11/09/2019 | Hardis Group

Hardis Group is helping finance specialist Locam to identify and automate its repetitive, low-value-added tasks using UiPath Robotic Process Automation. After successfully trialling UiPath for duplicate invoice issuing, and securing business team buy-in, the firm plans to extend the application to other use cases.

Hardis Group, a consulting firm, digital services company and independent software vendor, is helping business leasing company Locam deploy the UiPath Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform. After automating its duplicate invoice issuing process and cutting client response times by 90% in the process, the firm plans to deploy UiPath for other repetitive or low-value-added business processes across its sales administration, debt recovery, IT, and other departments.

Aligning Locam's information system with its strategic imperatives

Locam, a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole Loire-Haute-Loire, delivers a wide range of made-to-measure finance lease, leasing and credit solutions to help its clients—over 3,000 industrial and commercial firms in total—grow their sales.

Hardis Group has been supporting Locam's day-to-day operations since 2004, hosting, managing, upgrading and modernizing its AS/400 core business applications. Over the years, the firm has faced spiraling costs as it has sought to keep its legacy information system aligned with its strategic and operational imperatives. Locam's IT department launched an ambitious transformation plan in 2017 to address this issue. "The biggest task we face is replacing our AS/400 ERP system with an off-the-shelf application", explains Sylvain Bergeron, Head of IT Transformation at Locam.

In May 2018, ahead of deployment of the new system, the IT department began exploring ways to automate some operational processes without spending heavily on the legacy ERP. It was at that point that Hardis Group's consultants recommended the UiPath RPA platform. "As well as achieving efficiency gains on repetitive, low-value-added tasks, we also wanted to get to grips with these new tools", says Jessie Charpy, Head of Flows and Client Orientation.

Three RPA-eligible processes chosen with business-line input

Locam's IT department, supported by Hardis Group consultants, asked operations department managers to find repetitive, low-value-added tasks that could be automated. Three RPA-eligible processes were identified: issuing duplicate invoices (Locam issues over 1,500 each month), inputting finance lease agreements (the sales administration team inputs over 3,500 such agreements into the system each month), and updating bank details in the ERP (the firm processes 1,250 requests each month). "After conducting a feasibility study and calculating the ROI on automating these processes, we came to a decision in December 2018: to pilot UiPath for the duplicate invoice issuing process", adds Charpy.

The project began in January 2019. It took just four months to deploy the infrastructure, install the application, develop the process, and integrate UiPath with the necessary system components (ERP, email system, EDM and Excel). "The UiPath RPA platform handles inquiries submitted via the website directly", continues Charpy. "When clients contact our customer service department, the request is input manually into the ERP system, at which point UiPath takes over. All requests are compiled into a file each morning, then duplicate invoices are issued automatically".

Requests processed in 24 hours, business teams freed up from time-consuming tasks

The benefits of automating this pilot task were immediately clear: duplicate invoice requests are now turned around in 24 hours, compared with 10 days previously. "Our staff are delighted", says Charpy. "They see the RPA platform as an ally—something that takes an unproductive, time-consuming task off their hands. We now handle 90% of duplicate invoice requests without human intervention. Mistaken requests are processed again the next morning by a member of the team".

The pilot phase convinced Locam's operations teams of the practical benefits of the RPA system. The company has now begun deploying it for a second process: inputting finance lease agreements (a task currently performed by the sales administration team). Locam is expected to roll out UiPath for bank detail (IBAN) updates, as well as three other processes, later this year.

Promising potential across all business lines

UiPath has sparked interest among all of Locam's operations departments, with customer services, sales administration, accounts, IT and other units currently considering what tasks could be automated—including overdue invoice reminders, testing and acceptance testing, and more. "Initially, we thought UiPath would be little more than a temporary fix for some of the issues with our ERP,” says Bergeron." But it's become a strategic part of our information system as we look to transform our business".

"One of the reasons it's been such a success is that the IT department worked closely with our business-line teams", adds Charpy. "And, of course, we're immensely grateful to Hardis Group for their support at every stage of the project—not least in helping us realize UiPath's full potential".