Robotic Process Automation improves efficiency of utility programs
With a rapidly changing energy landscape and rising customer expectations, utility energy efficiency programs are looking for ways to adapt to the increasing speed of business while continuing to meet energy needs. By incorporating new technology and innovation, utility programs can issue equipment rebates faster, meet aggressive energy savings goals, and enhance customer satisfaction. The incorporation of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one innovation that utilities can employ to operate their energy efficiency programs more effectively.
RPA uses software enhanced with artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) capabilities to quickly process large amounts of data and handle high-volume, repeatable tasks. This approach allows utility programs to automate data quality checks, documentation verification, incentive validation, and communications associated with energy efficiency project applications. Better yet, the use of RPA integrates best practices and new analysis techniques over time – helping to further streamline the application review process.
It is estimated that RPA can reduce the average time to process an energy efficiency project application by as much as 33 percent.
Key benefits of RPA with application processing
RPA offers many benefits to utilities including streamlining the application process, improving technical review efficiency, extending the work done after hours, and improving review accuracy. By leveraging this automation approach, utilities can focus program resources on higher value projects and generate cost savings – allowing energy efficiency portfolios the flexibility to provide enhanced project incentives to customers or performance bonuses to Trade Allies.
1. Streamlined Processing of Rebate Applications
Rebate application processing is a daily, time-consuming function for utility energy efficiency programs. Through the use of RPA, AI/ML capabilities with advanced algorithms and rulesets streamlines this process – resulting in greater accuracy, time savings, and better use of staff resources. It is estimated that RPA can reduce the average time to process an application by as much as 33 percent. Some examples of the automated tasks include:
- Integrating data rules for accuracy and consistency
- Processing and validating large amounts of data
- Highlighting upcoming deadlines, incomplete information, or missing documentation
- Populating data fields based on other inputs
- Logging issues that need to be remedied or addressed by a technical reviewer
- Sending automated notifications to program staff, customers and Trade Allies
2. Improved Technical Review Efficiency
RPA performs tedious tasks – such as data verification, incentive calculations, and documentation checks – that allow technical reviewers to focus more of their time on high value projects and one-on-one customer follow-ups. In turn, this increased focus on higher value projects will allow utilities to quickly process those applications as well – improving customer and Trade Ally satisfaction in the process.
3. Extension of Work Hours
Not only does RPA help streamline application processing and reduce review timelines, it also increases the amount of work that can be executed in a single day. The software can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – extending the work completed after normal program business hours.
4. Enhanced Accuracy
Through automation and the use of AI/ML, RPA is able to reduce data and processing errors associated with energy efficiency project applications. The software performs tasks based on specific rulesets and parameters that are dictated by the utility program. With these established rules, RPA provides utility programs with precise results and consistent outputs – incorporating an additional layer of quality assurance into the application review process.
RPA offers a technology-based approach that will change the way that utilities implement their energy efficiency programs. The software can transform program workflows – from data verification to application processing – while also providing exceptional scalability and flexibility based on utility needs. RPA also offers opportunities to streamline other program functions – such as pay-for-performance incentive delivery and customer service engagement.
For more than 30 years, Leidos has been integrating innovation and technology into our work for utility clients. RPA – which is currently being built into our award-winning AMPLIFY™ platform – is just one example of how our team is helping utilities adapt to an evolving energy landscape. Want to learn more about RPA and our other innovative approaches to energy efficiency program management? Contact our team today.