months implementation time
cut in yearly operational costs
savings per year
Sherpa develops products that empower travel service providers to offer visas and documentation as an ancillary service, solving a customer pain point and generating revenue at the same time.
Sherpa’s solutions inform customers of travel visa requirements and guide them through the whole process, from trip planning to booking and check-in, so they have the correct documents required to travel, saving time and reducing stress.
As one of the most important success metrics for Sherpa is application approval rates by governments, effective identity document processing was key. The company needed to ensure that the documents uploaded by travelers were correct and high-quality enough to be submitted to the immigration authorities while keeping the process quick and easy.
An additional challenge was the headshots required for applications. Users were submitting photos of varying quality, making it difficult for the team to build automation and creating extra work for Sherpa’s support team, which had to re-request photos.
When Sherpa started to research the market, it faced an unexpected roadblock: most solutions were mobile-only. Their ideal identity verification solution provider had to be able to work across different platforms, including browser-based apps. That’s when Regula Document Reader SDK stepped in.
Regula helped Sherpa automatically verify travel documentation, such as passports and national IDs, as well as travelers’ headshots.
The whole implementation project took two months. The overall process was divided into five steps:
1. Proof of concept
At this step, Sherpa’s team validated the feasibility of the solution and ran numerous tests using their test data and common use cases based on their experience.
2. Development and integration
Then they developed the overall solution and integrated the new API into their system.
The team performed a controlled rollout over a few weeks to compare data with and without the new API integration, which then went into a full launch.
Based on several weeks of data, Sherpa integrated an approval gate for manual reviews by their operations team. They set thresholds and various additional factors that allowed them to trust the quality and correctness of customer data.
5. Expansion to pre-fill passport details
Once the team was satisfied with how documents were being submitted, they further expanded the capabilities of Regula integration to leverage its identity data reading capabilities. This allowed them to pre-fill passport details after a successful document upload. It boosted UX, while travelers still remain in control of data verification and can edit their details if necessary.
The final Sherpa document processing solution is an API layer in front of the Regula Document Reader SDK Web API, which runs as a managed service in Google Cloud (Cloud Run) and is integrated into Sherpa’s dedicated API Gateway as a microservice.
The Regula-based microservice covers all the aspects of data entry automation, identity documents verification for Sherpa. API is now used during the travelers’ application process to analyze the uploads and provide feedback about the quality and eligibility of the documents for applying for a travel visa.
The new solution provides feedback to users. This means that they are much more likely to upload the correct documents at the first attempt. Now, orders are fulfilled quicker, travelers don’t get frustrated by being asked to provide documents again, and customer service doesn’t have to follow up with travelers asking for new documents.
Thanks to the increased automation success rate, Sherpa was able to reduce operational costs by approximately 15% per year. This allowed them to scale volume without hiring additional staff. This also freed up the operations team to focus on the bigger picture and more strategic items, such as streamlining other bottlenecks.
Regula has been a critical part of the Sherpa product since it was integrated. It allowed the team to see the value quickly and scale up their fulfillment volume without incurring additional costs.
The team admits that without Regula, their development teams would be focused on solving this problem instead of adding new features and offering new visas that make traveler’s lives easier. This wouldn’t have been ideal for many reasons, so they’re glad they managed to avoid this path.
Without Regula, we’d likely have to grow our team size in order to keep up with scaling volume while building an in-house solution. This would create a large amount of overhead in addition to being expensive and error-prone. The cost savings by not having to go this route can be looked at as a larger team with 2-3 people needed to manage them, available 7 days a week. This easily pushes into low- to mid-six figures of additional costs.