Automate Financial Reporting with IBM RPA: Salient Process x Primanti Brothers

Automate Financial Reporting with IBM RPA: Salient Process x Primanti Brothers

Published By : Cydney McCollum May 13, 2022

 Automate Financial Reporting with IBM RPA: Salient Process x Primanti Brothers


 Dating back to 1933, the iconic “Almost Famous” restaurant chain Primanti Brothers was created in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For the last 89 years, the company has grown exponentially as they now have 38 locations across the US, plus 1 in each stadium in Pittsburgh. The beloved restaurant has been no stranger to the evolving times as they realized their back-of-house operations needed some efficiency improvements and they needed it fast. In this episode, you will hear from Caitlin Stritmatter, Director of Financial Planning & Analysis at Primanti Bros about their experience improving their manual reporting processes with IBM RPA.

Download the Primanti Brothers Case Study here!

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The Primanti Brothers’ story

Founded in 1933, Primanti Bros draws loyalty, especially from Pittsburgh. 

The ideal Primanti Bros sandwich: Bread, Meat, Cheese, Tomato, Coleslaw, AND fries all in one. 

This sandwich appealed to the steelworkers back in the day who didn’t have much time for lunch and if they were working odd hours, this is the most efficient lunch for them that they could grab and go.

  • Pre-Covid Era
    • Covid-19 hit the restaurant industry hard. This required most restaurants to scale down on staff while trying to keep things moving and be as efficient as possible to stay in business.
    • During this time labor shortages were still an issue, supply chain shortages were happening more often, and data became more important than ever before
      • Ex: Real-time reporting data, sales reporting data, cost reporting, Scheduling, etc.
    • Unfortunately, to have this data, sacrifices had to be made. Restaurant managers absorbed more busy work, regional managers absorbed work that the restaurant managers couldn’t do anymore, and they were resorting and reprioritizing our responsibilities. Something had to give!
  • Goals for a new, more efficient system
    • Data needed to be easily accessible, quick, and accurate
    • How to bring responsibilities back to the home offices but still keep it visible for the restaurant on an everyday basis
    • Become more scalable
    • Improve customer and employee experience.

Primanti Brothers 1933


The Digital Business Automation Journey

“You only have so much time every day before you start running the restaurant. You can get so bogged down in the process of copying, pasting, filling out, and double-checking a spreadsheet, when you should be focused on actually looking at the numbers and what they’re saying,… So, we wanted to take the busy work out of the process to free up time for thought and planning.” 

Caitlin Stritmatter

Director of Financial Planning & Analysis, Primanti Brothers

Before RPA bot:
  • Every morning, 365 days a year, these Regional Managers go into each of the 5 restaurants to look at the sales of the previous day using the online tool, point of sales solution. 
    • Their morning process:
      • Step 1. Run a sales report for each location
      • Step 2. Key it into a spreadsheet
      • Step 3. Run labor report for each location
      • Step 4. Key it into a spreadsheet
      • Step 5-10. Using the information, get the week trends, what’s upcoming for the day, forecast sales for day/week/month, get everything they know about the restaurant, forecast labor, get a snapshot, etc.
      • Step 11. Inform restaurant managers prior to the opening of possible adjustments to be made for the day
  • This process took at the very least 45 minutes per person to generate around 40 reports all before 10 AM (including weekends and holidays) so they could make possible adjustments before opening for the day. There are 8 Regional Managers that have on average 5 restaurants. 

