increase in productivity
reduction in processing time
reduction in bot maintenance
Avero Diagnostics is a CAP/CLIA certified diagnostics laboratory. The company has multiple locations in Texas, and has remote team members spread out across the United States.
One of the big issues the team faces is having a small team of developers & analysts that are responsible for creating custom solutions that other team members simply don’t have the time to develop.
The goal of the automation development team is to master a variety of repetitive tasks and processes in an automated fashion. By automating these processes the Avero team is supporting their business by enhancing their ROI for each test they perform. Ultimately the goal is to save time, lower costs and reduce the burden and frustration of their staff.
Another issue the Avero team faces is a wide-variety of legacy systems which do not have APIs and could not be interfaced programmatically. So, they implemented Gen1 provider Automation Anywhere to automate these workflow issues, only to find out that the solution was prone to a significant amount of errors that could not easily be overcome.
The team of Avero developers also discovered that Automation Anywhere did not easily allow for the creation of self-defined reusable functions without jumping through hoops. Infact, they also uncovered major issues while debugging and concluded the closed code approach made debugging and maintenance challenging. Additionally, they also struggled with limited documentation and extremely slow support.
Working with Robocorp over the last two quarters has been a delight, said Kristie Underwood, Director, IT Project Management Avero Diagnostics. “They understand our ‘why’ and are seeking opportunities to be a value-add partner to help us achieve our goals.”
Robocorp offered a robust and flexible solution based on an open-source programmable platform which can be developed and extended by developers directly. This allowed Avero’s technical team to create reusable functions across a complex bot which needs to perform many different functions within one web application.
Avero implemented an account creation and insurance billing process bots on the Robocorp platform in just 4 weeks.
They began by converting a complex, brittle and unstable Automation Anywhere account creation bot into Python. Initially, this unattended bot read email requests from Salesforce and then automatically created new accounts in up to 4 of their Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). The development team at Avero needed additional capacity to ensure the initial deployment of the new bot was done before the existing Automation Anywhere contract was due to end, so they reached out to Robocorp for a development partner to add this capacity. The bot was quickly developed and deployed with Quandri’s help, just days before the Automation Anywhere contract ended. The final bot deployed at the time was more stable than the Automation Anywhere implementation and allowed Avero to start spending development time on implementing the Salesforce to Robocorp payload API, instead of constantly debugging issues in the existing bot.
"With this opportunity came the need for an expert partner capable of flexing some seriously fast and reliable development muscles. Quandri stepped up to the plate to deliver a reliable bot that proved what's possible with Robocorp when it comes to Gen1 RPA migrations, not to mention in circumstances where the margin for error on delivery was razor thin," shared Peter Steube, Head of Global Partners & Alliances, Robocorp about their contribution. Jackson Fregeau, CEO & Co-founder, of Quandri elaborated that, "This project had the two-fold problem of a tight timeline and new system - we’d never worked in Automation Anywhere before. We had three weeks to understand the current bot and translate the AA code into a Python bot. We not only delivered on time, but built a much more resilient and robust bot than the AA version. After reviewing an AA bot vs. the equivalent in Python, I would recommend the latter every single time."
The second bot that Avero developed is a billing automation. This bot ensures copies of results are appropriately included with all insurance billing files.
Avero found Robocorp Control Room to be a critically important component as it provided complete automation orchestration. It works seamlessly with the bots deployed, either in Robocorp Cloud containers or with Workforce Agents installed on Avero’s local VMs. Both worked easily with minimal fuss and/or intervention. Robocorp Control Room also recorded what the bot did, so in case of failure, the detailed logs provided helpful insights to assist in troubleshooting.
Another valuable feature of Robocorp Control Room, for Avero, is its Work Data Management tool. It enabled arbitrary JSON payloads that the bot was able to read natively, making it very easy to build and specify a work item schema which Salesforce was able to use, ensuring the bot has all the necessary information required to do its work.
