Achieving Operational Excellence with New Technologies

By: Gino d'Hont

According to a list of business priorities for organisations’ attempting to achieve operational excellence by Business Transformation & Operational Excellence (BTOE), the implementation of new technologies ranks amongst the highest. In the search for operational excellence, this is the path that Gino d’Hont and innogy SE have taken. Using both process mining and RPA, Gino and his team have begun to make substantial changes to business operations at innogy SE, with a complete restructuring of their iJoin procedure. We spoke with Gino about his opinions on using process mining and RPA to achieve operational excellence. Learn more below.

When did you begin implementing new technologies at innogy SE?

"We’ve been running bots across several customer contact departments at innogy for a number of years. In the Retail Energy Management unit that I’m responsible for, we started implementing RPA in the second half of 2017. This whole procedure began with implementing process mining tools. Going into the implementation process, many people believe they know all of the ins and outs but when you really utilise the process mining tools you can see significantly more detail and complexity in the process that wasn’t clear beforehand. From the process mining procedure, we gained fact-based overviews and insights into core operational processes and from there began to discuss how RPA can be used to attack and improve waste categories."

Do you think that a combination of Process Mining and RPA is more effective than using just one tool?

"Yes definitely, at least from our experience of using the tools here at innogy. With process mining you move beyond the gut feel of how processes are running and really begin to understand the complexity of each and every process step. I think process mining tools give you the starting point and with RPA you can attack the specific parts of the process where you see the biggest problems. The two tools work together as a continuous improvement circle, both of the tools monitor and check the work of each other. With process mining, it gives you insight at the beginning but can also help after you have implemented bots to show you how the process is currently running."

What impact are these tools having on your business?

"We have a few clear examples of the benefits but I’ll try and explain one example in detail. Our iJoin procedure is a process where new customers join innogy from another energy provider. This procedure has a lot of different tasks running through numerous systems across the company. For example, you need to ensure the previous provider is aware of the switch as well as making sure the new customer is set up in our systems. Since the process is long and complex, we often saw issues with customers not being set up correctly or receiving the wrong invoices and you simply don’t want to confront a new customer with those kinds of issues. So, we used process mining to investigate this procedure and saw very clearly all the errors and waste going into the process and from that information we attacked the specific aspects of processes that weren’t working with RPA tools. Now, more customers are being set up and are receiving the right documents first time around, we’re clearly seeing the benefits from using RPA and process mining technologies."

Why do you think these technologies are important in achieving operational excellence?

"The energy market is currently going through a huge transition in moving away from traditional forms of energy production. There are new and innovative companies entering the market, so there’s a lot of competition for us, it’s a call to action. As a business we need to improve, we need to become more efficient, to lower our cost to serve and to keep up with the competition. I think that's where process mining and RPA are becoming tools that are important for our business and are supporting us through this process. It’s making us more efficient, reducing our waste and freeing up time for individuals to complete more value adding tasks."

Gino will be joining us in London at OPEX Leaders Europe to speak in more detail about how process mining and RPA have influenced process improvements at innogy SE.