Greater efficiency, lower error rate when transferring data between different systems, and employees spared from completing tedious routine tasks. All examples of added value achieved since the end of 2019 by insurer HDI Austria with the help of robotic process automation (RPA) and the processes they automated. The company has achieved an automation rate of 92%, saving them around 600 person days over the last year and a half.
HDI Versicherung AG Austria has branches in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia. Austrian corporate and private customers from insurance classes such as motor, accident, and legal protection, are served by the Vienna headquarters, provincial headquarters, via the Internet, or by independent insurance brokers and agents. HDI and its 317 employees manage a total premium volume of €207 million across Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.
The company receives top scores every year from Assekuranz Award Austria and AssCompact Award for its customer-focused approach across its various areas of operation. HDI Versicherung AG Austria is part of Talanx Group, one of Europe’s major insurance groups with premium income of €41.1 billion euros (2020) and around 23,527 employees. Based in Hanover, the group is active in over 150 countries.
HDI Austria is shaping the domestic market as an innovative and fast-moving insurance provider thanks in part to its modern IT systems. Since November 2019, the company has been deploying RPA software robots that replicate and automate manual tasks. The solution being used by the company is supplied by UiPath. Since the beginning of 2021, HDI Austria has also been using UiPath Test Suite for testing during software development. Thanks to the intuitive user interface and templates, even testers with no programming knowledge can now design and implement test cases as early as the analysis phase.
“RPA shoulders the burden of recurring processes, or time-consuming and error-prone manual transfer of data between different systems, freeing up employees across multiple departments and creating time for more important tasks”, says Günther Weiß, CEO of HDI Austria.
After the UiPath RPA solution, the company decided in early 2021 that it would also begin to use UiPath tools for test automation in software development. “Our developers are busy with their own work and so are not able to support test automation too, but testers can now use UiPath to design and implement test cases themselves as early as the analysis phase without the need for any additional development expertise,” says Hakan Kalinyaprak, IT Development Team Leader at HDI Austria.
In 2019, a specific need to find a way to transfer data between the company’s own system and a group interface is what led HDI Austria to look into RPA and seek out a new IT solution. Ralf Hoppe, Head of IT at HDI Austria: ““Purchasing or developing a solution ourselves purely for this particular scenario would have been too expensive. The new software also had to be suitable for other optimizations in various departments, offer sufficient auditing options, and be able to interact with a large number of very different systems.”
A proof of concept implemented within a week in August 2019 by external consultants from Aicher IT-Consulting demonstrated that the RPA solution met all these requirements. The testing also looked at how UiPath interacts with various other systems, including in-house developments, group interfaces, and third-party systems from suppliers and partner companies.
In the last quarter of 2019, Aicher IT-Consulting collaborated with the internal process owners and the relevant specialist departments to automate a total of six processes. The list included the comparison of contract data, incoming payments, loss and damage cases and claims payments for front-end servicing contracts with the group via one of the group’s web interfaces, reclassification of assessor costs based on a Microsoft Excel list provided by contract partners, and posting incoming payments from attorneys from an Excel list via file transfer protocol.
“The close involvement of the relevant process owners and affected specialist departments was very important when it came to boosting quality and also removing any barriers to the new technology,” emphasizes Ralf Hoppe. “What’s more, non-developers and employees in the specialist departments who don’t have a particular IT background also find the UiPath solution easy to learn because of its low-code development interface.”
For organizational purposes, a central interface within process management is responsible for RPA at HDI Austria, while a team from the risk management and business organization department is responsible for organizing and developing RPA topics. This team is in regular contact with the process owners and the relevant departments to evaluate processes for their automation potential or to carry out tests, all in close collaboration with the IT department to avoid establishing parallel IT structures.
HDI Austria has now used the RPA solution to automate some 25 processes, the majority of which are in-house developments. Complex or time-critical issues are outsourced to Aicher IT-Consulting. The excellent trust-based collaboration with the external consultant has proved itself in practice many times over, as evidenced by the conclusion of two major contracts in the motor fleet sector at the end of 2020.
This involved creating around 18,000 motor policies, but until this point there had been no large-scale automation for this purpose. Using UiPath and with the help of Aicher IT-Consulting, HDI automated the process for creating and processing responses arising from registration, as well as executing the contracts, within just one month. “Without UiPath, creating and post-processing the policies would have involved a very large amount of manual work,” says Roland Posch, Process Owner for Automotive.
The RPA solution also proved its worth in early 2020 during the first coronavirus lockdown, which led to delays issuing license numbers for motorcycles that had been off the road during the winter. There was an unexpectedly large number of them to be completed when lockdown ended, but a software robot already in use since the end of 2019 for issuing license numbers was able to complete the work promptly with no additional burden on the employees.
HDI Austria is very pleased with the RPA results achieved, because by automating its processes the company has been able to save around 600 person days over the last year and a half, while reaching an automation rate of 92%. This figure relates to the proportion of transactions that require no further processing or checks. RPA also reduced the error rate when transferring data between different systems.
RPA projects are implemented quickly because even employees without a computer science degree can use it, so they don’t have to wait for available internal software developers who are often busy with more pressing topics.
Hakan Kalinyaprak • IT Development Team Leader at HDI Austria: “The software robots can also be used universally for recurring processes in different areas, and our employees are also happy to accept the RPA service because they see the real benefit of automation.”
HDI can even use RPA solutions as a stop-gap for one or two years until they expand to other target systems, in order to give the specialist departments additional flexibility. In the future, the company intends to collaborate with Aicher IT-Consulting on further developing RPA and expanding it to include new technologies such as machine learning and document understanding.
HDI Austria is now deploying the solution not only for RPA but also for test automation. This was triggered by Microsoft’s decision to stop integrating coded UI testing in Visual Studio after version 2019, which meant that HDI needed to replace this UI testing tool looking ahead to the medium term. HDI was therefore keen to find an intuitive tool to test its own software that would not tie up development resources with creating new tests. Three developers were previously engaged in coded UI test development.
Additionally, the new solution had to support the testing of web technologies that support the Windows Presentation Foundation graphics framework, and it was essential that it could be integrated with Azure DevOps Server, a platform that allows collaboration in planning and implementing software projects.
The new testing tool also needed to be able to handle the high throughput of around 900 regression tests per day, most of which are performed overnight. Test cases are repeated to ensure that modifications in parts of the software already tested do not cause new errors (regressions), so it makes a great deal of sense to automate this process. In a detailed analysis of various tools for test automation, UiPath came out on top with such products as UiPath Test Suite, UiPath Studio Pro, and UiPath Test Manager.
On top of that, the corresponding infrastructure had already been created for the RPA team and was available for the test team to re-use. Regardless of whether HDI Austria is testing RPA workflows, web applications, business software, or mobile applications, UiPath can cover it all.
Hakan Kalinyaprak • IT Development Team Leader at HDI Austria: “Thanks to the intuitive user interface, our developers created libraries and templates within a short space of time to make it easier for testers with no programming knowledge to build new test cases. This is very important because our developers have other responsibilities and are not able to support test automation too.”
The insurer is currently carrying out around 900 daily automated regression tests, overnight, and this despite the fact that test automation is still under construction. Looking ahead, the company hopes to integrate test automation directly into the development process with the aim of enabling testers to use UiPath to develop test cases right away using the definition of done, i.e. once the code required for an application is written. No further work would then be necessary for test automation.