THE HOME OF THE GLOBAL SOURCING STANDARD
Even in these challenging times, we @ the GSA are creating opportunities for the growth of business value through profitable and mutually beneficial business partnerships
qFor all types of firms (buy and sell side) :
üLeverage all government support packages for businesses and employers – GSA can advise on eligibility and long term impact.
üDon’t loose sight of staff wellbeing and morale during these times.
üWorking @ remotely – this will become a must-have as it becomes BAU, not a COVID BCP response. GSA can provide guidance impacts of policies, well-being, security, DP, talent sourcing
üContingent labour and IR35 – what should I do now that HMRC has deferred this?
üLegal guidance on services fulfilment and contracts – force majeure, frustration, deferring services.
üWhere to refocus digital transformation àsuccessfully shift from growth focus to P&L optimisation.
qBuy side :
üImpact on spend priorities in 2020-21, getting more value from suppliers, managing contract risk.
üSupply chain risk management and sourcing contingency planning.
üImpact on outsourced services and delivery of those by outsourcers (especially BPO).
üRetaining clients and continuing to deliver services – adapting delivery models.
üNew business opportunities and delivery models – nearshoring, automation, reduction in offshoring.
TTEC Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEC), a leading global customer experience technology and services company focused on the design, implementation and delivery of transformative solutions for many of the world’s most iconic and disruptive brands, today reports that the company will be participating in the upcoming Call and Contact Centre Expo. TTEC’s team in EMEA will be demonstrating many of its customer experience solutions during the event, held March 27th-28th in London.
The company recently reported fourth quarter and full year 2018 results, with revenues of $1.509 billion and organic growth estimated at between 7.5% and 8.6% in 2019. The growth has come from growing demand for digitising and automating the customer experience from the company’s embedded base and new clients, especially those in the disruptive, hypergrowth business market. The company also reported seeing an increase in the average contract size and the development of several mega deals in 2018.
Iain Banks, Regional VP International Markets, comments; “2018 was a record revenue year for TTEC and we are seeing rapid customer growth as clients look for digital solutions that transform their customer engagement strategies. In particular, we are seeing a significant demand for our enterprise-scale, SaaS-based, omnichannel cloud solutions, with increases to the number of subscription-based cloud contact centre licenses supporting many of our relationships with today’s leading brands."
This being no more apparent than through the company recently establishing customer experience operations in Athens, Greece, creating 250 new positions and extending its dialect capability with English, German, Italian and Spanish speakers for client programmes originating in Europe and around the world.
Banks continues; “Our digital-rich offerings are resonating with not only existing and new clients, many of which include disruptive and hypergrowth brands, but also with our partners - Upstream Works and TTEC have recently expanded our partnership across Europe.”
Wayne Kay, VP Digital, EMEA, at TTEC commented; “We’re delighted to have Upstream Works as a partner, working together to enhance our customer care and omnichannel solutions and deliver on business leaders’ customer experience goals across the region.”
TTEC will partner with Upstream Works, a leading mobile commerce platform provider, at the forthcoming Call and Contact Centre Expo to showcase the latest and most effective technologies and provide live demonstrations of their “Humanify® Enterprise” solution that can transform CX. TTEC can be found at stand 960 and will also be speaking at Seminar Hall 19.
TTEC Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEC) is a leading global customer experience services company focused on the design, implementation and delivery of tech-enabled transformative solutions for many of Europe’s most iconic and disruptive brands. The Company delivers outcome-based contact centre outsourcing solutions through TTEC Engage which operates and manages frontline and back-office business processes that support customer acquisition, care, growth and fraud prevention and detection and content moderation services - available onshore, nearshore and offshore. Additionally, TTEC Digital, the company’s digital consultancy, designs and builds human centric, tech-enabled, insight-driven customer experience solutions for clients. Founded in 1982, the Company's 52,400 employees operate on six continents across the globe and live by a set of customer-focused values that guide relationships with clients, their customers, and each other. To learn more about how TTEC is bringing humanity to the customer experience, visit https://www.ttec.com/emea.
