Sky-high gains in back-office efficiency using RPA

By Cheryl Wilson

When completed, the Dubai Creek Tower will be the world’s tallest free-standing structure — scraping the sky at nearly four-fifths of a mile in elevation. It’s emblematic of Emaar’s sky-high ambitions as one of the largest real estate portfolio holders in the world.

To keep pace with business aims and revenue management, Emaar expanded its back-office operations. However, business processes, such as invoicing, contract management and bank reconciliation, remained heavily manual and prone to higher error rates. Too many employees were spending too much time on repetitive tasks, leaving less time for customer service or planning for the future. And during peak volume periods, office workers struggled to complete work on time.

“There were a lot of inefficiencies accumulated over years of fast-paced growth,” says Binoo Joseph, chief information officer (CIO) of Emaar. “A lot of the processes were a bit siloed and a bit dated. Before we could automate processes to actually bring in benefits, we had to attack the area of process re-engineering. And that’s where IBM came in.”

How Emaar addressed the inefficiencies

Emaar selected its Malls division for the initial deployment of the robotic process automation (RPA) solution. Targeting the Malls division gave them a significant opportunity to streamline operations for the Dubai Mall — the world’s largest retail destination with over 1,300 stores and 200 restaurants.

Collaborating with Emaar’s IT department, IBM focused on five back-office processes where automation could add notable value — transactional processes, such as invoicing, receipt management and reconciliation. A key part of the project was the development of a business case and deployment plan to guide the RPA implementation over a six-month period. Getting employees to willingly accept automation of their tasks was as important as the technology especially when it came to training bots and dealing with issues caused by noncompliance with data management processes.

“IBM expedited solving these issues and provided insights on how others had addressed them successfully,” says Joseph. “They helped convince our people and showed them how it could be done better.”

How did it go?

By implementing the IBM Robotic Process Automation solution, Emaar achieved the following results:

  • 86 percent automation of the total daily volume of processes
  • 40 percent reduction in staffing costs
  • 50 percent reduction in process turnaround time

“At the core, Emaar and IBM did something that ensures a cleaner process flow across the teams,” says Joseph. “We are redefining and improving the functionality of the system while doing the automation layer on top. This allows the business users to reap the most benefit out of what tech has to offer.”

Read the full case study.

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