Case Study

Gothaer: Hybrid RPA Implementation

With Macros Reply the insurance company automated processes, including the ensurance of compliance rules

Using RPA the right way

Agility in spite of many legacy systems, automating time-consuming routine activities and no nescessary interface development by the overburdened IT department - great expectations are associated with Robotic Process Automation (RPA). But in reality, many RPA projects are stalling and the implementation and the use of bots failing due to a lack of acceptance in IT and specialised company departments. With a innovative, hybrid implementation strategy, Gothaer Versicherung and Macros Reply have cut this Gordian knot.

Automated services for company departments

The basic idea of RPA is as simple as it is convincing: The sequences of manual program calls and checks in the processing are emulated by small programs, so-called bots, and can thus be automated. The promise of the providers of RPA tools: Creating bots is not much effort. This makes RPA technology attractive for both IT managers as well as specialist departments. Therefore, the IT managers do not need to plan elaborate interface developments for aging legacy systems and can concentrate on the urgent modernization of the IT infrastructure.

The other company departments on the other hand are freed from many demotivating routine activities and can focus on processes that correspond to the actuarial expertise of the employees. And the customers? They profit from faster response times and better service.

These potentials also convinced the insurance company Gothaer Versicherung. At the end of 2018, the team around Carsten Langhammer began evaluating a total of 18 RPA tools. When comparing the possibilities offered by individual programs, UiPath offered by Macros Reply's IT experts quickly took the lead. "Our evaluations have shown that UiPath does not lead the 'Magic Quadrant Ranking' of the Gartner research institute for nothing," says Carsten Langhammer.

The central problem

Many RPA projects fail in implementation, but Carsten Langhammer recognized early on that tool selection is not the decisive step. "A look at other RPA projects showed us that many fail in implementation and organizational anchoring. Although the tools are purchased, only a few bots are created," explains Langhammer. "The central approaches suffer from the fact that technical requirements are quickly lost here and acceptance in the specialist departments dwindles, without which the widespread use of bots is unthinkable. With the decentralized approaches, we have seen the neglect of compliance rules and inefficiencies in the use of the tools. In addition, new 'head monopolies' are emerging and people often made themselves dependent on external consultants and programmers".

A hybrid approach

Together with his team and Macros Reply, Langhammer therefore developed a hybrid approach that was to combine the advantages of both approaches. "We wanted to keep the decision about where and how to use bots as well as the programming itself in the departments. The goal was enabling - the ability of the specialist departments to relieve themselves through bot development. At the same time, a central, lean RPA Center of Competence was to network the activities and experiences, build and expand methodological know-how, and establish uniform rules and procedures to ensure compliance".

Bots eliminate time eaters

Representatives of the specialist departments were therefore already involved in the evaluation and selection phase. After the decision for UiPath was made, the goal was to ensure the acceptance of the specialist departments for the broadest possible use of the bots. Initially, small RPA teams were formed in the specialist departments through information events, and then useful projects were sought. Corinna Möcklinghoff, head of the RPA team in the Life division: "We worked with expert colleagues to find processes that are particularly unpopular, take up a lot of time or require many clicks but little real expertise. With our small RPA team in the department, we then automated these processes via RPA. The fast results and the great relief have inspired and ensured broad acceptance.”
Important to know: The RPA teams in the specialist departments of Gothaer Versicherung are rather loose groups. Only one part of their activity is bot programming. Carsten Langhammer explains with a smile: "RPA is not an exclusive topic for young, IT-savvy people. The range in our RPA teams extends from 19 up to 60 years. RPA thrives on trial and error as well as on close integration with the departments. After a short time, almost anyone can do this and everyone in the RPA teams can take on other tasks in the specialist departments.”

Lean organization

The decentralized RPA teams are supported by the central RPA Center of Competence. Three to five people work here. Important: These employees hardly program any bots themselves. Their main task is the connection, as well as to transfer know-how, to establish standards, to organize training and to support the RPA teams in the specialist departments. For this purpose for example, monthly RPA meetings are organized. "These meetings are not boring strategy meetings with lots of IT technical terms, but real working meetings. The RPA teams exchange best practices and provide each other with useful tips - for example, how to solve problems in the interaction of bots with data-bearing legacy systems. Over time, a kind of RPA community has developed. This prevents head monopolies with dependencies on individual experts," says Corinna Möcklinghoff.

Flexible working in RPA projects

In the meantime, the search for RPA projects has become more targeted. The specialised company departments are investigating which processes bots have particularly high potential for.

"The great thing is that we can also very flexibly automate sub-processes or temporary actions - for example the distribution of data from Excel lists to several systems or smaller checks where data has to be retrieved from different systems. That doesn't sound great to outsiders, but in everyday life it is a huge relief from time wasters in the specialist departments".

The use of bots is also flexible. These can be started for individual processes and observed at work. Only when they are working properly they take processes from their own inboxes and process them completely in dark processing. If unforeseen events occur, the bot aborts processing and escalates to employees in the department. "This, too, has significantly increased acceptance. The majority of employees in the specialist departments now see the added value and actively participate in the selection and in the RPA projects," says Corinna Möcklinghoff.

An unusual role for an IT service provider

The last important component of the successful implementation is the IT experts of Macros Reply. Carsten Langhammer: "Macros Reply plays an unusual role in our concept. As in other projects, they advised us on the choice of tools and supported us in setting up and tailoring the IT infrastructure and back-end. Less superficial and dominant, but at least as important is the role as enabler. For us, they are part of the CoC team and are not only familiar with the technical processes in an insurance company, but also with the procedures, methods and rules for RPA projects that we live by. Departments can book Macros Reply resources on their own budgets for projects if they consider it appropriate. In this way, temporary bottlenecks can be overcome and projects can be accelerated. A kind of stand-by mode, which specifically does not create any dependencies on the service provider, but allows a rapid scaling if necessary.

The hybrid model has proven itself

"The hybrid approach has brought the desired benefits for our Group, and the use of bots improves service speed in the specialist departments", says Carsten Langhammer. "We were able to successfully break through old silos and experience a truly agile collaboration of all departments". After one year of full operation, Gothaer Versicherung has between 25 and 30 bots in constant use. Some of them are only temporarily in use, others permanently relieve the employees. The areas of application are manifold: new customer acquisition, claims processing, service accounting, correspondence digitization with transfer to the electronic insurance file and much more. "Thanks to our approach, we benefit from short paths: Each line of business has direct contacts with its RPA teams, who in turn are the central CoC. In addition, with Macros Reply we have a competent integration partner at our side who can immediately help us out in case of capacity bottlenecks," adds Corinna Möcklinghoff.

Der Gothaer Konzern ist mit 4,4 Mrd. Euro Beitragseinnahmen und rund 4,3 Millionen versicherten Mitgliedern eines der größten deutschen Versicherungsunternehmen. Die Produktpalette erstreckt sich im Privat- und Unternehmerkundengeschäft über alle Versicherungssparten. Dabei setzt die Gothaer auf eine qualitativ hochwertige und vor allem persönliche Beratung der Kunden.

Macros Reply is an expert in digitalization and automation of business processes for insurance companies and financial service providers. In order to meet their high standards, Macros Reply develops flexible and configurable software for the core functionalities, enhanced with solutions from selected, tested and long-term partners. Using innovative technologies such as Process Mining, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Machine Learning, Macros Reply helps its customers in their transformation into modern, fast acting companies: Relieve the processing from routine work and support value-adding activities, with benefits for the customer in significantly reduced processing times. Macros Reply also stands for: ECM, transaction processing & DMS, distribution rules, workflow & process management, eFiles and ePostboxes, and archiving.