TTEC Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEC), a leading global customer experience technology and services company focused on the design, implementation and delivery of transformative solutions for many of the world’s most iconic and disruptive brands, today announce that it has established operations in Athens, Greece, as part of the company’s growth activities in the European region. The company will hire up to 250 customer experience associates in Athens over the coming months.
The company views the Athens market as a prime option for providing customer experience services including customer care and support. The local market provides a rich candidate pool, with a highly-educated and multi-lingual workforce, and provides commercially attractive location availability. With excellent English, German, Italian and Spanish speakers who bring European dialect capability, these individuals will provide personalised and connected customer experiences for the company’s client programmes originating in Europe and around the world.
“Athens provides an excellent market opportunity for TTEC operations,” said Marty DeGhetto, Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President - TTEC Engage, TTEC. “With readily available and talent-rich personnel resources, we’re excited to create a local management team and begin hiring our newest brand ambassadors to deliver customer experience excellence.”
TTEC anticipates creating up to 250 jobs in Athens with the potential for further expansion in the market. The company is actively hiring customer experience associates to support an existing client programme, along with other key support positions. Employees will benefit from the opportunity to support a global company, potential career advancement, competitive pay, exciting employee rewards and bonuses and an interactive work environment.
The company appreciates the support in services offered by OTE Group - Cosmote e-Value and Invest Greece in establishing TTEC’s operations in Athens and looks forward to celebrating with a community grand opening this spring.
TTEC operates across Europe including locations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium and Bulgaria. In 2018, the company’s European team received a wealth of industry awards and accolades from organisations including the Global Sourcing Association (GSA), UK Contact Centre Forum (CCF), and Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA), recognising TTEC’s commitment to growth in the region.
For more information about TTEC, please visit https://www.ttec.com/emea.
To apply for available opportunities within TTEC, please visit https://www.ttec.com/careers.
TTEC Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTEC) is a leading global customer experience services company focused on the design, implementation and delivery of tech-enabled transformative solutions for many of Europe’s most iconic and disruptive brands. The Company delivers outcome-based contact centre outsourcing solutions through TTEC Engage which operates and manages frontline and back-office business processes that support customer acquisition, care, growth and trust and safety - available onshore, nearshore and offshore. Additionally, TTEC Digital, the company’s digital consultancy, designs and builds human centric, tech-enabled, insight-driven customer experience solutions for clients. Founded in 1982, the Company's 49,700 employees operate on six continents across the globe and live by a set of customer-focused values that guide relationships with clients, their customers, and each other. To learn more about how TTEC is bringing humanity to the customer experience, visit https://www.ttec.com/emea.
Contracting for RPA – The opportunities and pitfalls
Robotic process automation (RPA) is at a pivotal moment, firmly hitting the mainstream when it comes to digital transformation and more traditional BPO procurements.
Organisations have, of course, been dabbling with RPA for a number of years. However, a combination of maturing technologies from specialist providers, a concerted focus on RPA by more traditional players and changing workforces, have pushed RPA to the fore.
There are many real world benefits to RPA deployment. RPA can offer accuracy, scalability, inherent monitoring and data management capabilities amongst other benefits.
RPA deployments forming part of wider outsourcing arrangements, can present increased risk to the customer organisation, intensifying traditional hazards that should be considered in any contract for RPA. Below we focus on three key areas; implementation, maintenance and change control, and vendor lock-in.
RPA deployments are often highly bespoke and the approach to design and implementation is often specific to individual business lines and processes. This presents unique challenges for deployment at scale:
• Project scope and phasing: Is the customer locked-in to a wider roll-out from the outset? Many projects will include an initial pilot or proof of concept phase. However, successful roll out to one set of processes or a particular business line does not guarantee success in other areas. It is important to document the circumstances under which a customer can walk away or source the RPA elements from an alternative vendor, not just following an initial pilot phase, but as the wider roll-out progresses.
