Helping the British Red Cross make a difference
Building the business case for Intelligent Automation at the British Red Cross
Back office operations typically involve large amounts of repetitive tasks, which staff are required to process by hand. Not only is this time consuming, with a negative impact on employee wellbeing, it can result in high rates of error.
Intelligent Automation takes the administrative burden away from human employees, by assigning tasks to digital workers. This technology is ideal for processes which are high volume, high cost or high risk, leading to significant efficiency gains for organisations.
Working with the British Red Cross
The British Red Cross is a UK charity which responds to conflicts, natural disasters, and individual emergencies.
We worked with the British Red Cross on a proof of value project to experiment with RPA and build evidence for a business case to deploy the technology at scale. An accounts payable process was chosen to test the impact of Intelligent Automation, identifying time savings that demonstrated the value to the wider organisation.
How we did it
The British Red Cross has around three thousand different suppliers whose invoices must be processed and paid at any one time. When an invoice is submitted, the Accounts Payable Team is responsible for checking its validity against the purchase order for reimbursement.
In spite of the large total volume of suppliers, a quarter of all accounts payable invoices at the British Red Cross are generated by 23 organisations. We worked with the charity to automate the processing of invoices from five of these suppliers, relieving staff of this considerable administrative task, and building the business case for Intelligent Automation more widely across the Accounts department and other areas of the organisation.
Ben Holt Technology Innovation Lead at the British Red Cross
Intelligent Automation looked like a promising technology and I wanted to run a rigorous experiment to see if it would benefit the British Red Cross. I chose Foundry4 because of their expertise with both proof-of-value projects and Third Sector organisations. The project allowed us to understand the reality of scaling this technology and to build a business case on real evidence from our own operations, which made a really compelling case. We are now ready to roll out our automation capability next year.
How we made the difference
Integrating Intelligent Automation into the invoicing process for five suppliers saved the Accounts Payable team up to 1.5 hours per day in busy periods. The digital worker now automatically checks supplier information and verifies the invoice, leaving the human employee to quickly pay it - safe in the knowledge that everything is in order. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with these external suppliers have been vastly improved, with the time to pay invoices decreasing from five to two days.
With their additional time employees are now able to address existing backlogs and look at process improvements in other areas of the department. For example, they reconciled 16 account statements in the month after the bot launched compared to not having time to reconcile any the previous month.
The success of this project has enabled stakeholders across the British Red Cross to see the value of Intelligent Automation, gathering evidence on the return on investment for adding the remaining 18 key suppliers to the process, and extending the technology into other areas of the charity.
Putting people at the centre of any automation project is critical to its success.
Linzi Cook Payables Team Leader at British Red Cross
It has been very interesting to experiment with automation and to see how it can help our team. With the Bot monitoring emails and checking our invoices and statements from suppliers we can process the invoices faster and use the time it frees up for less manual jobs. I never imagined I'd be working with a robot but it has the potential to be a very helpful addition to the team and I look forward to seeing what else it can do.
Humanising your automation experience
Through our human-centred approach, we help you realise the benefits of Intelligent Automation, strategically applying RPA, conversational AI and machine learning to enable your organisation to thrive.