PwC with Royal Mail

Performance Improvement in the Private Sector

Royal Mail Group (RMG) is the UK’s largest postal services business, delivering 16 billion items a year. It sits proudly as the nation’s most recognised, most trusted provider, thanks largely to its army of postmen and women – its ‘feet on the street’ who are such an important part of local communities up and down the country.

Despite this popularity, increased competition and the demands of the COVD-19 pandemic have challenged RMG’s business model. A transformation was needed. As part of the solution, RMG built a Centre of Excellence (CoE) to simplify its working processes and establish a ‘digital workforce’ using robotic process automation (RPA) – a project dubbed its Process Simplification and Automation Programme (PSAP).

PSAP’s challenge was to implement RPA across RMG’s business at scale, to deliver greater efficiency, improve ROI, and improve value for customers. RMG asked PwC to help expand PSAP into its Field Operations division – namely its 100,000 postal workers in 1,250 offices across the UK.

COVID-19 brought an additional layer of complexity, in that the team needed to create enough capacity within RMG to preserve its high levels of customer service at a time when parcel volumes were increasing (by 27%), but so too were absence rates amongst staff (peaking at 19.5%).

PwC’s objectives were to deliver 600,000 hours of capacity to the Operation in nine months, through process redesign enabling improved efficiency and effectiveness; £15m of sustainable value in the financial year; and improve the employee experience of the front-line managers by ‘taking the robot out of the human’, allowing more time to be focused on the customer.

It was a complex undertaking that PwC needed to deliver quickly and accurately. The team therefore used the latest lean techniques combined with a data-driven approach to redesign processes in a pragmatic way at pace, never losing sight of the all-important people aspects of any transformation programme.

The team comprised a powerful mix of management consultants and technology consultants alongside operational restructuring specialists. They worked together with RMG personnel from both the RPA CoE and Field Operations to deliver the required capacity increase in just a few weeks.

The programme was multifaceted, ranging from discovery and design sessions with front-line field operators, to regular updates with the Group’s Transformation Board. This ensured the programme not only touched all levels of the business, but also enabled strategic initiatives led by the Board.

PwC’s team ultimately helped RMG to deliver 650,000 hours of capacity and £20m of benefits in the midst of the pandemic. A PSAP portfolio has been successfully established in Field Operations, delivering 15 interventions in 9 months, meaning the PSAP CoE now has 80 live automations, completing 350,000 hours of work a year for the business. ROI was also improved by over 110% from year 1 to year 2.

As a result of PSAP, Royal Mail staff are now able to better service growth, improve compliance, and focus on the activities that really matter for customers. As one Area Programme Manager concludes: “These projects are essential time-saving initiatives that enable our people to conduct more value-adding activities.”

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