. The UiPath Enterprise RPA platform emerged on top across all these three evaluation criteria.
Faisal Mohammad Head of Automation & Security at Expo Group
We found UiPath’s strong support network, including its online tools, resources and Academy, to be unparalleled. This made the entire learning curve very fast. We loved how easy it was to get started with UiPath.
More specifically, he found Blue Prism to be lacking on the front office automation and costing front while Automation Anywhere had a steep learning curve with pure coding background required to get started.
“We found UiPath’s strong support network, including its online tools, resources and Academy, to be unparalleled. This made the entire learning curve very fast. We loved how easy it was to get started with UiPath.”
Besides ease of use, Faisal was also impressed with its communities building and publishing tools that can be easily downloaded and plugged in. In particular, he found UiPath Go marketplace with real production solutions, workflows, connectors and dashboards to be of great value.
PoC Success Leads to Automating End-to-End Freight Forwarding
Expo Group started its RPA journey with an initial Proof of Concept (PoC) for the customer booking system. The success of the PoC buoyed the confidence to automate the end-to-end freight forwarding process.
The repetitive nature and bulky volumes of the process made it a low hanging fruit and the right candidate to get started with. The freight forwarding process can be further broken down into the following processes - Booking Received, Confirmed, Cargo Received and Shipped.
Robo2mation, the implementation partner, designed an attended solution with user intervened final ‘save/commit’ and after a pilot run for 4 weeks to rub-off rough edges, the implementation was completed.
Post automation with UiPath Enterprise RPA platform, the process works as follows:
Step 1: The UiPath Robot receives and confirms export booking from the manufacturers in the buyer’s portal as ‘Confirmed Booking’.
Step 2: The Robot receives cargo and updates ‘Confirmed Booking’ to ‘Received Cargo’ as per actual quantity.
Step 3: The Robot then plans shipment as per the carrier schedule, dispatches cargo and updates ‘Received Cargo’ to ‘Shipped Cargo’ with all the additional details.
The UiPath Robot identifies and reads source files from where it collects all the booking, receiving and shipping related data. It then logs into a web-based system and makes all inputs without error.
The automated system has several checks and balances built in for greater redundancy. For instance, in case of an invalid booking, the Robot automatically rejects it and sends a notification to the exporter to re-submit the booking. If exceptions are found, the Robot emails the details to a human user for manual posting.
UiPath Leads to 87.23% Man-Hours Savings
The success achieved with the automation of the freight forwarding process using just one attended Robot has been phenomenal. Expo Group can now do things faster and more productively.
According to Faisal, “The UiPath Robot has brought the average handling time to do the booking, receiving and shipping related activities down from 8.35 man hours every day to 48 minutes. This is a huge saving of 87.23% man-hours.”
Faisal Mohammad Head of Automation & Security at Expo Group
The UiPath Robot has brought the average handling time to do the booking, receiving and shipping related activities down from 8.35 man hours every day to 48 minutes. This is a huge saving of 87.23% man-hours.
“UiPath has helped us free up significant man-hours from unproductive tasks and re-invest them into higher value tasks such as providing a more interactive customer relationship. It has helped us improve our overall customer satisfaction levels as well as generate more sales leads that were cultivated through more productive interactions,” he added.
Importantly, the employees who were earlier frustrated working on mundane tasks, now feel empowered as they get to work on more challenging responsibilities. The resultant satisfaction has helped improve employee productivity and the quality of work.
The UiPath Enterprise RPA platform has also given a spur to accuracy levels with the error rates being reduced by 99.97%. Compliance is another area to benefit significantly from the automation. With several compliance documents required to be prepared and each requiring input of hundreds of data points, it was not only time consuming but also prone to errors.
System generated audit logs post automation help ensure data integrity as well as process follow-ups and follow-ons. Thus, automatically ensuring adherence to the compliance requirements and saving precious man-hours.
The business case/ROI assessment conducted by Expo Group has shown considerable savings. Figure 1 shows a simulation through 5 years of the group’s net savings through RPA.
Future RPA Expansion Roadmap
Having tasted this initial success and getting a better understanding of how RPA can help, Expo Group is now planning to automate more processes through the technology.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 87.23% Man-Hours Saved
- 1Number of UiPath Robots currently in production at Expo Group
- 1Number of processes automated
- 6Number of processes in pipeline for automation
Faisal and his team are currently in the process of identifying potential areas to automate mundane tasks using RPA. Among the processes under consideration are accounts payable, accounts receivable, data reconciliations, etc.
“With its commitment to business outcome linked approach to automation, UiPath has been a strong pillar of our RPA journey. Now as we plan to scale up, we are together exploring more avenues that can help us save costs, improve productivity and fill up the gap areas towards becoming a more profitable business,” concluded Mahbubul Anam, Managing Director, Expo Group.