Nippon Life Insurance Company

At NISSAY, experienced female employees, guarantors of the accuracy of the administration, strive to create a new work style along with robots, allies who never make mistakes

Highlight
  • 50,000 work hours saved each year
  • More than 100 robots in use in 49 different business processes
  • Digital workforce dispatched to branches all over Japan

For life insurance companies, the volume of work can greatly vary throughout the year. In such a context, a business that recruits, quickly trains and dispatches temporary employees has emerged. During its search of ways not to rely on human wave tactics anymore, Nippon Life Insurance Company (Nissay) quickly turned its attention to solutions to delegate routine work to computer software. Even before the concept of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) appeared in 2014, the company has started using it in a real business context. 4 years after its official introduction, the company is now using robots in 49 business activities across 2 insurance departments. Not only has it achieved its goal of making office work more regular, but it has also freed the equivalent of 50,000 work hours per year. From 2018, it has begun to expand this to departments outside accounting and finance, as well as to the other branches across the country. Having been able to optimize single-unit operations through robot substitution, it is now focusing on the improvement of a series of entire business activities, and has started a demonstrative experiment to link RPA and BPM (Business Process Management) in one of its departments.

Business Challenge
Focusing on automation as a response to temporary increase in business activity
Pioneers who dared apply RPA at its earliest stages

Trust in intangible goods such as life insurances is backed by office workers of who 90% are women. Mistakes are not allowed, and the job content gets regularly reviewed according to law reforms.

Before reaching the quarterly settlement, the volume of work in life insurance companies fluctuates a lot, for reasons such as the expiration of certain products. In the past, the company was able to deal with this situation by recruiting temporary staff or by using overtime work, but obstacles such as repeatedly training inexperienced workers to reach a high level in a short time have become a big burden.

That is why it decided to confront temporary increase in the volume of work by moving its attention to software robots that would automatically address routine tasks, and hence not relying on the human wave tactics anymore. The company started considering implementing them in 2010 and use them in the workplace from December 2014.

It is known to be those pioneer users who dared make use of RPA at its earliest stages, before the concept itself had the time to spread across the country.

Why BizRobo!
Adopted as their  "only option", it has remained their main strength
In operation for more than 4 years at NISSAY, BizRobo! has experienced almost zero unexplained errors so far

In 2010, when the company was considering implementing a software solution, the RPA tool “BizRobo!” was the only available option, and it has remained to this date its main strength.

Bizrobo! is one version of a “server-based RPA tool”, which communicates between computers and servers when operating. For some of Nissay’s work, it also makes use of desktop-based RPA tools, which appeared later and which can complete data processing within the computer itself.

If compared to desktop-based RPA, server-based ones are more easily manageable, though their initial costs are relatively important. However, the interviewees told us that using the server-based BizRobo! RPA tool, either for improvement or for business transformation, gives them results that were anyway greater than the sustained costs.

BizRobo!, which has been in operation since the earliest stages of RPA in Japan, has suffered almost zero unexplained errors so far. “Even if a problem emerges, we are confident a solution will be found”.  These words are one explanation of why the company continues to invest BizRobo! with the task of being its main strength.

Target Processes
Using robots in 49 business processes across 2 departments dealing with insurance affairs
Making use of the advantages of server-based RPA for simultaneous deployment, and scaling up the digital workforce

In 2011, the company began testing RPA at the back office of the insurance sales counter. It was then officially introduced in 2014 and began to be used at the back office for corporate insurance in 2017.

Since 2018, RPA has been in use at the back office for personal insurances, at the Customer Service Headquarters in Osaka. On top of that, RPA is being implemented at the General Affairs Department and the Asset Management Department, with plans to reach more than 100 robots in operation within year 2018.

Specific activities that have been robotized include: (1) tasks of moving data from files containing application information to insurance contracts, and registering them into the internal system; (2) tasks of registering into the internal system, contract information extracted from the barcode of documents received from the contractor after ad insurance payment request; (3) tasks of verifying the insurance adhesion status of a specific person, after an inquiry by a public agency.

Using the advantages of server-based RPA for simultaneous deployment, this has started to be implemented to all Japanese branches.

 

Entrusting robots with the task of linking data between systemsBefore Implementation àAfter Implementation
(※Source:Nippon Life Insurance Company

 Business Impact
They levelled out business processes, and freed 50,000 work hours per year
Because they can also work during the night, robots are helping with the “Work Style Reform”

If we compute the costs of employing traditional human workforce for the 49 business activities of the two insurance administration departments where robots have been implemented, we would realize that the efficiency improvement brought by RPA is the equivalent of 50,000 hours.

The results are not only quantitative; indeed, the use of robots have also limited the peak season and reduced the gap between busy times and off-times; balancing business duties is contributing a lot in relieving the employees of the burden of work. “We have been freed from the psychological pressure of educating temporary staff each time we face a peak period.” is one kind of opinion we have heard from those departments where RPA has been implemented.

Robots, which can also operate during the night, helped the realization of “Work Style Reform”.

For example, in the departments where received cases were counted only at the beginning of business hours, the rotation of employees with early morning shifts became obsolete once the counting task got delegated to robots and automatically processed. Not only does this safeguard the precious time of employees during the morning, but it also fundamentally suppresses disparities between situations the employee would think of as follow: “I came all the way here and there is not a single case”, or “There are 100 cases, so I have to speed up the processing!”.

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CORPORATE PROFILE
Company Name Nippon Life Insurance Company
Business content Life insurance
Website https://www.nissay.co.jp/
Respondents Manager, corporate insurance back office system reform promotion department etc.
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