Water-link is a fully integrated water company of the city of Antwerp and surroundings. It can rely on 140 years of experience. Water-link facilitates the complete (potable) water and sanitation needs of over 610.000 consumers.
It is the third largest water company in the Benelux, with a yearly production of 150 million m³ of drinking water. Of its yearly water production, 40% is supplied to industry, 20% is potable water for domestic use in the Antwerp region and 40% is distributed to other water companies. Together with their 524 employees water-link stands for reliability, sustainability and innovation.
Within the Finance department, water-link is faced with a high repetitive workload, for Back Office processes such as the processing of payments, invoices and the management of customer master data. For example, specifically in the process of disconnection or reconnection of customers, a high administrative workload is required to properly engage local authorities according to the LAC (Local Advice Committee) regulations.
Water-link identified Robotic Process Automation as a technological lever to automate such repetitive processes to increase efficiency, improve the job content of its employees and reduce errors.
Water-link decided to set up a strategic innovation program with Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Robonext was selected as local RPA partner and technology leader UiPath was chosen as RPA platform. In a first step, robonext supported water-link to quantify the business case of RPA and to identify and select the best use cases to automate by properly engaging the Finance team.
Subsequently, 10 processes in LAC operation, invoicing and master data management were implemented in UiPath by robonext. In a close cooperation with the water-link Finance and IT teams, all automations were toroughly tested and deployed in production. Governance aspects such as release flow, support model and versioning were worked out in detail to ensure a proper and robust setup.
Since September 2020, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has taken over 10 Back Office processes, so that those tasks are now performed automatically.
In the words of Kathleen Van Houtte, manager Back Office at water-link: “The Finance Back Office department is increasingly confronted with a high volume of manual tasks with a highly repetitive character. With RPA, we have ensured that the robot takes over some of these tasks, so that our employees can focus on more challenging and complex tasks. The project has demonstrated the added value of RPA by increasing the productivity and efficiency of a number of processes focused on invoicing and payment follow-up. Through an intensive collaboration with robonext, from process analysis to implementation to testing, we managed to successfully take our robot into production in the short term.”