• Acceptance testing: The contract should include robust acceptance testing procedures, both vendor testing and end user testing, to ensure the deployed robots function as expected. Acceptance criteria are often left to be determined post-contract or documented in vague terms that lead to disputes as implementation progresses. It is important for the procurement and business functions to work together to document what ‘success’ looks like in an objective, quantifiable manner.
• Price impacts: The contract should also address price impacts of failed or delayed roll-outs, particularly where the provider has baked-in assumptions based on RPA deployments. Which party takes the financial risk of failed deployment will depend on a number of factors, but should not be left as an ‘agreement to agree’. Common issues include the reason for failure (something that can be surprisingly difficult to determine and is often the result of a complex web of circumstance), whether the RPA solution was sourced direct by the customer or the vendor, whether the customer ‘imposed’ its preferred solution on the vendor and the degree to which the vendor has been granted ‘free reign’ to deploy RPA.
Maintenance and change control
Responsibility for ongoing maintenance of RPA tools is an issue that sets RPA apart from other types of system deployment. RPA tools are often highly sensitive to underlying system and software changes. The issue to
• Ongoing maintenance: Which party will be responsible for ongoing maintenance? Will the vendor be providing an ongoing, managed service, or will a third party vendor or the customer itself be responsible? In a multi-sourced environment, who has overall responsibility for planning and coordination? If a third party vendor is to establish a ‘centre of excellence’ or equivalent team, will that team be employed by the vendor or the customer?
• Change control: Which party will be responsible for the provision and cost of change and maintenance resulting from changes to the customer’s wider IT environment? This might include changes to hardware, software (including version upgrades), changes to data feeds and structures, all of which can have significant impacts on the functioning of the RPA solution. Again, this should not be left to be dealt with through the contract’s change control procedure as these are key operational issues that will arise on a regular basis.
Avoiding vendor ‘lock-in’
Vendor and technology lock-ins are a key risk in any RPA deployment. A key consideration for any customer will be whether to source their chosen RPA technology direct or through their outsourced service provider. In either case, the contract should address whether the customer will be permitted to use the solution on exit and migration to an alternative solution.
• IP ownership: Who will own bespoke developments and scripts relating to the RPA deployment?
• Exit: If the RPA solution is being provided through an outsourced provider, will the customer have a right to purchase its own licence on exit?
RPA deployment as part of digital transformation and outsourcing projects must be given special consideration in the vendor contract to the possibility of undoing the real world benefits that RPA deployment can deliver to the customer organisation.
By partners Mike Pierides and Simon Lightman at global law firm, Morgan Lewis
Mike advises on matters relating to new technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence following major outsourcings, strategic restructurings, and technology-specific transactions such as licensing and “as a service” arrangements. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: +44.20.3201.5686
Simon advises on a broad range of commercial, technology, and data transactions, particularly in the context of robotic process automation. He advises on complex outsourcings and procurements, software licensing, and cloud and other “as a service” arrangements. Email: email@example.com, Phone: +44.20.3201.5625
GSA Announces UK Award Winners for 2018
The Global Sourcing Association (GSA) formally announced the winners of the GSA UK Awards on Thursday 22nd November at the Marriot London Grosvenor Square.
The GSA UK Awards now in its fifteenth year recognises and celebrates the efforts of companies who have demonstrated best-practice in sourcing. The Awards took place after the GSA’s UK Symposium, which was centred on Reshaping Sourcing.
Kerry Hallard, CEO of the Global Sourcing Association UK said “The breadth of submissions to these Awards continues to increase, as we see ever more dynamic and innovative collaborative programmes presented to us. Again, a very impressive shortlist and all those on the shortlist should be commended.
The live judging process adds an extra dimension to the awards and really helps differentiate the winners through a live interview process. Congratulations goes to all the winners”.
The full list of winners are:
Utilities Project of the Year
Scottish Water, Vision Consulting, Burnt Oak Partners and DLA Piper
Telecommunications Project of the Year
Webhelp (Sky Mobile Sales)
Financial Services Project of the Year
Prudential PLC, Deloitte and Ashurst LLP
Public Sector Project of the Year
Thoughtonomy and NHS
Delivery Destination of the Year
International Project of the Year
Best Contribution to the Reputation of Strategic Sourcing
Business Services Project of the Year
Technology Enabled Project of the Year
Three UK & Tech Mahindra Business Services Ltd.
