How TTI is using RPA to remix work and spend more time with customers

By Cheryl Wilson

 “ … we’ve put 10 bots into production that will save 34,000 hours of staff time this year.”

– Jake Brown, vice president of IS Global Development at TTI


TTI, Inc. — a major global provider of electronic components and products — had a problem common to many companies across industries: skilled employees were spending too much time on lower impact tasks, leaving less time for higher impact work. In one instance, TTI employees were tied up for hours managing and tracking electronic components — time that could’ve been spent building relationships with customers … your classic knowledge worker’s dilemma.

While inventory management is important for TTI, especially with 800,000 units in stock in North America alone, the related processes were slow and manual, involving many departments. Just handling new pricing models from suppliers took hours of crunching numbers and manipulating spreadsheets. And the only person who knew the process — all 26 steps of it — was retiring.

“We had inefficiencies which could lead to delays and downtime,” Brown said. “And this affects our customers, suppliers — all of our relationships.”

How TTI solved its knowledge worker’s dilemma

After seeing what another company achieved with IBM, TTI scheduled a Discovery Workshop. During the workshop, they built a bot to handle the new pricing model process using IBM Robotic Process Automation with Automation Anywhere, with help from IBM Business Partner BP3 Global.

“They really proved this platform could handle something that complex,” Brown says.

The new pricing model process can now be executed in a fraction of the time with almost no oversight, freeing the employee to work on higher value tasks. TTI also retains the process knowledge when the staff member retires.

But this performance story goes beyond inventory management. The use of IBM RPA with Automation Anywhere quickly spread as other departments saw the value of more efficiency, cost savings and time to focus on more important work.

In billing: TTI’s customers need to know which items incur tariffs. Before automation, it took five finance employees almost two weeks every month to gather and deliver this information. Using the IBM tool, a bot was written in two days that could handle all 400 hours of manual effort, allowing staff to work on other things.

In quality control: Recalls used to take weeks and involved a lot of routine research. Now, with the click of a button, a bot does it in about four hours. Employees use the time saved to talk with the suppliers so they’re prepared — something bots can’t do.

In IT: Staff gained productive hours by using the tool to write bots to perform scrubbing, saving them from writing scripts all day. 

Back in finance: Before an employee can reach out to a customer about a disputed invoice, they need to pull data, which previously took days. Now, a bot tracks down the historical data so employees can have meaningful conversations with customers more quickly. Icing on the cake: automating the dispute research saved USD 600,000.

What’s next?

“It sounds like we can cut back on people, but that’s not it at all,” says Brown.

Allowing staff to focus on important human relationships is critical to TTI’s philosophy and success. Using RPA is just the first step in remixing work — blending automated and human processes — to drive growth and free people to work on things that can’t be automated.

If you’d like to learn more about TTI’s story, watch Jake Brown — in his own words.

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