My colleague, the bot: How bots make your job (even) more attractive
Robot Process Automation (RPA) is an automation technology for business processes. Bots take over repetitive, rule-based and manual process steps – and thus take the burden of employees. They are left with more time for challenging tasks.
RPA is therefore part of the digital transformation that accompanies everyday work at thyssenkrupp Materials Services. One of the aims is to automate and standardize the processes under the hood. So that human colleagues have more time for other activities. "We provide very specific support to teams and departments in outsourcing rather repetitive activities to customized bots," says Patrick Berghoff, Project Manager Operative Digitalization in the Digital Technology Office at thyssenkrupp Materials Services, describing the task. "So RPA doesn't make people redundant, but gives them freedom. Departments that use this option quickly notice: bots increase job satisfaction."
In fact, bots usually take over only a small section in complex processes – and the rather monotonous part at that. For example, they can insert data from one program into another, analyze or review data, generate reports and send them via e-mail. The costs are usually manageable and pay for themselves quickly. In the pilot project for thyssenkrupp Schulte, the IDIL Bot took over administrative tasks, eliminating about ten minutes of manual work per day for each employee involved.
The bot creates a report on order items with negative contribution margins, sends it to the responsible parties and ensures ICS-compliant documentation. "Automating repetitive process steps helps us so we can focus on what's important – our customers," agrees Andreas Kellermann. He is Head of Digital Transformation and Performance at thyssenkrupp Schulte, where the bot is in use.
Bots for all kinds of applications
These advantages – reducing effort and avoiding errors – also apply to other bots that the Digital Technology Office has implemented. The KULA bot, for example, has its sights set on the customer facility in e-commerce. It reads and analyzes an Excel file, checks the data in SAP and takes care of data maintenance. After it has created a customer in SAP Hybris, it generates a progress report.
The ZENA Bot from thyssenkrupp Schulte will deal with requesting missing material certificates from suppliers. It first checks which certificates are missing, sends e-mails to the suppliers and assigns the certificates received to the operations. The responsible employees then receive a message. "These examples clearly show how versatile RPA can be used," emphasizes Patrick Berghoff.
Collaborative in-house development across several levels
The bots are developed in close collaboration between the Digital Technology Office of Materials Services and colleagues from thyssenkrupp Information Management. The Digital Technology Office acts as the interface to the business where the bots will be used and defines with them what the actual requirements are. The development and operation of the bots is handled by our colleagues from thyssenkrupp Information Management. In the Digitalization & Custom Applications Solution Center, an entire team takes care of automation solutions. Thanks to delivery from the Gdansk Service Center, this is done very cost-effectively while at the same time taking advantage of the benefits of intra-group service provision. "Together with the DTO, we have started to automate processes at Materials Services. The DTO is the internal contact and forms the interface between business and developer. The experts from thyssenkrupp Information Management develop and support the bots in line with customer requirements. This good cooperation is the basis for our joint success," says Christoph Bruns, Head of Process Automation & Robotics at thyssenkrupp Information Management.
Anyone who has a use case for a bot can contact the teams. "Anyone who can spontaneously think of a process that would be suitable for automation is welcome to contact us." The Digital Technology Office supports departments throughout the RPA lifecycle, from defining a target process to implementing the bot and providing maintenance services. Good news for the impatient: bots are usually operational in about three months.