Telco infrastructure provider Chorus is harnessing robotic process automation to efficiently provision new fibre connections and boost robustness and resilience.
Robyn Malcolm, Chorus' manager optimisation and insights, said software robots are providing Chorus with a new level of reliability, flexibility, accuracy, hours of operation and consistency.
The company started with three processes and five software robots developed in conjunction with Quanton. Today it has six core processes automated and 20 software robots allocated across the different processes.
The addition of the software robots has also resulted in a new, more skilled workforce, with a growing internal team focused on the intersection between automation and processes.
Fraser Hill, Chorus manager of service automation, said three of the automated processes are "business as usual" or the application of rules and workflow for orders within the company’s core systems and are subject to large variations in volumes.
“This really helps us to be more reactive and responsive," Hill said. "We can scale the software robots up really quickly to be more customer responsive than we could be before."
Chorus’ software robot workers, from Blue Prism, are handling around 55,000 transactions a month, delivering the equivalent of 12 to 16 full time equivalent staff.
The company has also deployed robots to help migrate end-of-life services on the copper network and legacy systems into new services and platforms. The five-year programme will ultimately see more than 100,000 customer services migrated onto other technology platforms.
Hill said using the software robots for the project makes the highly variable workloads more manageable and ensured work can be done outside of office hours.
“To manage it with people would be exponentially larger as you would need more people to deliver in short windows, they would work unsociable hours, require leadership and be largely unutilised for the remainder of the working week," he said.
COVID-19 and lockdowns also threw into sharp relief the benefits of having a software robot team, with the bots unimpacted by the pandemic and changes to working practices.
Malcolm said for Chorus, that’s also bringing new potential benefits, for instance, RPA comes into its own when you have control over previously outsourced processes.
"It means we’re not reliant on other people’s business models, so there’s a whole other level of benefit you can get from being able to automate these simple things," she said.
Chorus is now looking at integrating the robots with other technologies to provide even more value.
“We see software robots and RPA as one of the many tools we can use within a raft of different things that are automation,” Malcolm said.
Quanton managing director Garry Green said automation was empowering a new way of working.
“Chorus is a great example of a company which is finding quantifiable benefits through automation – in their case gaining resilience and robustness, relieving pressure on staff and reducing out of hours work, while gaining flexibility and credibility," Green said.