• Laurent Silczak

What is Robotic Process Automation? (And why is it great for Lyreco)


ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION is a range of solutions designed to free employees from performing repetitive, time-consuming tasks (such as copying data from one application to another) through automated processes, or bots. This will allow them to devote more attention to value-adding activities, such as interacting with customers or working on internal projects.


RPA bots are developed using low-code environments, which are essentially drag-and-drop rules and conditions.


Since January 2021, as part of the RPA Project, the Lyreco IS Innovation Team has been testing the MICROSOFT POWER PLATFORM, which allows users to develop business use-cases for both local countries and groups, for any business unit, including finance, marketing, supply chain, customer service, etc.


The POWER PLATFORM is part of the Microsoft Ecosystem, presenting many possibilities for compatibility with different applications such as Excel, Teams, Sharepoint, Outlook, and more.

It’s also connected with the Lyreco Applicative Landscape (Webshop, SAP, Zendesk, etc.) and the new architecture (APIs, connectors, virtual machines, etc.)

We are also currently working with:

  • Microsoft – Working on organization and governance around RPA

  • Twelve – Technical and functional support for implementing the Microsoft Power Platform and its developments

  • Benelux IS Team – Code reviews and technical support for developments (until January 2021, they were already using an RPA platform, JitBit Macro Recorder, as a local solution)




Based on an internal Agile methodology (360 Scoping), use-case requirements are collected from countries and groups, including those discussed below.

In Group IS, we use a process called 360 Scoping to establish potential opportunities to create new RPA bots. The 360 Scoping process has four main outputs:

  • Record a detailed account of the step-by-step flow of the existing process

  • Record video of the existing process in a workshop

  • Gather samples of the expected output of the processes

  • Break down the estimated return on investment (ROI) in terms of real time equivalents (RTEs)



OUR FIRST BOTS ARE LIVE!


POLAND

Since April 30th, the process of customer invoice reconciliation has been automated for the Polish customer service. This process primarily involves managing claims raised by customers regarding incorrect invoiced amounts (mainly due to rounding issues). The customer provides Lyreco with a copy of the order and the estimated correct amount. Lyreco then cancels the existing invoice by generating a credit note. Finally, a new invoice is regenerated based on the correct price of the order.


Tools:

  • Tabula (OCR) for invoice recognition and transformation into Excel file

  • Excel (for comparison between order prices and invoice amounts)

  • Sharepoint (for storage and sharing purposes)

  • Outlook (for notifications)


The reconciliation process saves employees roughly 6 hours a day (based on 30 orders per day and depending on the number of invoices and products per order).



GROUP IS

Since May 13th, the GroupIS Security Team has been testing a new method for managing approvals of suppliers’ invoices with a few IS managers and directors. GroupIS implemented 360 Scoping to simplify the approval process with a program integrated in our Lyreco/Microsoft ecosystem. Even with automation, the principles underpinning the process are the same; there are still two levels of approval, and related documents are centralized, stored, and shared so the accounting department is aware of approved invoices.


Tools:

  • Sharepoint (for storage and sharing purposes)

  • Outlook (for notifications and approval process)

  • Teams (for notifications and approval process)

The new approval process represents a saving of 2RTE per week (based on 1,100 invoices received in 2020)



NEXT STEPS

There are currently 27 use-cases identified in nine countries. Some of those use-cases involve processes that are common to all countries, while others are more specific.


Now, our main objective is to complete 360 Scoping for the most significant of these opportunities in terms of savings and then develop and implement the related bots so that we can prove the platform brings a real business value with consistency and relevancy.


We plan to achieve this by the end of 2021 at the latest.


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