Innovation Project of the Year
Transformation Project of the Year
Automation Project of the Year
Lloyds Banking Group with Symphony
Transition Project of the Year
CDS and Metropolitan Police Service
Excellence in Partnership
EE & Infosys BPM
Excellence in Collaboration
Law Firm of the Year
Slaughter and May
Customer Experience Provider of the Year
Service Provider of the Year
TCS & Diligenta
UK Employer of the Year
Sourcing Works – Award for Value Creation
TCS & Npower
About the GSA
The Global Sourcing Association (GSA) is the industry association and professional body for the global sourcing industry. We are the home of the Global Sourcing Standard, a world first for the provision of a portfolio of best practice methodologies and accreditation programmes supported by both buyers and suppliers of sourcing.
The GSA is a not-for-profit membership association which serves to share best practice, trends and connections across the globe bringing the global community together in a wholly interactive manner for the first time. Its overriding objective is the ongoing development and dissemination of the Standard and supporting portfolio of qualifications in order to improve the benefits and positive reputation, and therefore size, of the global sourcing industry.
For further information, please contact the GSA team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0)207 292 8680.
GSA UK Awards shortlist announcement
The Global Sourcing Association is delighted to announce the 2018 GSA UK Awards shortlist. Winners will be announced on Thursday 22nd November 2018 at the Marriot London Grosvenor Square.
The GSA UK Awards now in its fifteenth year recognises and celebrates the efforts of companies who have demonstrated exceptional innovation and best practice in their sourcing.
Global Sourcing Association CEO, Kerry Hallard said:
“The calibre of submissions gets better every single year. As the industry undergoes it’s reshaping it is inspiring to see the incredible work that happens in so many organisations in the UK and around the globe. Those shortlisted should be very proud of what they have achieved.”
The Shortlist in Full:
DDC Outsourcing Solutions
Webhelp South Africa
Concentrix – Submission 1
Concentrix – Submission 2
GEP – Submission 1
Technology-enabled Project of the Year
British America Tobacco & Miratech
WNS and Oxygen
GEP – Submission 2
GEP – Submission 4
TCS and Npower
Three UK and Tech Mahindra
Law/Advisory Firm of the Year
About the GSA:
The Global Sourcing Association is the industry association and professional body for the global sourcing industry, and the home of the Global Sourcing Standard, a world first for the provision of a portfolio of best practice methodologies and accreditation programmes supported by both buyers and suppliers of sourcing. The GSA is a not-for-profit membership association with fully licensed, affiliate and associate members, and serves to share best practice, trends and connections across the globe. The Global Sourcing association has a presence across the globe and provides guidance in economies such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Egypt, China, India and the United States.
Contact Debbie Mackay: email@example.com
Kerry Hallard, President of the Global Sourcing Association and CEO of the GSA UK is available for interview – please contact Debbie Mackay
Consumers’ expectations have never been higher - the average contact center must support nine different communications channels – from post to phone, email and social media – and a seamless, 24/7 level of support is becoming the norm.
Providing this will require a new set of skills for customer service teams, as well as a growing level of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) as brands seek to deliver consistently excellent customer service to more customers across more channels.
Our latest report, Customer Service in 2027, predicts that in 10 years’ time 45 per cent of customer interactions could be automated.
Meeting expectations with automation
Here are three key ways that automation will transform the customer experience over the next 10 years.
Firstly, advances in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will mean that high-volume tasks will no longer need to be performed by a human, such as entering new customer information generated during a web chat into customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
These processes are repetitive and rule-based, so can easily be completed by RPA, and they can play a big part in making a more integrated customer service possible, freeing up staff to focus on more complex customer-facing tasks.
Secondly, AI can be used to process more complex data, powering self-service channels that can extract key information from customers, either by text or voice, and provide answers to frequently-asked questions.
