The newly-appointed CEO of an electric and gas utility company was eager to leave his mark on the business. The utility was the largest division of its parent, a Top 15 (by customers) utility holding company in North America. Within the industry, the CEO’s division maintained a long history of adopting leading-edge operating methods, technologies, and management styles. Having spent the bulk of his career with the division, he had very specific changes in mind, but he wanted to look broadly and assess opportunities across the entire organization.

Prior to the CEO’s appointment, the senior management team had aggressively pursued new technology to sustain operating margin. A round of high-profile technology investments—including a costly, outsourced robotic process automation (RPA) “Center of Excellence”—yielded small, rapid gains initially. But soon, the “citizen developer” teams struggled to find opportunities (use cases) to automate, and progress slowed to a crawl. Senior management was disappointed with the performance of their investment and sought a major increase in use cases.

A series of recent rate-case disappointments, along with contractual increases in labor costs, acted as catalysts for seeking large-scale improvements and benefits. The CEO had appointed a full-time internal team to address the rapidly accelerating margin erosion as well as the RPA use-case shortfall. Their preliminary analysis and summary-level benchmarks validated the existence of major improvement potential. Early, casual investigation identified high levels of
error corrections, scheduling issues, and excessive cancellations of work orders and projects. The team needed rapid documentation of large-scale, end-to-end (E2E) business processes, but lacked the time, tools, and expertise to deliver these.

The Lab’s templates quickly convinced them that the entire division could be mapped at the activity level within a matter of weeks.

Client Description, Project Scope, Objectives

A U.S.-based, regulated utility company and a division of one of the Americas’ largest energy providers, the client operates more than 20,000 miles of electric and natural gas transmission and distribution lines serving more than 3.5 million customers. The scope of the effort included all operations and organizations except for the support functions (Finance, Human Resources, and most of IT). The primary objectives targeted improvements that could be achieved without major new systems, capital investment, or facilities closures. The secondary objective was to ensure that the organizations involved collaborated in the effort supported the changes, and agreed to the benefits targets.

Additionally, The Lab’s effort was designed to support and integrate with existing initiatives. For example, all the work would be conducted alongside the CEO’s previously commissioned full-time dedicated team. Automation development and deployment was coordinated with the specifications and resources of the existing Center of Excellence team. And several workstreams were designed to be sufficiently compatible (e.g., IT systems, regulatory compliance, union work rules) to be utilized by other utilities divisions of the parent company, in the immediate near term.


The enterprise-wide initiative began with a ten-week Phase I analysis. The Lab documented over 15 end-to end business processes across the utility, from engineering and construction through customer service.

The Lab’s database of utilities operations templates—including industry-standard KPIs, process maps, benchmarks, best practices, automation “use cases,” and more—enabled rapid documentation and analysis of more than 85 percent of employee work activities (approximately two minutes each), while only requiring one hour per week of any subject matter expert’s (SME’s) time. The Lab’s patented, template-based approach achieved several analytical goals:

• Accelerate business-process mapping, which had been historically slow and tedious.
• Identify applicable automation and standardization improvements from The Lab’s database.
• Document gaps in existing technology utilization, including features, functionality, and add-ins.
• Normalize application and system event log data to enhance reporting and benchmarking.
• Prepare business processes for AI-enablement for real-time reporting and decisions.

Coordinating and reconciling the client’s data with The Lab’s templates resulted in E2E maps and improvement opportunity “inventories” that could easily be remotely reviewed, refined, and validated by all employees within the project scope.

This Phase I effort delivered a self-funding business case and work plan that launched a ten-month, Phase II transformation project to implement the most valuable groups of improvement opportunities selected by the senior management team..

Phase I Findings

The client initially balked at the notion that the utility’s vast operations could be documented in “nanoscale” detail over a short period of time. However, The Lab’s utilities templates enabled a successful pilot demonstration during the Phase I initiative.

The Lab’s detailed analysis identified over 300 activity-level improvement opportunities. Capacity models revealed stunningly large (from the client’s viewpoint) cost-reduction and/or avoidance opportunities—over 30 percent for certain organizational areas.

But the CEO wanted to look beyond cost savings. With that in mind, The Lab grouped projected benefits into broad categories related to the senior management team’s strategic objectives: cost reduction/avoidance, safety, information security, compliance, and customer experience.

The Lab’s staff worked jointly with client team members to group each improvement opportunity into about 12 distinct workstreams for implementation. These workstreams were further segmented and prioritized into sequential “waves” based on benefits and staff availability. Examples:

The ten-month, self-funding Phase II implementation effort succeeded in moving the needle across the board for the senior management team’s strategic objectives.

Specific improvement goals were established by department and/or by workstream, and the organizations involved could perform the work with any mix of resources they chose: internal resources, The Lab’s resources, or others. The Lab maintains a three-tiered service-offering structure (plus ongoing post-implementation support) to make this as flexible and sustainable as possible for clients:

The Lab provided hassle-free post-implementation hourly sustainability support for this client to maintain automations, process standardization, and operational data analytics models implemented during the Phase II engagement. If the client’s team was not up-skilled enough to perform any needed automation updates, they leaned on The Lab for Tier 3-level support. If analytics dashboards required additional views or data connected, The Lab’s team was a simple phone call away.

The Lab consolidated the 300-plus improvements into a self-funding implementation work plan

Organization-friendly engagement design

At The Lab, we’ve spent three decades refining every aspect of our transformation engagement model. We’ve made it easy for clients—from the C-Suite to the front line—to understand and manage the initiative:

• Minimal use of client time: One to two hours each week, maximum.
• Measurable benefits: Typical 12-month ROI is 3x to 5x.
• Pre-built templates and tools: Process maps, data models, bots, and more.
• U.S.-based, remote delivery: Nothing is ever outsourced or offshored.

Designed to reduce risk, increase success

Since 1993, The Lab has led the industry in eliminating risk for our clients. Whether your engagement involves a handful of bots or wall-to-wall transformation, we make it easy to do business with us:

• Fixed pricing and clearly defined scope
• Pre-project feasibility/value assessments at nominal cost
• Early-out checkpoints and options
• Money-back guarantees

The best way to appreciate the power and elegance of RPA loan bots is to see them in action for yourself.

Simply book your free, no-obligation 30-minute screen-sharing demo with The Lab. You’ll see real banking bots in action, blazing past at up to 45x human speed, error-free. And get all your questions answered by our friendly team.

Simply call (201) 526-1200 or email to book your demo today!


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