How does robotic process automation transform the spirits’ industry?
CEDC International is a dynamically growing organisation. Its growth is partly fuelled by the UIPath robots. Thanks to them taking over some routine and repetitive tasks from the workers, the company could redirect its resources to more strategic and at the same time ambitious and creative tasks. The final result was a big boost to work performance and elimination of errors from the processes handled by the robots.
Customer: CEDC International
Number of processes automated: 4
Utilised solutions: UiPath
Benefits: work performance boost, elimination of errors and possibility to reassign resources to strategic tasks
CEDC in brief
The Żubrówka, Bols Platinum, and Soplica vodkas, Carlo Rossi wine, Grant’s, Glenfiddich and Tullamore Dew whiskies as well as other liquors such as Metaxa, Jȁgermeister, Cointreau, Campari, Cinzano, or Remy Martin – are all iconic alcoholic beverage brands produced and distributed by CEDC International, one of the biggest beverage alcohol industry companies. CEDC was established in Poland at the beginning of the 1990s.
Interestingly, the source of success are not only the drinks but also their innovative packaging. By leveraging its expert knowledge and experience as well as by incessantly looking for new solutions, the CEDC is striving to keep improving the effectiveness of the development, promotion, and sales of its products.
The challenge: to optimise through digitalisation and automation
Innovativeness at CEDC is treated in a modern broad way. Although the company is in traditional business, it fully consciously embarks on projects that fit with the global trends of the digital transformation. Small gains in differing business areas, speeding up various business functions, finally translate to significant benefits for the organisation as a whole.
This is why the company is actively seeking ways to optimise its business processes using the latest IT solutions. One of the key functional areas where such search is going on is the financial department. A specially created organisational unit was put in charge of it.
“Digital transformation is a way to build competitive market advantage. One of the key digitalisation directions at our organisation is business process automation. We have commenced it with the master data and selected financial functions management process. This is an area where the processes are most stable and best described, however, in turn, they are extensive and error-prone, thus subject to performance delays. Initially we have focused on the implementation of an electronic documents management solution with an OCR system, and then decided to focus on the software robots that were to allow speeding up the processes and freeing the employees’ time” – [proposed statement by a representative of CEDC].
The company has by itself identified the most suitable candidate processes for robotisation and invited the specialists from Mindbox to work on them.
Solution: the UiPath robots take over data entry, application approvals and pass work to each other
The first two processes that were automated were the new supplier and new customer entry into the SAP application. This was a particularly mundane and tedious task. The employees in charge of the Master Data repository were receiving from the person bringing in a customer or a supplier a spreadsheet containing the data to be manually rekeyed into the SAP. Though in the case of suppliers, the number of entries was not a big workload; the monthly growth in the numbers of new customers was so significant that it started to become a data entry challenge.
The first successes resulted in a swift decision to go on with automating the related processes, including checking the trading partners against the white list of the VAT taxpayers maintained by the Ministry of Finance, generating tax office returns and other activities like the creation of additional IDs for partners (suppliers and customers) and indexes (products and materials) for the group wide reporting (the global master data). Thanks to the implementation of the UiPath robots, the data are entered automatically into the systems.
“One robot enters data into the SAP. Then the work is taken over by another robot that enters the data retrieved from the SAP to a SharePoint-hosted application. The moment an application is entered, the next robot takes over the work from the previous one – it checks and approves the correctness of the data entered. At this moment, the data is emailed to the first robot that approves the application and copies the Global ID number assigned in SharePoint to the SAP” - explains Jakub Bugdoll, Intelligent Process Automation Developer.
Using the opportunity, the robots also validate the customers against the REGON government companies register. This makes use of the API provided by the Statistics Poland. Mindbox has developed a relevant plug-in for the UiPath robot that allows performing an automated validation of customer’s data. Therefore, the employees do not any more need to go to the REGON registry website, enter the NIP (VAT ID) number and check the information by themselves. Interestingly, Mindbox has decided to publish this code, so now it can be used free of charge by all UiPath users.
The robotic automation projects were commenced in May 2020. Within less than six months, four interrelated business processes were seamlessly automated. As usual, the key to success turned out to be the good work organisation and communication between all project participants. Mindbox’s head developer was in ongoing contact with the CEDC’s process robotisation responsible. Therefore, it will not be an overstatement to claim that the project went on extremely smoothly, save for some small technical challenges. And surely, the customer’s good preparation for the project was important, as it provided a very quick launch of the robotisation project.
Benefits: speed gains – for the organisation, ability to focus on more valuable tasks – for the employees
Automation of four processes allowed saving the time the employees were spending on routine and error-prone tasks. Now the employees can focus on jobs bringing more value to the business. Before the implementation of the UiPath robots, one of the employees responsible for the Master Data area was about to leave the company. Thanks to automation, there was no need for a replacement and also another employee could be moved to entirely new duties.
The robots have stopped the seasonal workload peaks being a problem. Before the robots were implemented, handling the monthly batch of new applications took too much time. Today, a robot that within minutes responds to an arrival of a new application takes just a day to process them all. Merely 5% cases require additional human verification. At the same time, the performance of this process does not depend on the planned and unplanned absences of employees. This translates into improved business continuity.
“The robots have also allowed us to eliminate errors. Improving quality of data processed by the robots resulted in a boost to human work performance. Higher data accuracy at the same time provides the foundations paving way to more transformational initiatives” – [proposed statement by a representative of CEDC].
“Typically, the purpose of process automation is to relieve the employees as soon as possible, to provide them with more time so they can focus on the optimisation. Sometimes the robotisation provides a helicopter view of the processes, getting a better perspective that increases the effectiveness of the activities performed. Nevertheless, a robotisation implemented based on high-quality data allows additional speeding up of the processes being automated and reaping bigger benefits. In fact, both these strategies are good – the robots may enter at any time and provide a business value” – [proposed statement by a representative of Mindbox].
The robotisation of the four processes has additionally kicked off a small revolution at the company. Mindbox has organised workshops for the representatives of the other departments of CEDC, aimed at picking more candidate processes for robotisation.
So, the CEDC transformation journey supported by Mindbox with the use of UiPath robots is gaining momentum.