That should mean shorter waiting times for customers to get the information they need and fewer basic queries for customer service teams, who can focus on more complex customer issues.
AI can also help build more detailed customer profiles to inform proactive product or service recommendations.
The third key role for automation will ultimately see the customer cut out of the process altogether.
The advance of the Internet of Things (IoT) will see connected products from fridges to cars communicating directly with contact centers without the need for any human interaction
In fact, our report predicts that by 2027 up to 60 per cent of the volume of interactions could be made up of automated communications between smart devices.
Retaining the human touch
It’s easy to see how, in 10 years’ time, automated systems will be at the heart of contact center operations, but this doesn’t mean they will replace human representatives.
We actually forecast customer service staff numbers to rise over the next decade, as the level of automation is offset by increasing volumes of customer interactions.
But these roles will ask more of agents as customers will only be speaking to a person if their enquiry can’t be resolved by an automated process.
This means employing representatives with a higher level of problem-solving skills as the role shifts towards dealing with more complex customer issues. And it will impact on recruitment and training in the sector, with constructive coaching to upskill existing staff.
We will also see a greater demand for new roles such as designers, data scientists, consultants and solution architects, who will help to implement and manage new automated technologies and ensure that they truly compliment representatives’ skills and deliver a seamless service.
So, while it’s easy to see how automation will have a huge impact on customer service over the next decade, the sector will never lose the human touch.
Sykes Enterprises, Incorporated (“SYKES” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: SYKE), a leading provider of multichannel demand generation and global customer engagement services, announced yesterday it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Symphony Ventures Limited, or “Symphony”, the leading global pure-play and best-of-breed provider of RPA services. Founded in 2014 and headquartered in London, UK, Symphony is a premier provider to blue chip clients, offering RPA consulting, implementation, hosting and managed services. Approximately 200 people strong, Symphony has one of the largest independent global teams of Intelligent Automation experts. With a proven track record of success in automating thousands of front, middle and back-office processes at marquee brands, Symphony serves numerous industries globally, including financial services, healthcare, business services, manufacturing, consumer products, communications, media and entertainment. Symphony holds partnerships with leading RPA software vendors, including Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, NICE, Thoughtonomy, and UiPath and has grown roughly four-fold since fiscal year 2016.
The strategic rationale for the Symphony acquisition is compelling as it:
Definitively positions SYKES as an early mover and a clear leader amongst its peers in its ability to support clients’ RPA and IA initiatives globally across all facets of their business operations while enabling it to tap into an adjacent market estimated to be $8.1 billion growing at a roughly 30% compound annual growth rate;
Further enhances SYKES’ service portfolio and creates additional differentiation in its go-to-market strategy to penetrate new clients and verticals and increase wallet share within existing clients;
Enables SYKES to drive innovation in transaction workflow streams in order to enhance agent productivity and drive greater agent satisfaction given the current labor backdrop while helping to navigate long-term labor and demographic headwinds; and
Complements machine learning capabilities from XSELL Technologies that are tied to digital sales with Symphony’s capabilities tied to enhancing customer service thus optimizing the whole customer life cycle journey and management.
President & Chief Executive Officer Chuck Sykes commented, “The acquisition of Symphony is another significant step in building our company’s capabilities to succeed as the digital revolution continues to transform our clients’ businesses, their customer service needs, and by extension, the customer support industry. Combining the power of RPA with human ingenuity enables us to help our clients modernize, optimize and integrate key components of their digital operations to significantly improve their business, as well as improve their customers’ life cycle journey experience. The world of intelligent automation systems is approaching a tipping point, and we’re excited to be able to participate in this new technological advancement in a meaningful way. In that regard, I want to congratulate the Symphony team on their accomplishment of building a leading global brand in this new and exciting field and welcome them to the SYKES family.”
Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, the Company will pay a cash purchase price of approximately £52 million, or $69 million at pound-dollar exchange rate of £1-to-$1.32, for 100% ownership of Symphony Ventures Limited, which is expected to be funded through a combination of cash on hand and the Company’s credit facility. The purchase price is approximately 2.0x 2019 projected revenues. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close on or about November 1, 2018. Symphony, through its innovative practices, has developed a well-recognized brand in the industry, which it is expected to retain post acquisition. The management team will remain in place after the transaction closes and will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the business.
