Manutan, the European leader in B to B e-commerce specialising in the distribution of equipment and supplies to companies and local authorities, has deployed a Robotic Process Automation solution in its Finance Department.
At the heart of the Manutan Group’s project is a desire to provide its employees with automated solutions that will enable them to delegate the execution of simple and repetitive tasks and to concentrate on higher value-added missions. Resorting to RPA has become an obvious choice, with its promise of more efficient processing, better quality of life for employees, a smoother customer experience and, more generally, greater reliability. In 2019, Manutan’s Finance Department adopted a practical approach to automation. The service provider Humans4Help was chosen to build the solution using UiPath bricks made available in SaaS mode. “We decided to integrate RPA so as to automate certain simple processes that are easy to execute by a robot. To that end, we set up a reinforced support system for employees so that they could become more competent in their new responsibilities. We called on local managers to secure the teams and reduce the stress linked to the change,” explains Evelyne Mercier, Finance Director, in charge of the Manutan Group’s financial operations. The virtual assistants are initially entrusted with basic activities: sending emails, opening an attachment to retrieve the data and re-enter it in another application, or producing periodic reports.
It took about three months to stabilise and optimise the operation of the first robot. The most difficult phase entailed “rethinking the processes and reassuring the teams on the development of their jobs once the system went live, in particular as regards managing automation solutions, the importance of data and a reorientation towards a more interfaced role with our clients and our transversal services,” Evelyne Mercier points out. The group has worked on supporting its teams, and they have chosen to start by processing the tasks they appreciate least.
90% of orders requiring credit analysis automated
The digitalisation of processes has made it possible to improve the quality of the customer and employee experience at various levels, according to Manutan. First of all, there is the processing of incoming customer requests for credit management. The solution performs an analysis based on the customer’s credit situation and then, depending on the results, employees can offer the customer an additional credit limit or special conditions on the application. Almost 90% of orders requiring this credit analysis are now fully automated. Then there is the collection of unpaid orders through the automation of reminders sent to customers. The response emails to customers are read by the robot, which can then perform certain actions such as resending an invoice or opening a dispute file. This task is particularly complex, and the company has now achieved a 40% automation rate.
At the time of the initial assessments, a large portion of the time allocated to data entry, processing requests, sending duplicates and reminders has been freed up thanks to RPA. This frees Manutan’s employees to devote more time to contact with their customers to gain a better understanding of specific situations, analyse needs and propose personalised solutions. “The robot has a high processing capacity once it is programmed. This reduces stressful situations for the teams that can be linked to the processing of high-volume requests,” Evelyne Mercier underscores.
Furthermore, the integration of the solution has led to the emergence of new management jobs, such as data analysts tasked with checking that the robot is carrying out its operations correctly and that the response provided is consistent. “While we will continue to automate low value-added tasks in Order to Cash, in particular setting up e-invoicing accounts, managing disputes and converting to XML format to facilitate the management of unpaid dematerialised invoices, we would also like to deploy RPA to the group’s subsidiaries as well as to other departments such as logistics in the medium term. Manutan aspires to scale up this automated solution where relevant and to structure it in its technological platform,” concludes Evelyne Mercier.