Edd has worked for the NHS for over 20 years. He was recently drafted to lead the Finance department of the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West. In the UK, Nightingale hospitals are the epitome of agile, fully functioning brand new hospitals that sprang into life as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Edd is the perfect person to drive complex programs at scale at the drop of a hat. Innovative thinking is Edd's speciality, and he has a long history of business improvement, performance optimisation and a solid agile delivery record.
It was Edd that oversaw Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust's adoption of Automation Anywhere, identifying the process that offered great tangible ROI with many more intangible benefits for the UK's second largest hospital network. Delivering a swift return-on-investment and establishing the confidence in Intelligent Automation, creating a solid foundation from which he is now building-on to make continued improvements for the foreseeable future.
Extra Technology is proud and privileged to be working with Edd, to achieve efficiencies across all aspects of UK Healthcare delivery, from administrative efficiencies to clinical advances. It's great to have him back and we caught up with him recently, where he kindly agreed for us to share - in his own words - the Trust's experience of their automation journey with Extra Technology:
Edd, how has the RPA journey been so far?
It's been really interesting, and certainly a lot more interesting and exciting than we would have thought back in the beginning. Clearly the pandemic has had an enormous impact on the NHS. Even areas far away from the front line - we've really felt that too. I think to get to where we've got now, feels like a massive achievement.
Why did you pick the process you did, and your first Bot?
Initially, we thought we'd look at several small finance processes – simple reports we produce every week, or every month – purely to gain confidence in RPA. We had lots of advice from Extra Technology, and I'm very pleased that we followed their guidance and thought much bigger. Selecting a process that would bring significant opportunities is not only a great ROI but doing something that would be beneficial to support our staff. Automating a process that everybody would understand would also be a real showcase for RPA across the whole organisation.
What are the benefits you are seeing?
We chose to go with complete end-to-end invoicing processing and that was based on around a quarter of a million invoices we process a year. And I'm very pleased to say that now we're getting really close to that number. It's been a lot of hard work and Extra Technology have been extremely patient with us. But now, the numbers are really coming through and all of a sudden, we can see that we've built something that's really special. I also think it's really going to change the way that we work and have a huge impact on the department.
What lessons have your learned?
We've definitely learned that it's worth 'thinking big' from the beginning. Pull it off, and with all the right support you'll have a rock solid case for automation across your organisation. Equally, when you go big, you need to expect there to be a few hiccups in the road; things a small project may not have to contend with. You just have to be brave, think big and persevere.
What advice would you give to people starting their automation journey?
Get all the key people involved from the very beginning. An exec sponsor is an absolute key, as is a dedicated IT support – they must be involved from the very beginning. I would also say you would need to get good external help if you're new to this. This is a big thing, a new technology area and without external expertise, it would be a significant struggle verses our experience. We've certainly learnt a lot from working with Extra Technology and at the beginning I think you just need some hand-holding. The other key thing is not to assume anything. Don't assume who your supporters will be. You might be fearful of introducing automation – it could just be the reverse. Just remain honest and remain true to your values. For us, that's improving the lives of our workers, whilst making the best use of our resources. So ultimately, we can support the delivery of excellent patient care.
What are MFT's next plans with Automation Anywhere?
These are extraordinary times for healthcare, and the way we work across our services from clinical to corporate has changed and a good chunk of that has changed for the better, but they've changed significantly. We've taken big steps forward from the invoicing Bots that we've built and some other Bots in Finance as well, and we really need to use that to showcase what's possible. I certainly don't have the answer about where all the opportunities are, but I know there are hundreds of them, and I know that my colleagues will.
What areas are you looking to target next?
I certainly have a list of processes from within Finance and across the organisation, from back-office functions through to clinical processes and they will keep us busy for all of next year, but as Extra Technology held my hand and my team's hand at the very beginning, I think now I need to show them what's possible and hold their hand and get them to 'think big' I think then the plan will write itself.
The project in summary
The NHS finance department processes over 250,000 financial documents per year. With a minimum saving of 10 minutes per document, this automation provides an efficiency saving of approximately £2million. Irrespective of the sectors we work in, the Automation Anywhere technologies used in this project will be applicable and will work in your organisation.
Click here to see how Extra Technology delivered rapid ROI when using Automation Anywhere's market-leading RPA product and how we improved patient outcomes by integrating AA with other leading Ai technologies.
At Extra Technology, we push the boundaries by getting the most out of Intelligent Automation, exploring what's available in Ai and continuing to make the most of this wonderful opportunity to transform and improve the organisations we work for.
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About the authors
Mark Mannion is Extra Technology's CEO and a recognised expert in Intelligent Automation and Enterprise Automation. Mark advocates a pragmatic approach to Automation, encouraging a policy of using 'the best tool for the job'.
Prior to co-founding Extra Technology, Mark worked in senior automation roles since 1992, architecting and delivering robust, scalable solutions for many of the world's biggest banks and working with leading automation vendors.
Mark is a regular guest speaker and panellist at Automation seminars, conferences and user group events.
Edd Berry joined the NHS over 20 years ago, quickly establishing a reputation for delivering efficiencies, optimising performance and improving patient experience.
Edd's roles have included Head of Performance and Information at Manchester Community Health, Deputy Director of Finance and Business Intelligence at Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust, Programme Finance Director at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and, most recently, as Director of Finance at Nightingale North West Hospital.
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