William Hill Use Case

Enabling the Automated Enterprise in Online Gambling

William Hill selects industry experts to accelerate their Automation journey

Successfully deploying RPA at scale across a large and diverse business can be challenging, as many organisations have found out, but William Hill knew the value that an effective process automation programme could bring, and from prior experience, were ready to realise their goals. From working previously with Lawrence & Wedlock at another leading gambling operator, the head of Customer Operations already knew how RPA could transform key processes in the gambling industry for the benefit of employees and customers, and they were keen to commence that journey with William Hill.

As one the one of the world’s leading betting and gaming companies, William Hill has operational teams based in the UK, Malta, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Manila and the US, managing the huge number of people, processes and systems to ensure the best possible customer experience, whilst meeting an ever-changing regulatory environment and directives from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is an ongoing challenge. Customer Operations therefore had a critical and expanding role to deliver a robust and reliable service, and the potential benefits of RPA were immediately obvious.

Overview
William Hill is one the one of the world’s leading betting and gaming companies, with annual revenue in excess of £1.5bn, and a diverse, exciting range of well-known brands and sports betting products.

Overview
William Hill is one the one of the world’s leading betting and gaming companies, with annual revenue in excess of £1.5bn, and a diverse, exciting range of well-known brands and sports betting products.

Enabling the Automated Enterprise in Online Gambling

William Hill selects industry experts to accelerate their automation journey

Successfully deploying RPA at scale across a large and diverse business can be challenging, as many organisations have found out, but William Hill knew the value that an effective process automation programme could bring, and from prior experience, were ready to realise their goals. From working previously with Lawrence & Wedlock at another leading gambling operator, the head of Customer Operations already knew how RPA could transform key processes in the gambling industry for the benefit of employees and customers, and they were keen to commence that journey with William Hill.

As one the one of the world’s leading betting and gaming companies, William Hill has operational teams based in the UK, Malta, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Manila and the US, managing the huge number of people, processes and systems to ensure the best possible customer experience, whilst meeting an ever-changing regulatory environment and directives from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is an ongoing challenge. Customer Operations therefore had a critical and expanding role to deliver a robust and reliable service, and the potential benefits of RPA were immediately obvious.

Building on Earlier Progress

William Hill had previously experimented with workflow automation technology to automate some customer due diligence tasks, which although weren’t ground-breaking and the technology was fairly limited, were robust and reliable, and William Hill were convinced that an RPA programme would deliver the results they sought. However, they weren’t entirely sure how to really get started on a fully scalable RPA journey, so William Hill turned to automation specialists Lawrence & Wedlock, to help realise their vision.

William Hill knew from prior experience that there were several RPA products with a wide range of technical features and prices, but on the recommendation of Lawrence & Wedlock, selected UiPath RPA for the initial pilot automation project. Due to the industry experience of Lawrence & Wedlock, a fairly complex and ambitious process was chosen for the pilot phase of the RPA programme, ‘Cross-Brand Self-Exclusions’.

This process involved processing customer account exclusions upon their request, but also required identifying all known associated and linked accounts for a customer plus searching for any possible duplicate accounts across several different and unintegrated systems and William Hill brands. In people terms, this process would consume the equivalent of 20 full time equivalent staff to perform the ongoing steps. Working with the process teams, it began by fully understanding and defining the existing processes, identifying automation improvement opportunities and outlining the solution design requirements. This essential task took several weeks, due to the number of different systems, brands and screens involved and the high number of variables, but the effort was worth it, and allowed the development and testing to be both comprehensive and completed successfully. The longest phase of the project was to establish a safe, secure and compliant IT environment that the automation would eventually operate from. With the final pilot process live, a single robot could complete the full process within just 2 minutes per customer on average, representing a 90% reduction in time per customer account, with 100% accuracy and total time returned to the business of approximately 20 full time equivalent worker hours per year – which they could instead spend delivering higher value services to their customers.

In addition to completing the pilot automation, we also asked Lawrence & Wedlock to help us develop an automation pipeline. To this end, we invited them to join our annual extended leadership meeting and present to a selection of our senior management team on the art of the possible with RPA. They ran a live demonstration and our execs learnt how easy it was for a business user to submit an automation idea and even how to build a simple robot using low-code technology. It was a huge success, and we left the event with around 80 automation candidates, that we could then begin to validate and prioritise.”

They ran a live demonstration and our execs learnt how easy it was for a business user to submit an automation idea and even how to build a simple robot – it was a huge success, and we left the event with around 80 automation candidates, that we could then begin to validate and prioritise.”

With the successful delivery of the pilot process, work began to start prioritising the pipeline for delivery and a number of processes were selected based on their respective value to the organisation. In parallel, the fundamental concepts for a successful automation programme were introduced, including an RPA Governance Framework, RPA Charter and a Technology Roadmap that would underpin the future plans and help manage everything from infrastructure through to design, build, deployment and support of all robotic process automations.