“The Work Data Management system can handle arbitrary payloads, giving us flexibility and control. This made it incredibly easy to develop our Salesforce API integration,” said Blake Waud, IT QA Manager, Avero Diagnostics. “Compared to the hours of configuration time required to define work items in other tools, with Robocorp the first payload was implemented within minutes. Additionally, the ability to dynamically scale out new nodes in the cloud significantly accelerated the execution of automations, both in production and during bot development and testing.”
Robocorp Control Room also has an easy vault configuration that Avero implemented to store credentials securely and because multiple workspace environments are included in the overall cost, they didn’t have to pay additional fees just to have test and development environments.
Updating the bots with fixes and enhancements was pretty straightforward as Avero uses GitHub to deploy to these environments. They found it very easy to set up using the documentation and resources provided by Robocorp.
The entire process of developing both bots, testing and deploying into production took 4 weeks. The same bots in Automation Anywhere took 6 months, and the bots were still unstable and difficult to manage. Avero had a tight deadline for the project and the Robocorp team ensured seamless onboarding as well as coordination to find the right development implementation partner to deliver the solution on time. Throughout the entire process, the Robocorp team was there to make sure everything went smoothly for Avero’s development team.
The biggest challenge was the complexity of the process. Fortunately the Avero team was able to build new bots using Python and Robot Frameworks by referencing the old Automation Anywhere bots. They had been using cron to schedule the execution of the legacy bot at regular intervals but now Robocorps’ Control Room orchestrates execution of all the bots. Additionally, API requests are also used to run the robots on demand.
Two processes were automated and successfully implemented into production within a month. This time frame included learning about target systems, developing the processes, testing and deployment. The resulting automations in Robocorp were significantly simplified by breaking down the processes into small steps.
The value that Avero derived from converting Automation Anywhere bots includes technology that performs at high level as well as saving significant dollars. Avero found Automation Anywhere bots to be complex, inflexible and riddled with errors which left their developers confused and unable to find reasonable work-arounds. The value they saw with Robocorp was that the “converted” bots were robust, did exactly what they were programmed to do and performed consistently and minimized their developer’s time dealing with errors.
Converting the bots to Robocorp also significantly reduced complexity. Automation Anywhere has a limit of 500 lines of code and the developers have to break down the processes which makes it difficult to maintain. The process had to iterate through the same command multiple times just to make sure it worked i.e. having to click the same button multiple times to make sure it was actually clicked.
“For complex processes, it take a lot of extra steps to develop bots with Gen1 RPA, '' said Blake Waud, IT QA Manager, Avero Diagnostics, “and inter-dependencies and exceptions are unmanageable – in our case it required a string of 10 robots triggering and relying on each other. The overall lines of code and the number of exceptions/inter-dependencies were substantially less and the overall process was more fluid with Robocorp.”
The Billing bot showed it’s value within 3 months with a calculated savings of over $8,000 (a projected savings of over $30,000/year). The Account Creation bot value has saved 1.5 FTEs worth of weekly effort. Because Robocorp Work Data Management allows for concurrent execution of bots in the Robocorp Cloud, the automations also execute much faster, reducing the run time required from 13 minutes to 2 minutes, an 84.6% reduction in processing time.
Robocorp also brought additional cost savings; Avero bot developers would spend about 20-30 hours a week devoted to fixing issues with bots developed with Automation Anywhere. With Robocorp it only requires 1-2 hours a week of maintenance. These time savings pushed the reduction in TCO from 49.5% (subscription costs) to 62% (subscription and bot maintenance costs).
The immediate value of Robocorp's solution enabled Avero Diagnostics to execute on their vision and automation strategy. "Our strategy is to automate what we cannot deprecate, so that we are enabled to do the next thing, not the same thing." – Kristie Underwood, Director, IT Project Management, Avero Diagnostics.
Based on their initial success, Avero is working on many opportunities for future automations across IT, Client and Customer support and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) processes. They want to enhance current bots to utilize more of Robot Framework (instead of just using pure Python) to get the benefits of enhanced logging and better integration with Robocorp Control Room. They also plan to use AI technologies to automate their common laboratory workflows (automate to replace existing scripting).