Veera the Robot is a member of the accounting team. She has assumed responsibility for simple routine tasks. She is a computer program whose workstation is on a server. Although she is somewhat invisible in the office, she uses the same programs as the other team members, and also has an email account and user account. In practice, Veera is, therefore, a virtual co-worker who makes life easier for the other team members.
Robots are similar to people in that they can be trained and taught to perform tasks, which means that a robot can also develop in their work. Over the course of a year, Veera has been taught the various accounting tasks – in practice, the same jobs that people would do. However, the teaching methods differ slightly from those used with people.
Since the accounting team do not know what’s going on in Veera’s “mind”, software developers are needed for the teaching and orientation. In collaboration with mail software developers and automation specialists, Veera is provided with operating rules and instructions for performing her tasks. Veera is also different from human workers in that she does not (yet) accept exceptions to the rules. When she learns an assignment, the action is straightforward and there is no place for much improvisation.
RTR team lead Olga Prussakova and RTR finance process owner Pille Kruuk are Veera’s workmates. They have been involved in Veera’s induction, ensuring that Veera is introduced to the team as smoothly as possible. The team members act as Veera’s work leaders, giving assignments and scheduling her work. It has also been a learning process for the humans on the team.
“Last Christmas we made schedules for our employees, but we forgot to prepare the schedules for Veera to carry out her tasks. After the holidays, there was an error-message backlog”, Pille says with a laugh.
The performance of the robot is also monitored: when a job is not progressing as desired, Veera is given corrective feedback. This involves explaining what went wrong in the assignment and how Veera could perform better the next time.
Accounting Evening Shifts Become History
Veera has changed and improved the team’s work in many ways. Thanks to her, the amount of manual work has fallen, as Veera manages up to 77 per cent of some tasks. As a result, other team members have been left with more time to do meaningful tasks, and their workload has declined.
For example, the accounting workload before the end of each month has eased, and the other team members no longer have to come in early and stay late with Excel files and programs, as Veera does it on their behalf. The team members only need to check that Veera has completed her assignments correctly.
“Veera has saved us a lot of time, and through that, our approach to automation has changed. Nowadays, we humans can focus more on value-generating work”, Olga says.
In addition to Veera, seven other robots are already working in Posti – and their number is increasing all the time. Collaboration is evolving constantly as both team members and robots learn more about the possibilities of cooperation. Collaboration between robots and people is an excellent opportunity to learn new things, reduce manual routine tasks and provide customers with more affordable and better services in the future.
“Posti is one of the largest companies and employers in Finland, we must be part of a modern society”, Pille says.
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