These essential frameworks laid the foundation for the evolution of the programme work that followed, from proving the concept through to establishing and expanding phases and ultimately to scalable readiness.

Establishing the Automation Roadmap

The plan was to work on up to four new processes each quarter, each with a different delivery timeline and defined benefit. The focus remained on the Customer Operations processes, but also included activities from the Retail, Commercial and other more traditional back office areas too, in order to sustain the momentum and excitement from the extended leadership meeting.

A number of important process areas were prioritised across Responsible Gambling, Customer Services, Risk and Compliance, Customer Due Diligence, Trading Operations and Gaming Operations, where it was felt there would be a good balance between improving employee and customer experience, reducing manual workload and optimising processes for an exponential benefit.

Lawrence & Wedlock were asked to take the lead in collaborating with the various William Hill process teams to fully discover, define and design the automated process solutions, and then continue to build, test and deploy those processes, using unattended robots that operate with minimal dependency on the operational teams. The essential routines and schedules were set up to optimise the RPA license management and ensure operational service level expectations could be met. The majority of automations included user-definable and modifiable configuration layers containing key business process variables that the teams could update as and when requirements changed, without having to re-build the solutions. This gave the necessary scalability and adaptability the business so greatly needed and allowed robotic capacity to be diverted accordingly when volumes dictated.

The automation pipeline developed quickly and exceeded our stated expectations. The performance of the solutions has been truly impressive, one such process required a robot to process over 9 million data entries, which it not only did 99% faster than people ever could, but it also checked and verified its own work for errors, which gave the operations team real peace of mind. On the first run through of the live data, the robot was able to process so many transaction lines in just minutes, saving hours of work per day”.

The automation pipeline developed quickly and exceeded our stated expectations. The performance of the solutions has been truly impressive”.

Expanding the Programme & Extending Our Reach

Several more processes followed, being first added to the pipeline, then evaluated to ascertain the complexity and suitability for automation and verify the potential benefits to the business. A rhythm was soon established enabling the automation lifecycle phases to get completed in sequence and prepared for operational go live.

The programme very soon begun expanding horizontally across the business with more automation candidates being submitted and finding their place on the delivery pipeline. With solid foundations laid and a growing appetite across the business for automation, the time was right to progress to the next phase on the journey by expanding the automation pipeline further and preparing for controlled scale at pace.

Essential to this next phase of growth, were two key elements: The first, deploying a scalable steady state infrastructure to support the ambitions of a company-wide deployment of robots. The second, training today’s business users to become tomorrow’s robotic process developers.

Working with William Hill IT, the first step was to define the future automation architecture – they decided to continue with UiPath automation technology with robots residing on the William Hill internal networks and robot orchestration on the cloud (what UiPath call Cloud Orchestrated Automation). A plan and timelines were agreed, and the work was completed in weeks along with the implementing the ongoing best practices to scale quickly and safely but at ease as demand dictated.

Next up was to build the automation developer team that would enable William Hill to scale those heights. Lawrence & Wedlock devised a tailor-made training academy programme to be delivered over five weeks covering the essentials of the automation lifecycle. Students were recruited from several operational areas of the business, fifteen in total, for the first training wave.

In week one the recruits settled in, gained an appreciation of the automation lifecycle and its various phases and became familiar with the technologies they would be learning for their future roles. In week two, reality dawned, and everyone began to realise that although RPA is simple, it’s not always easy, as the pace of the new skills and challenges gradually increased. Week five brought the academy course to a close with a series of practical challenges to really test their understanding. It was an incredible journey for them, and they’d all learnt not only the art and science of robotic process development, but how to practically deliver results within their operating environments.

In parallel, we developed the essential operating foundations that will support and guide the pathway to scaled automation, which consisted of a company-wide Automation Charter with detailed Governance Framework and Playbook. These importantly set out the rules of engagement for the automation teams with their internal business customers and all other stakeholders and beneficiaries of the programme.

The recruits completed the course and graduated just before the Christmas break. They continued they’re education in the new year with practical experience and learning on real process automation projects. We’ve truly begun laying the bricks that will help transform our future operations”.

Preparing to Scale New Heights

“Back To The Future…Of Work”

A number of new initiatives were then planned and delivered to help the RPA programme evolve and continue to flourish, which spanned technology, people and process and included:

  • Advanced Automation Technologies including Cognitive Robots and Conversational AI powered by Machine Learning  to expand the diversity and complexity of process automations and deliver even greater benefits.
  • An Automation Idea Chatbot, driven by AI, as a direct engagement tool for the business teams to suggest candidates, receive real-time feedback and begin the discovery process.
  • Automation Agent Academy Foundations and Advanced level training waves for further batches of tomorrows RPA teams for continuous learning and improvement of the RPA teams.
  • Development of the Central RPA Hub and creation of new roles to help drive, monitor and manage the continued and scaled growth of the RPA programme across more areas of the business.