Chief Executive Officer of Symphony Ventures Limited, David Poole, stated, “Symphony has rapidly grown over the past four years to become the digital operations partner of choice for numerous enterprise clients looking to implement RPA and IA solutions. This growth has been due to the efforts of our highly trained and experienced team that take a process first approach to digital transformation to ensure we deliver top notch quality each and every time. Both SYKES and Symphony are innovative pioneers dedicated to improving customer and client experience. By joining the SYKES family, Symphony will be able to realize the next chapter of our vision to orchestrate the world’s work and drive value for our clients and employees.”
Results International Group, LLP served as a sole financial advisor to Symphony Ventures Limited on the transaction. Symphony Ventures Limited was also advised by Acresis. Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP served as SYKES’ legal advisor, while Withers LLP served as Symphony Ventures Limited’s legal advisor. London headquartered Livingbridge, an investor in Symphony Ventures Limited, is a mid-market multi-sector-focused private equity firm.
Across a multitude of sectors, service providers are facing increased competition and regulatory pressures, with the aim of driving higher levels of customer satisfaction. In finance, the new open banking initiative, introduced by the UK Government, has resulted in a shift towards increased customer transparency, encouraging competition into a market that was previously closed to all but the largest of entrants.
Meanwhile, Energy UK announced that more than 5.5 million energy customers switched electricity supplier during 2017. In addition, the regulator, Ofgem, is capping the price of standard variable (SVT) and default tariffs and encouraging customers to shop around for better deals. Therefore, the key question for service providers across sectors is how to attract new customers and retain current ones in an increasingly competitive and regulated marketplace?
The place to start is around customer interaction and communication, which is key to meeting the expectations of discerning customers. However, regular service rankings and complaints data issued by regulators, including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Ofgem and Ofwat, all serve to demonstrate the scale of the challenge when it comes to customer engagement.
Providers must ensure a high standard of quality assurance when handling customer interactions in the first instance, reducing the number and complexity of complaints that often result in unnecessary costs or damage to reputation. Effective customer contact is a crucial opportunity to improve satisfaction and retention levels, while simultaneously attracting new customers who are seeking a better level of service. Often, working with an external partner to deliver these outcomes ensures an objective assessment of areas for improvement and focus.
In addition, putting effective contingency plans in place for sudden and unforeseen spikes in customer queries and complaints should be an important part of a service provider’s preparation. For instance, the surges in complaints Ofwat received as a result of the ‘Beast from the East’ and the summer heatwave, should act as a wake-up call for water firms to prepare for more extreme instances of weather and the customer interactions that will ultimately follow.
Turning to the world of retail banking, app-based challenger banks have demonstrated that customer service teams can be available immediately at customers’ fingertips, and traditional banks need to keep up with this digitised, customer-first approach. It is imperative service providers embrace technological solutions and operational improvements to better handle customer complaints, resulting in an enhanced, streamlined experience. Complaints are raw, direct interactions with customers and should be treated as valuable sources of information about business services and processes, highlighting potential trends to learn from and address.
All firms should routinely review complaint paths to analyse the causes, not just the symptoms, and identify any particular business processes that may be causing problems. It is essential to have sufficiently granular management information (MI) on the complaint caseload to be able to address systemic issues. Where there are particularly high levels of complexity in complaints – for example, challenges around vulnerable customers – it’s important to consider putting in place new processes and experienced teams to focus on effectively finding an appropriate resolution, while upskilling and training existing teams to ensure they are prepared for future issues.
In addition, the correct outsourcing partner can deliver collaborative expertise when a company needs it most. A high-quality provider should offer effective root cause analysis (RCA), which allows companies to identify problem products and services that may be driving complaints. By fixing problems internally and creating an environment in which issues are identified and rectified before they escalate, firms are able to look beyond symptoms and see genuine improvements in business performance and for customers.
