world-procurement-awards-2022
Photo: Procurement Leaders

UNICC Joins PAHO as a Winner of the World Procurement Award 2022 for Digital Impact

PAHO and UNICC work together to develop Mia and Max bots

On 20 June 2022, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a specialized international health agency for the Americas, won the World Procurement Award for Digital Impact for its first ‘Digital Workers’, Mia and Max bots, developed by UNICC’s Robotic Process Automation Centre of Excellence and PAHO’s Procurement and Supply Management Team.

The World Procurement Awards, hosted by Procurement Leaders, recognize the most impressive individuals, teams, solutions and organizations in procurement.

This recognition inspires us to continue to provide innovative and efficient support to Member States. It also recognizes the organization’s ability to see challenges as opportunities, and the power of collaboration to achieve great things when we listen to countries, empower our teams, and work together.

Daniel Rodriguez, Director, Procurement and Supply Management, PAHO

After putting together a viable implementation roadmap, ensuring the correct architecture was in place and programming the bots, the UNICC’s RPA team started developing the two bots in October 2020.

  • Mia: A bot that assists the purchase of strategic products
  • Max: A bot with optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities that creates the Advanced Shipment Notifications (ASN), which provide national authorities with information about the details of their shipments and when they are expected to arrive.

Mia and Max went live in March 2021, as procurement became the first function in PAHO to establish RPA capabilities. With the implementation of RPA, between March 2021 and May 2022, the procurement team saved 1,660 hours committed to repetitive and non-value-added activities. Max processed 22,861 shipping documents.

We at UNICC are proud to help launch Mia and Max, and do our little bit to support the life-saving work of PAHO.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

The robots execute repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing the human team to forget about the paperwork and focus on strategic aspects of the procurement function, such as establishing the needs of the countries served by PAHO and enhancing relationships with suppliers. The implementation of Mia and Max allowed PAHO to speed up the process of providing COVID-19 health supplies, while sustaining the procurement of other vaccines, essential medicines, and strategic health supplies and equipment over the past two years. See an earlier news item about Mia and Max robots here.

Mia and Max are helping other team members with transactional tasks, so they can focus on better serving our countries. These bots are a great example of what UNICC can do to support the UN Family.

Daniel Rodriguez, Director, Procurement and Supply Management, PAHO

UNICC’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA+) Centre of Excellence has been delivering multiple automation solutions to over 20 UN Clients across various domains such as Travel, Finance, Procurement, HR, ICT, Healthcare, etc. The RPA team is ready to help. Please reach out to us at RPA@unicc.org for a demonstration.

UNICC RPA Solutions
UNICC RPA Solutions
Mia PAHO bot RPA
Photo: PAHO

PAHO Welcomes Mia and Max, Their First ‘Digital Workers’

The New Bots Developed by UNICC and PAHO Support the Procurement Process of Covid-19 Vaccines 

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has added two Acquisitions Technician to their Procurement and Supply Management team, two new members that can work 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, year-round. Mia and Max are PAHO’s first ever bots, and they have been developed by UNICC’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) team alongside PAHO’s Procurement and IT teams.

The robots execute repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing the human team to forget about the paperwork and focus on strategic aspects of the procurement function, such as establishing the needs of the countries served by PAHO and enhancing relationships with suppliers. 

Mia – Assisting the Purchase of Strategic Products 

Mia automates the purchase order requisition process. The bot downloads data from a spreadsheet report and uses it to fill in specific details in the ERP software Workday. A unique feature of this solution is that it is able to detect if a memo is written in Spanish and translate it into English.

A single purchase order requisition takes a human buyer an average processing time of 20 minutes, while Mia is able to do the same work in approximately 5 to 8 minutes, thanks to automating redundant and time consuming steps.

Mia and Max are helping other team members with transactional tasks, so they can focus on better serving our countries. These bots are a great example of what UNICC can do to support the UN Family.

Daniel Rodriguez, Director, Procurement and Supply Management, PAHO

Since Mia’s first day at work, the bot has been helping buyers with the purchase of strategic products, including Covid-19 vaccines for the American countries.

Mia is an unattended bot, which means that it is programmed to start at a specific time and keep working until there are no more purchase order requisitions in the to-do list. Then it waits until the next scheduled run to complete a new list. Mia is easily scalable – as seen with the push for Covid-19 vaccine distribution, the bot is able to process planned and unplanned increases in volume, helping to expedite the purchase of the much needed vaccine.

Max – More than a Software, a Key Member of the Team

Max is a robotic solution that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to automatically create Advance Shipment Notifications (ASN). The bot reads shipping documents, extracts relevant data points and adds them into Workday.

The creation of ASN is not only a time-consuming process, but it is prone to human error, due to the many data points that must be transferred from documents to the ERP software. With the new solution the PAHO team saves time and reduces the risk of errors in the documentation.

The bot is currently being trained. After it completes the task, it sends the document to a validation station where a human team member reviews and confirms the data has been correctly extracted. With each validation, Max increases its confidence level, and as time progresses its precision will be high enough for PAHO to allow ‘Straight Pass Through’ extraction. After validation, the bot enters the confirmed data into the system, after which the ASN is created.

The bot works on automatically completing the documentation on vaccine lots and batch numbers, as well as manufacture and expiration dates, a process that was not included in the previous manual system.

Beyond Mia and Max, the Potential of RPA

PAHO’s RPA journey with UNICC started on April 2020 with an initial analysis of automating opportunities.

PAHO’s IT team initially experimented with setting up its own infrastructure for RPA using Automation Anywhere and setting up its own MS Azure environments. However, PAHO decided to switch to UNICC’s “Bot as a Service” to leverage their RPA expertise and since that was more cost effective.

Patrick Hinderdael, Director, Information Technology Services, PAHO

With the experience of having delivered multiple automation solutions to over 15 UN Clients across various domains such as travel, finance, procurement, HR, IT and healthcare, the UNICC’s RPA team started developing Mia and Max in October 2020.

We at UNICC are proud to help launch Mia and Max, and do our little bit to support the life-saving work of PAHO.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

The joint team is now exploring which other repetitive functions within the Procurement and Supply Management unit in PAHO could be automated, and hope to add more digital workers that will allow their human team mates to increase their efficiency and productivity.

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