Veolia & Keytree RPA: Automating Audit & Compliance

Veolia is a French transnational company and a UK leader in environmental solutions, providing a comprehensive range of waste, water and energy management services designed to build the circular economy and preserve scarce raw materials. Veolia runs a global SAP instance managed from France but Veolia UK&I wanted to create a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) capability focused on automating more than 50 processes. By introducing RPA into its overall digital strategy, it will allow Veolia to transform and streamline processes without significant investment in IT systems.

Veolia engaged Keytree to introduce RPA for 52 audit and compliance processes – an approach that will deliver increased speed and agility plus a reduction in manual interventions for each process. The improvements in accuracy and reliability will be the catalyst to ensure the human workforce can instead focus on driving increased value for the business. But the delivery of a successful RPA deployment requires close collaboration between business and technology, plus a strong focus on process design and agile delivery. These skills and abilities perfectly align to Keytree’s strengths including extensive experience in defining and creating successful global Robotics Centres of Excellence to help organisations ensure business objectives are fully achieved.

“Keytree have implemented RPA into the Internal Control team for three of our controls audit processes, relating to our suppliers’ process. We are currently at the end of our integration period and have begun to extract real data that will be the basis of our results. The process is running reliably and to specifications, and the support we have received from Keytree has been fantastic, both at the start of the process and as the bot has been embedded. Keytree was always on hand to answer any questions and were very thorough in understanding the controls processes.”

Katherine Theodore-Durber – Financial Analyst, Internal Control and Process Improvement at Veolia

Keytree delivers RPA at Veolia

RPA uses software with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable processes that previously required humans to perform. These processes can include calculations, maintenance of records or transactions but for Veolia, the introduction of RPA, as part of its overall digital strategy, will help those who carry out these processes to achieve their full potential and move to more interesting activities.

Veolia decided to introduce RPA for 52 audit and compliance processes to replace swivelled chair activities as these were taking a huge amount of manual activity to carry out – moving from system to system to extract and then re-enter relevant data into Excel sheets.

Even when data was recorded in Excel it then needed to be reviewed before producing results. This time consuming approach at Veolia was a very tedious way of gathering information, and not the most efficient way of working.

The operational efficiency introduced by RPA will free up the time of high-cost individuals to investigate issues rather than spending time gathering data. Keytree uses a comprehensive set of agile methods and tools to guarantee quality delivery and at the beginning of the project set up workshops at Veolia to start the redesign of 52 audit and compliance processes, reviewing how these could be simplified and which steps could be removed to optimise information. But such an approach can only be successful if there is complete buy-in from the people who are currently running the process.

As Veolia operatives have a clear understanding of what works and what needs revamping and by capturing this information in a workshop environment, it allowed Keytree to develop an RPA strategy. By challenging an existing process, then redesigning each process for automation, it simplifies and removes redundant steps. An optimised process was then created using Blue Prism, Keytree’s RPA platform partner before creating a process flow.

Agile delivery for instant benefits

Keytree created an AWS cloud-based platform for delivery and split the project into three phases, each phase eight weeks in duration, to move process automation to production as early as possible followed by weekly releases to improve the automation. During phase one Keytree automated three processes and created a Development, Quality Assurance and Production RPA platform for Veolia – delivering seven reusable objects that will also feature in subsequent phases. Phase two will witness the automation of the remaining processes using the already delivered reusable objects plus the creation of two new objects to support the reconciliation processes – resulting in a further 15 automated processes. The third phase will complete the reconciliation process automation, creating new automation for Tax, Treasury, Close and Assets with a total of 18 processes automated.

Keytree ensured that as the project progressed a series of common steps, which collectively form a single process, were each covered by an object and once the relevant object is created it sits in the library ready to use in other processes, helping accelerate delivery. The common library, twinned with rapid deployment to production and client collaboration all enabled the swift delivery of the first three processes – delivered in less than four weeks. 

“We can already see an increase in efficiency, with the three questions previously taking three days to complete for the minimum amount. We are now able to run the process more often, across many more samples at a greatly reduced timescale.”

Katherine Theodore-Durber – Financial Analyst, Internal Control and Process Improvement at Veolia

The benefits at Veolia from the introduction of RPA are clear. Tasks that previously needed a high level of manual activity are now fully automated and whereas previously it could take up to five days to collect and process evidence, it now can take as little as half a day to carry out the same task. RPA also reduces the pain of ‘resampling’ where samples fail the audit and also allows the Veolia team more time to confirm compliance or investigate anomalies as opposed to extracting the evidence. As the project rolls out further processes, Keytree will deliver a framework for automating the additional audit and compliance processes – creating a library of reusable objects to accelerate future process automation.