Walgreens pharmacy in Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Anthony92931)

Walgreens Adopts Robotic Process Automation Solutions for HR from IBM and Blue Prism

In an ongoing expansion of a technology partnership, Walgreens is now using robotic process automation (RPA) solutions from IBM and Blue Prism to improve its human resources and customer service.

Walgreens, according to IBM, “is now using robotic processing automation to support its HR function, which meets the company’s high standards of security and governance while allowing employees to put more focus on their customers and patients.”

The pharmacy leader further highlighted its use cases in a presentation given at a recent intelligent automation conference in New Orleans by Curt Burghardt, senior director of human resources, shared services operations for Walgreens.

According to the Chain Drug Review, Burghardt said that Walgreens has, among other applications, used RPA in the following areas:

  • earnings and W-2 history requests
  • candidate interview scheduling
  • severance calculations
  • leave of absence notifications to managers
  • reopening of performance evaluations
  • paid time off (PTO) accrual calculations and input
  • Americans with Disabilities Act accommodation process

The case study presentation by Burghardt, per the Chain Drug Review, highlighted the role that automation and RPA have played in its overall strategy for employee management.

“Robotics is an integral part of Walgreens’ HR shared services strategy to allow our team members and leaders the additional time to focus on and better serve our customers and patients, thereby providing value to our shareholders,” stated the case study presented by Burghardt.

The Armonk, New York-based technology giant added that Walgreens is one of the many clients IBM has helped to adopt “intelligent automation solutions” aimed at improving customer service.

Both solutions fall under what IBM and U.K-based RPA pioneer Blue Prism refer to as their “digital workforce” offerings. This is the general distinction used in the industry to differentiate between RPA and other forms of software: robotic process automation is a technology that acts similarly to a human employee accessing the system through its own username to carry out repetitive tasks.

The two tech companies have been working to expand and enhance their digital workforce services for the past three years. The focus of rollouts like the one they have provided for Walgreens is about maximizing productivity and enabling automation at scale, according to the companies.

“Collaborating together we’ve seen great customer adoption from enterprises looking to leverage the latest automation and cognitive capabilities,” said Alastair Bathgate, CEO of Blue Prism. “Together we’re delivering an unbeatable value proposition across a broad range of industries — and we’re just getting started.”

In September, IBM also signed an agreement with Walgreens to deploy retail analytics at more than 8,100 of its locations in an effort to “improve the efficiency of field service support” at their drug stores, according to the tech firm.

Predicated on providing “data-driven insight,” the analytics solution combines with IBM Cloud “to determine the level of support that will likely be needed at each Walgreens location based on service request history,” something that over time can help managers at each pharmacy anticipate when they need to dispatch field technicians, for example.

“Extending our multivendor services capabilities to support Walgreens stores sets an exciting new benchmark in an evolving retail industry,” said Martin Jetter, senior vice president at IBM Global Technology Services, at the time of the deal.

Photo credit: Anthony92931

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