Most organizations typically initiate their process automation journey with a focus on cost optimization by targeting repetitive and rule-based tasks. While they may see some quick wins, they quickly realize that an integrated view of processes, people, technology, and operating model change is required to drive meaningful business outcomes.
The Cognizant Digital Business Operations business unit has helped its clients not just automate processes but also improve the quality of work for their employees and enhance customer service experience. It achieved this through a combination of these intuitive, easier-to-use low-code solutions and cognitive/AI capabilities applied to industry and business context of clients.
Cognizant was looking to enable automation skills for 25 percent of the workforce in Digital Business Operations (DBO) delivery. The company also wanted to upskill DBO associates for digital enterprise skills such as process discovery, analytics, RPA+. The other objective was to accelerate automation and reduce cycle time.
The chosen approach was to democratize automation for speed by augmenting Centre of Excellence (CoE) led automation with citizen led and citizen self-automation. By establishing a strong enablement approach, the idea was to drive full utilization of the automation Platform and best practices and move towards a ‘Robot for Every Person’ evangelization.
Low Code automation
Given that Cognizant was keen to democratize automation and empower employees to drive innovation and productivity improvements in a bottom-up approach, using a low code solution was ideal. It enabled the Cognizant team to build simple automations in their day-to-day work.
During the requirement gathering phase, multiple workshops with business users helped create an automation first mindset and raise awareness on citizen led development. As they got familiar with the concept of having a digital assistant, they started thinking about tasks they could offload to their robot. The result was greater productivity, cost efficiency and an enhanced experience for employees and customers.
Combined, these low-code solutions help Cognizant’s clients automate core business processes, case management and workflow systems. For example, UiPath has added AI to robotics to automate unstructured processes via ML pattern recognition algorithms.
Cognizant paired low-code with Intelligent Automation solutions to help transform client processes as they already have deep expertise of client and industry landscape to. The focus was on eliminating repetitive non-value adding tasks, providing colleagues the right tools to do their job and unlocking process insights to be actionable by teams delivering the services.
Low-code solutions are helping Cognizant transform business operations for clients and colleagues by:
- Redesigning Work
Through the last 6-9 months, Cognizant has enabled more than 5,000 associates with the skills and tools required to automate and streamline their work. For instance, the team that processes mortgage applications for leading banks typically juggles through hundreds and thousands of documents every day to note and verify credit and property data.
With low-code automated document processing tools, they are now able to extract this information with minimal human touch and high level of confidence. With simplified data processing and a user-focused dashboard, this team gets customer relationship history at its fingertips saving them valuable effort and time which can be diverted for higher quality and on-time processing.
- Hybrid (human + digital worker) models
Automation helps understand human work better and augment the workforce with digital workers. For example, for a healthcare payer, Cognizant identified and automated claims resolution processes including those involving advanced fuzzy logic and algorithms to build intelligent automation to mimic human understanding and decision making. This helped in 15x reduction of claims inventory, 75% reduction in claims processing timelines and 4% improvement in auto-adjudication rate. The client was able to reduce need for employee overtime, improve on-time claims payment for customers, decreased escalations from healthcare providers and avoid revenue leakage in interest and penalties.
Cognizant is now increasingly using low-code process discovery solutions like UiPath process mining and task mining for automated analysis and capture process behaviour.
- Frameworks and Governance
Cognizant is working with clients to build the right foundations in terms of governance, connected platforms, and automation frameworks/practices. This increases confidence to include wider business and process teams in low-code automation development since they are assured of outcomes and controls.
Ensuring Smooth Solution Rollout
UiPath and Cognizant jointly created an execution plan to ensure smooth implementation. UiPath’s solution architects have been working closely with Cognizant to ensure the right architecture and infrastructure configuration for a project of this magnitude.
Customized learning paths are created for citizen developers and consumers, and courses from the UiPath Academy are made easily accessible to their digital operations team. Regular engagement channels are in place to review progress, table risks, brainstorm on risk mitigation strategies and focus on areas where attention is required from leaders.
Participants in the citizen development program were broken down into two types of personas – citizen developers or power users who would create automations and consumers who would consume these automations. Specified learning paths were created for each persona and the identified employees were trained and certified on UiPath’s platform.
The COE had an oversight into the whole process and was responsible for approving, monitoring, and distributing automations. A federated operating model was created such that the COE was responsible for governance, compliance and development standards, best practices, and enablement. The business units were made responsible for identifying automation opportunities, building, and monitoring automations and tracking benefits.
Key Learnings and Best Practices
There were some key learnings from the roll out of low code solution for Cognizant. These included:
- User Enablement
Business users need to be trained and certified to ensure quality of work. They also need the flexibility of learning at their own pace and in a format that works best for them.
- Change Management
Creating an ‘automation first’ mindset and conveying to business users the importance of becoming equal stakeholders in delivering automations is important.
Establish best practices, control points, and strong governance guidelines to empower citizen developers to create automations without breaking things. A repository of reusable components which conform to development standards enables faster time to value.
- Crowdsourcing of Ideas
Encouraging participating in building the repository of automation ideas drives innovation and builds a sense of ownership.
- Mentorship and Coaching
Continuous guidance and support provided to business users by the COE through mentors or coaches can ensure timely help and intervention in the event of problems. Experts can help with respect to design, naming conventions, security, and policy compliance etc.
- Rewards and Incentives
Cognizant regularly holds BYOB (Bring your own bot) contests where citizen developers showcase the automations, they have built using UiPath’s low code solution to their senior management and win prizes. Such initiatives keep up participation levels and encourage a spirit of healthy competition between users.
As businesses become more digital, the need to empower employees, enabling a combined human-digital workforce model and scale enabled through right technology and operating models is going to become even more important. Low-code automation is still in its early days and early adopters are already reaping the benefits.
Authored by Anil Bhasin, Managing Director and Vice-President, India and South Asia, UiPath & Girish Pai, Global head of Intelligent Automation, AI & Advisory, Cognizant