Switching providers is easy and encouraged, but service providers must cut through the noise and differentiate themselves from the competition by providing a positive customer experience, which is something increasingly sought by consumers. It is time to take stock and reassess how customers and their complaints are dealt with, treating each one as an opportunity to build brand loyalty and improve consumer retention.
Huntswood can relieve the pressure of handling large volumes of complaints and other forms of inbound customer contact and provide its clients with a wide range of services that deliver good customer outcomes and business efficiencies.
London, 8 October 2018: Working with Thoughtonomy, ESNEFT has cut the time taken to process the first stage of each GP referral from 15-20 minutes down to five minutes. The program will eliminate the need for staff to spend more than 100 hours a week processing paperwork and instead ensures referrals are actioned 24/7.
The intelligent automation program, which has been running since July 2018, is the first of its kind within the NHS and is initially being deployed in five specialist clinical units – Neurology, Cardiology, Urology, Nephrology and Haematology. Within the first 3 months, the Trust released more than 500 hours of medical secretaries’ time and estimates it will also save £220,000 in associated direct costs by July 2019.
Darren Atkins, Deputy Director of ICT at ESNEFT, said: “We’re delighted with the results we’ve realized so far and are hugely excited about the potential benefits of automating more processes across our Trust. When you look at the time and cost savings we’ve already banked within just one specific area of our operations, you start to get an idea of how intelligent automation can drive transformation on a huge scale within the NHS.”
Using the Thoughtonomy Virtual Workforce® platform, three virtual workers at Ipswich Hospital actively monitor incoming referrals from the national GP Electronic Referral Service (eRS) in real-time, 24 hours a day. As soon as a referral is received, the virtual worker reads the content and extracts the reason for referral. It retrieves all relevant referral data and supporting clinical information such as scan and blood test results from disparate sources, before merging everything into a single pdf document. The virtual worker then uploads the document into the Trust’s administrative systems using highly secure smart card technology and alerts the lead consultant that the referral is ready for review and grading.
Prior to the automation program, medical secretaries were responsible for processing referrals manually, downloading and printing documents, which they then scanned into a new document. In a large Trust such as ESNEFT, which deals with around 2,000 referrals per week, this was a huge drain on medical secretaries’ time.
According to the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), automation could save the NHS up to £12.5bn a year, the equivalent of 10% of its annual budget. In addition, it is estimated that a further £6bn could be saved through automation in social care. The recent Darzi Review of Health and Care called on healthcare bodies to ‘embrace full automation to release time to care’ as part of a 10 Point Plan to future-proof health and care services in the UK.
Terry Walby, CEO & Founder of Thoughtonomy, said: “Intelligent Automation has a massive role to play in streamlining time-consuming and inefficient processes across the NHS. By absorbing a wide range of time-intensive, repetitive tasks, we can unburden staff from administration and allow them, instead, to focus on delivering the excellent quality of care upon which we all rely. We’re delighted to be working with forward-thinking NHS Trusts, such as ESNEFT, who are championing the use of AI and automation technology in order to deliver real benefits to hardworking frontline staff while reducing costs. This, in turn, translates into a better patient experience for all.”
Frontline staff at ESNEFT have welcomed the new automated process. Dr Petr Pokorny, a Staff Grade Neurologist, said: “It allows for a more efficient, fluent flow of work, as it’s easier to deal with five new referrals every morning rather than a huge pile of 35 referrals once a week. What’s more, we now have our medical secretaries fully focused on the things that make a real difference to our staff and patients.”
The new automated referral process supports ESNEFT’s obligations under the Standard Contract for 2018/19 to process all referrals via the Electronic Referral Service (eRS), and to optimize its operations in line with the Paper Switch Off program, which comes into force on 1st October 2018.
Thoughtonomy enables organizations to enhance the productivity of their workforce through the intelligent automation and digitization of knowledge work. It uses AI and robotic process automation software to emulate how people work, allowing companies to add flexible resources to their team without disruption and rapid ROI.