Original Location in Pittsburgh, PA


After RPA bot:
  • Their new morning process:
    • The manager is able to login to the SharePoint site, the spreadsheet is already filled out by 7 am, and all of the prior days’ data is already there
      • No longer have to spend time filling in data
      • Regional managers can jump straight to making decisions on today, tomorrow, etc., and suggestions to each restaurant manager
      • Relief from employees
  •  Accuracy:
    • No longer potential for misinformation due to manual data input
  • Benefits:
    • Manual hours:
      • Maximum of 45 minutes per morning per manager
      • 6 hours of labor across all 8 managers being repurposed to higher-value tasks
        • ~2,100 hours per year
      • ~$84,000 of payroll being repurposed per year to higher-value tasks
    • Primanti Bros. achieved 100% ROI in 3 Months

  •  Customer experience: improved from the extra hour’s managers can now dedicate to the restaurant
  •  Employee experience: improved from the removal of mundane tasks


Prioritization: What can I automate next?

After Primantis Initial Win:

  • Many were curious about what else Primanti Bros could automate
  • . This opened up the possibility to all internal departments (Payroll, HR, IT, Development, AP, Operations, etc.)
  • They received tons of requests from employees for tasks (ex: reports) that could be automated
  • Lastly, the RPA bot paid for future software already with the initial use case

How to determine what should be automated next

  • How much time is spent on a task
  • How often does this task occur
  • Where do the reports go
  • What decisions are made based on the reports
  • Determine ROI on how much it will cost to automate
  • Determine ROI on how much time it will save
  • Team burnout from mundane tasks
    • Ex: Automating a task may not have a financial return but it will keep employee retention high

Primanti’s 3 Month Plan: 

  • Look at the mapping results, figure out which reports have the biggest ROI and which reports would be most impactful on an individual’s day-to-day workload
  • Move on to the next phase of mapping and expanding some of the reports into other departments
  • Adding in more that will be a direct impact on the operations team and the restaurants
  • Start the cycle over again
    • What are the processes?
    • How long are they taking?
    • What process improvements can we find along the way?
  • Figure out how to allocate the money to spend

Primanti’s 1 Year Plan 

  • Get to a point where there are so many reports being automated
  • Sort where to store reports
    • Create a dashboard
  • Ensure automation is updated and management
  • Get someone on staff whose sole responsibility is the report management and automation
    • Aka, a Business Architect
    • Figure out where efficiencies could be found and where process improvements could be made
Jobs in Digital Business Automation

“I would love to have a person here on staff whose sole responsibility is the report management and automation.”-Caitlin Stritmatter

More Job opportunities arise when your employees have more bandwidth to perform at a more efficient rate instead of sending 8 hours a day doing mundane tasks. 

  • New jobs are being created specifically for Digital Business Automation in companies
    • Director of Intelligent Automation
    • Chief Automation Officer
    • Process Analysts
    • Operational Excellence Analyst
      • Others involved
        • Data Scientists
        • User Experience Designer
        • Business Architect
Experience, Insights, and Guidance from Caitlin 


The biggest surprise during this experience to Strittmatter was watching the Bot work.

” It was pretty shocking during the process of the build phases there’s just a recording of me going through the process. it recorded me logging into the website,  what report you’re selecting, etc. You pick your parameters and talk through exactly what I was doing and how I was making those selections and then the follow-up meeting to that was where I watched the bot do it all. What would take me 20-25 minutes from start to finish was done in less than a minute with the bot. It was like watching someone work and control the mouse.”

One word to describe the Digital Business Automation experience?


“It’s been a huge relief for me with all these data-hungry coworkers and operations that we have a solution we can get you what you need and want.”

Guidance or advice to the next director of FP&A or a Director of Intelligent Automation

“Automate Everything.”

“The less busywork that you can do, the better off everyone is, and the happier you’ll be. The more effective you’ll be at your job when you don’t have to waste time doing something that can be automated.”


Salient Process helped save Primanti Brothers 2,000 hours of manual work with IBM RPA. Jimmy Hewitt, Senior Automation Advisor at Salient Process, says: “I really like two things about this specific automation technology. First is that because it takes the bot no time at all to do work that took humans 2,000 hours per year to do, it quite literally gives you the gift of time. They say you can’t buy time. I say, yes you can! Second is how low the barrier to entry is for this capability.”



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