Direct Line to automate its two millionth transaction on Friday

Robot typing

Direct Line now automates 70,000 transactions a week and anticipates hitting the two million milestone by the end of the week, a conference heard.

Direct Line has been using robotic process automation, through which robots take over simple tasks, since 2015.

Christian Davis, Direct Line business services director, said: “We’ve got a capacity for 250 concurrent robots to run. We automate around 70,000 transactions a week and on Friday around 12:35 this week we will successfully automate our two millionth transaction.”

The insurer has taken a strategic approach to using RPA, but Davis revealed that it caused some tension between departments when the insurer began its project.

He added: “We started tactical, but you can only go so long, you’ve got to take those levels and effectively come up with a blueprint for your organisation. Automating parts of processes is interesting and that’s an approach that we took from our offshoring experience. What you are effectively doing is breaking the process.

“Most of our automation effort these days is on those end to end processes. Doing fewer processes, but they are far more impactful. That is within a roadmap that we set out for the next two to three years.

“It [the relationship with the IT department] didn’t start very well. Automation is a team sport. We made some mistakes there. Now it is quite interesting, our head of applications has moved to a place now where as well as the controllers and developers that we have within the business supporting the ops, he’s also had to cross-train his staff to be able to support our developers. So when they have down times on certain systems, they can flip in to supporting us. Once we earned the trust, they have been quite supportive.”

Davis was speaking at UI Path’s Forward EMEA conference in London.

Internal focus

Admiral automation manager Neil Davies also spoke at the conference, giving a light-hearted presentation on the insurer’s experience of RPA.

Davies revealed that it is trying not to take a competitive stance on automation, instead focusing on what it can do to improve its own approach.

He said: “I don’t know what Direct Line’s systems are like, I don’t know what their claims system is like, I don’t know what their finance system is like. We could have more processes, but what are we comparing? Apples, oranges? It’s really difficult. It’s difficult for us to take a view. Again, because we are really smug, it really doesn’t matter.”

One of the bigger mistakes his team has made is taking on processes that are too big, he revealed.

He said: “One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made is we’ve taken processes and they’ve been this big. We’ve said we can do that. And then we have given it to a developer and they have struggled to get the whole thing up. My favourite thing about the robots is you can chunk things up. We have got a total loss process, which means a lot of interactions with external databases, things like that. What we should have done is broken it up.”

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