time re-invested in new projects
improvement in efficency (reduction in processing time)
availability of up-to-date data
Introduction: BCE Consulting, The Problem and Why Robocorp
BCE Consulting is a consultancy company, based in the Netherlands, with about 25 consultants working in the broad field of digital transformation which includes RPA, AI, Cloud Computing, Software Services etc - everything regarding digital transformation. The customers they serve in majority are in the Healthcare industry followed by Insurance, and a variety of mid-sized companies, and can also provide their expertise across various industries. Their mission is to help non-corporates in the Netherlands with their journey to optimize their business with the help of digital technology. They provide consultancy to create end-to-end solutions that starts with evaluating a business problem to making suggestions for technologies to implement which would help in optimizing processes and making strategic business decisions.
They started delivering RPA based solutions around three years ago and RPA is currently about 15% of their business but it is an area that is growing. Initially, they only used UIPath and a year ago, added Robocorp in their tech-stack. Supporting both platforms allows them to choose the best tool to provide process automation solutions to their customers according to their requirements.
Because BCE also serves smaller companies, UIPath’s pricing model was not always suitable for them. For those customers, the consumption based pricing of Robocorp was a better fit.
With that said, BCE got a big opportunity to build a solution for an entire industry (preventive youth care) together with software vendor Topicus, which is one of the two market leaders in this industry. This is BCE’s primary use case in the Preventive Youth Care industry (in the Netherlands) and decided to solely use Robocorp to implement the solution for this client.
“From BCE’s point of view, I believe that customers should concentrate on the solution and the business outcomes/value provided by us, and not about which technology is used to build that business solution.” -- Klaas-Jan Molendijk, Partner, BCE Consulting
A lot of automation consultants at BCE have technical backgrounds and they really liked Robocorp as it was more developer oriented.
There currently are 38 organizations in the Netherlands in charge of preventive youth care. Around half of these organizations use the electronic child file application developed by software vendor Topicus. These organizations receive a lot of documents (mainly e-mail) from hospitals, midwives and other sources. A service worker will read the incoming documents and transcribe the relevant information into the Topicus application.
BCE created an unattended robot to automatically process these emails. The inbox is polled every minute and, when a new message is detected, a trigger (AWS Lambda) calls the Robocorp API to start the robot running in Robocorp Cloud. The robot will then extract the relevant information from the email and enter it automatically into the Topicus application. Extracting this information is not a straightforward task, because with a large variety of hospitals and healthcare organizations in the Netherlands, they all may have different file formats. Each email will be formulated in a slightly different way. The robot partly relies on AWS Textract (Amazon’s ML intelligent OCR technology) to read & understand the emails. On average it has around an 80% success rate and 20% of the messages get escalated to the service worker for manual processing. This does not mean that the robot is not ‘smart’ enough but it is due to lack of information. In many of these escalated cases the details of the child that the email refers to is not found in the application.
BCE has built their Robot-as-a-Service (RaaS) as a “multi-tenant” implementation. The RaaS offering is a multi-tenant environment with different preventive youthcare organizations managed from one Control Room. BCE finds it is very easy to monitor the execution status of all the robots they manage in their “multi-tenant” implementation. The integration with GitHub to maintain the code in a central repository and the ability to automatically push code changes straight away following standard CI/CD practices is imperative for seamless operation and smooth execution of their multi-tenant automations. The logging feature greatly simplifies troubleshooting problems quickly as it eliminates the need to ask the customer to collect logs from on premise systems. BCE also views the dashboarding feature of the Control Room to be very useful to create graphical views and reporting for all automations.
When asked about Robocorp’s support, BCE said they found Robocorp to be service oriented and quick to respond.
“It is very refreshing to see the responsiveness from the entire team - customer success, engineering and dev teams.” said Klaas-Jan Molendijk, Partner, BCE Consulting, “There is always someone there to provide support to resolve our issues. I was also very pleased to see how easy it was to develop and these guys know what they are doing! The technology is solid and one of the many things that appealed to me was the flexibility to develop new packages and libraries with Python keywords that were missing in Robot Framework''.
After the first organization successfully used the robot, BCE approached Topicus and proposed a joint solution for the entire industry. By making the robot service available through the Topicus customer base, any organizations using Topicus electronic child application can easily purchase the robot as a service and implement it within days. The robot is managed by BCE and runs in Robocorp Cloud so the organization does not require any infrastructure to automate the process and this provides BCE with low TCO.
Klaas-Jan’s ambition and vision for BCE is to leverage this concept of working together with certain service organizations that have a lot of customers with similar set up and problems and build multi-tenant solutions using Robocorp because the technology and platform makes it so easy to add multiple organizations with the RaaS solution. This implementation is very interesting because one can build a scalable and profitable business rather than building one or two automations here and there.
“RaaS provides a lot of value from what I see through this use case with Topicus. Making one robot and scale it to sell it multiple times is an exciting business model.”
-- Klaas-Jan Molendijk, Partner, BCE Consulting
A typical organization will receive about 700 to 1400 messages each month. Each message would typically take a service worker 4 minutes to process and now the bot processes it in 30 seconds. So, with the robot automatically handling 80% of those messages, that would free up a similar percentage of the service workers time. The time saved was re-invested in other meaningful projects and one of them was to help with COVID vaccinations.
Some of the organizations have service workers who are approaching retirement age and because the robot handles the vast majority of emails they will not have to replace the service worker when they retire.
“It is because of Robocorp’s consumption based pricing, both BCE and Topicus were able to come up with a simplified pricing model for our respective businesses. It is a well priced, flexible, cloud-based solution. A perfect example of delivering Robots As A Service.”
-- Klaas-Jan Molendijk, Partner, BCE
More important than any potential time savings is the privacy aspect of the automated execution. The medical data contained in the emails is highly sensitive. Eliminating the need for a service worker to open and read the document is a great benefit. Also, robots don't make trivial mistakes like entering the wrong social security number for the child which could potentially result in medical results being shared with the wrong people.
Finally, the robots also run 24 hours a day and don’t need to take breaks. This can avoid the situation, which would sometimes occur before the robot was used, where a medical specialist has sent an email to the youth care organization but due to a backlog or delays in processing, it takes a few hours (or even days) before the details are entered into the system. During that period of delay, if the parents are meeting with one of the youth care organizations professionals, they may be told that no email has been received because the electronic child database has not yet been updated. This scenario is obviously not a good situation for the parents or the youth care organization and is completely eliminated by the automated process.
BCE wants to tackle the Preventive Youth Care Industry with Robocorp’s solutions and their vision is to build a multi-tenant Robot that can be used by all of Topicus customers in the Netherlands. This is a huge opportunity as a lot of preventive youth care organizations are interested in what BCE and Topicus are doing right now and they continue to define more processes to be automated.