Automating reconciliation and disbursement processes in the Accounts Payable function of a global insurance firm

Case study

Automating reconciliation and disbursement processes in the Accounts Payable function of a global insurance firm

Incumbent insurers generally persist with manual operations to handle large volumes of work in their accounts payable (AP) function. However, this creates a perfect opportunity for a high rate of delays, errors and omissions in the function. Needless to say, it leads to a domino effect for insurers: operations take a hit, costs mount and customers shift their loyalties.

With an ever-growing number of insurers fighting diminishing margins and vying for the top spot at the same time, the need for process improvement and standardization in AP is now far more than ever.

Alongside, there is a rising trend of automation making its way across most business processes. This has culminated in many insurance businesses placing their bets on robotic process automation (RPA) in AP.

  • The cost of a bot can be as low as one-ninth of a full-time employee (FTE).
  • Robots are also proven to work around 10x faster than a human resource.
  • They are also best-suited to perform repetitive tasks swiftly with reduced errors.
  • Bots are available 24 hours a day, compared to an FTE working in shifts.

With these advantages handy, insurers can leverage RPA in AP to achieve superior performance at minimal costs that have a direct impact on customer retention.

Our client is a US-based global insurance brokerage and risk management services firm. With a revenue of over $10bn, they are one of the largest insurance brokers in the world with offices in multiple locations.

Requirements

The majorly manual process of carrier premium disbursement (direct or indirect) can be very time consuming as it requires each AP item from a source record document to be replicated, located and handled in the Agency Management System (AMS).

Also, when disbursement reports are being finalized, the processor needs to reconcile the AP information and enter the required standardized ledger details for disbursement in the AMS. Along with delay, this also leads to errors creeping in due to the human handling of the repetitive process.

In an effort to reduce manual data-keying and shift the processors from doing tedious manual work to focus on other important ones, our client wanted to:

  • Automate the process of reconciliation and disbursement for the AP items.
  • Reduce the headcount of FTEs and move them strategically to other services.

Challenges

  • The process had strict TATs as part of the Service Level Agreements.
  • There was performance dependency on multiple applications, i.e., AMS and the carrier portal.

Solution

The goal was to create and implement RPA to support the client’s AP processing. We at Imaginea incorporated an RPA solution into the client’s Premiums Payable process with an aim to reduce manual efforts — thereby minimizing delays and errors — required in the current process.

The following steps were automated with our solution:

  • Reconciliation of premium payable amount fetched from the carrier portal to the AMS.
  • Entering rule-based standardized data and bank account information for disbursement in the AMS.
  • Capturing and saving the AP Transaction Reconciliation Report (TRR) in the carrier portal.

The client’s process underwent operational changes (E.g.: Time and order of loading the bot with requests) without which the bots could not be utilized efficiently and made to meet the TAT. The bot’s technical design was also adjusted to handle performance issues like latency.

Tech stack

How our solution helped

Accuracy in
data entry

Process
automated

Reduction in the
number of FTEs

Overall Approach

We tackled the situation through a three-pronged approach that made it easier for us to create and implement an RPA solution that would fulfil the client requirements.

  • Audit process maturity – We started off by assessing the system’s process maturity before undertaking the RPA initiative. Only when the business rules are defined and enforced at a granular level, would robots be able to follow those rules and lift process performance.
  • Identify automation areas – After it was determined that RPA is a good fit for the process, we identified the following hitherto manual steps in the Premium Payable process which can be automated.
    1. Reconciliation – Through RPA, this sub-activity would create a reconciliation AP statement in the AMS using the AP line items of the carrier invoice fetched from the carrier portal.
    2. Disbursement – RPA would enable the process of taking the reconciliation AP statement as an input from the AMS and entering rule-based standardized ledger data and bank account info for disbursement. Finally, an AP TRR would be created in the AMS, which would be sent back to the carrier portal via an API.
  • Classify and prioritize – Once the automation opportunities were identified, they were classified based on the below criteria and were prioritized so that they can be handled in phases:

The following diagram presents an architectural overview of the RPA solution implemented and how it works:

Results

  • Our RPA solution automated the processes of reconciliation and disbursement of the AP items.
  • Thanks to the solution, the client was able to save time and effort and reduce error rates.
  • The client was also able to reduce the head count of 17 FTEs who were dedicated to the Premium Payable process and shift them strategically to other services for process improvement.

Talk to us