The Case for RPA in the Workplace Gets Stronger

Mention robotic process automation (RPA), and many HR leaders tend to shy away. For employees, they view it as a job killer. Yet, leading IT companies are using RPA  to improve their department efficiency and empower their employees to do more productive work.

This is the case for NTT Ltd. The company, which was created from the merger of other businesses wanted to improve back-office efficiencies and empower employees to focus on delivering high-value, profitable work. The company employed more than 40,000 people in 57 countries and regions and provides services in over 200 countries and territories. 

Hong Kong is a critical location, where the company employs hundreds of people and operates data centers locally. NTT’s 23-strong Finance Department in Hong Kong, in particular, helps manage funds, do financial accounting, conduct strategic consulting, and help with reporting. They also support corporate divisions both in Taiwan and Korea. 

A lot of time was spent on reviewing an intensive amount of data for accuracy. After all, manual data entry mistakes can impact other work procedures, causing month-end closing delays. This led to spending less time engaging in more value-added tasks. 

So, NTT deployed UiPath Robots and UiPath Orchestrator to help handle high volume tasks that are repetitive and susceptible to manual errors. These include invoice validation, journal entries, and bank reconciliation. Through automation, the company streamlined its operations, freeing up to 80 hours per month of employees’ time. 

Choosing UiPath was not a simple process. NTT spent nearly a year assessing every option available in the market before deciding the right RPA partner. UiPath’s suite of products met NTT’s application expectations and worked with existing operations. UiPath’s track record of helping enterprises and government organizations around the world helped. The strong deployment expertise of Jardine One Solutions (JOS) ensured quick deployment.  

“Together, we were able to successfully implement the first batch of RPA processes within 3 months. This short time frame meant we could continue delivering operationally with minimal disruption to our day to day operations. In this way, UiPath delivered outstanding customer experience, and it was why we ultimately opted to work with them,” said Maggie Lai, senior vice president, Finance and Corporate Planning at NTT Com Asia Limited.  

The benefits of RPA were immediate. 

For example, it allowed Account Receivables Aging reports to be updated daily instead of only every week. NTT’s customers benefited as it minimized occasions where customers would receive payment reminders after settlement. 

Internally, NTT’s credit control team could focus on contacting customers to follow up on invoices as well as handle customers’ queries on invoices, or help resolve any disputes raised by customers to shorten debt collection. Days Sales Outstanding was reduced by nine days (approximately 21%). With more timely follow-up, aging is much improved, and the amount of bad debts has also decreased.  

Meanwhile, RPA improved the accuracy of data entries by eliminating manual updates. In turn, it reduced the time for NTT’s team to handle accounts payable as well as bank reconciliation by up to 80 work hours every month. With RPA, the accuracy rate of managing accounts payable improved from 80% to 100%, and the time for bank reconciliation reduced from two days to half a day.

“Data accuracy is another main objective for deploying RPA solutions, which ultimately ensures we aren't losing productive time, consequently reviewing and correcting mistakes. Our teams are now more empowered than ever to handle more value-added tasks that require personal interactions, such as making client visits in a bid to improve the overall credit control environment,” said Lai.  

The RPA deployment at NTT helped to make its Finance team more productive and focused on the right tasks. While it did not replace any employees, it did help the current team to handle more workload easily. More importantly, it allowed the Finance team to become business partners by offering strategic insights and resolving complex issues fast and not be bogged down by data management.