The outsourcing of business processes has long been part of the armoury of organisations around the world – realising cost efficiencies and freeing up internal resource by having a third party service provider perform certain labour intensive processes on their behalf, such as data processing, claim processing, finance and accounting, customer service, and other back office activities.
Increasingly, these processes can be automated through robotic process automation (RPA), either running internally or wholly outsourced and managed by the third party.
But what of those stubborn processes that are partly repetitive and repeatable but are also hard to automate because they contain significant amounts of unstructured data or are short-lived and intermittent? Outsourcing will deliver some benefits but adding automation to parts of the process delivers even more benefits; while RPA on its own may not be able to handle the non-standard and varying formats. And if the processes are short-lived or intermittent rather than continuous, the cost of devising a solution may seem to outweigh the benefits.
However, there is a solution to this paradox – which at NashTech we call automation-enabled outsourcing (AEO). This is a blend of automation and human analysis that seeks to unlock the benefits on both sides for clients: the speed and cost efficiency of automation, supplemented by human judgement where needed.
We have built an accelerator platform – the NashTech Automation Platform (NAP) – specifically to deal with these cases. NAP enables task automation previously done by humans, applying the automation of repetitive and rule-based processes. The platform means that pre-existing solutions can be adapted to specific cases, so that work doesn’t have to start from scratch each time – saving clients time and money.
On top of this automation, however, we also build in significant human interaction where needed, so that human checking, decision-making or approval can be applied.
An example of this in action is work that we perform for a global electronics manufacturer. They have a need for thousands of invoices that are issued on their behalf by distributors to be checked on a monthly basis to ensure goods are being properly invoiced with the correct discounts or promotion schemes applied. Through UiPath technology, we are able to ingest all the invoices and run them through our automated solution. But given the unstructured format (free text invoices) and exceptional cases, there is a need for some items to be checked further by our human team. Without automation, the task would take a team of people potentially thousands of hours; without people, the automation may not pick up on certain outliers and anomalies. Working together, a solution is possible which provides high accuracy in very short turnaround times. This client saw a reduction in human effort of over 90% with accuracy of 99.8% through the solution delivered.
It really is a case of ‘human meets machine’. Another use case is for a financial services organisation to help with the processing of customer applications for their products. The applications contain large amounts of data which can be processed, but also require human decision-making as to whether to approve them or not. We have built a solution through NAP where a bot scans the applications and ingests the data. The bot highlights those cases that may contain exceptions or potential anomalies – which our human team can then analyse in more detail and make a suggestion for the client to review.
This is another example of how automation enabled outsourcing can provide clients with high quality and faster delivery, at lower cost. We are planning to take it even further by developing more powerful AI-based algorithms that can be applied to the data, minimising further the need for any human involvement. It’s an exciting field that is developing fast as technology continues to evolve.
In the meantime, if your business has a number of those ‘awkward’ processes that are hard to automate and too big for people to handle on their own, maybe automation enabled outsourcing holds the answer.
We would be delighted to talk to you about how automation enabled outsourcing may be able to help your business and demonstrate our capabilities so you can see how human meets machine. Get in touch today.