The State Treasury was seeking experience and understanding of the possible applications and benefits of software robotics. The goal was to learn about the opportunities offered by the new technology, find out where software robotics could be used and develop the suitability of robotics for State Treasury operations.
The software robotics investigation and trial project was initiated in the State Treasury last June and the actual trials took place in August and September. The trials were implemented for processes carried out by Lending and Compensation Services.
‘The trials were a great success. For example, the important information relating to an applicant’s compensation decision, which used to be transferred manually, was transferred by the software robot from one system to the other in a matter of seconds’, explains Project Manager Petri Pehkonen.
Many use cases found
In the project’s early stages, two workshops were organised: one for lending tasks and one for compensation tasks. In both, a number of work tasks were identified which could be automated and carried out by software robotics.
‘Workshop participants learned that routine tasks are good candidates for automation. These include, for example, tasks which deal with data located in information systems in a structured form. This data is then processed in predetermined ways, for example saving to a different information system, comparing with data in another information system, carrying out different kinds of checks or identifying exceptions in a large body of data’, Mr Pehkonen continues.
In total, around 70 work tasks / use cases were identified, of which 40 were studied more closely. Assessments were made, based on several different criteria, of how much time the tasks consumed and their suitability for automation. Three work tasks were then chosen to be trialled out with the robots.
Working time freed up for other tasks
The lending services robot trial involved testing how well the software robot could export the withdrawals, part payments and interest transactions reported by credit institutions which had ended up in the error list. Currently, the information is exported manually. In the trial, the robot exported the data in a matter of seconds – the same task carried out by a person takes around half an hour. The time savings were very pleasing, and it is hoped that the software robots can soon be brought into regular use.
‘Loan administrators are very happy to get rid of the boring routine tasks as this leaves more time for the jobs that require human consideration’, says credit specialist Maritta Rignel.
In the soldier compensation application trial, most of the data was successfully imported into the system with the help of robots, but the importing of the answers given to the application’s open questions did not succeed. ‘It wasn’t a problem with the robot, but rather with the application form, which therefore needs to be developed further. Simple expense decisions are good candidates for robotic automation. For example, many invoices are received from pharmacies for compensation transactions’, explains Systems Specialist Sanna Kavén-Alanko.
‘Having successfully carried out the trials, the State Treasury will continue its implementation of software robotics. Our goal is to have the first set of tasks being handled by robots by Summer 2018. Based on our experience with these, we will then decide on further measures to be taken’, says Development Director Lasse Skog.