RPA at Shared Services: What to Automate?
While automation brings efficiency and cost savings across the entire organization, the shared services center (SSC) is in the best position to achieve the maximum benefits from automation. It is by design. A shared services center is an internal service provider for large organizations consolidating back-end operations across multiple regions and functions. When an organization launches a shared services center, it ultimately pursues the same goals for process automation: increased process efficiency, cost reduction, standardization, improved control, and process excellence.
Automation by design
Shared services and automation are two sides of the coin. They create value together. If you have already leveraged the shared services structure, automation will take it to the next level. If you are building your shared services center, design it with intelligent automation (IA) in mind.
Take for example how the Automation Anywhere customer Tricor Group built its shared services center integrating RPA into its operations from the very beginning. That helped Tricor to thrive through the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to provide reliable service to its customers.
What to automate?
That is a critical question when you start or scale automation. For shared services organizations, the answer is simple: You can automate almost everything. Here is the data from the last year’s survey Automation Anywhere conducted with Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON).
As you see, organizations successfully automate across various functions. The real question is, which processes do you automate within those functions? The rule of thumb is that if you can move this process or an individual task to your shared services center, you will most likely automate it. That’s because the criteria you use for shared services and outsourcing are similar to the ones for selecting processes for automation: clearly defined, highly repetitive, often a large-scale operation that doesn’t require special knowledge or expert judgment.
As an example, the most popular finance and accounting (F&A) process that is moved to a SSC is accounts payable (AP). AP is a part of the larger P2P (procure-to-pay) process when the company receives and pays an invoice.
Some of the steps in the AP process, such as receiving the invoice, checking the PO match, paying, and reporting, could be outsourced since they are straightforward. On the other hand, the last step—resolve a mismatch—may require alarming escalation and decision-making.
The same steps of the AP process could be automated with RPA and intelligent document processing solutions. An RPA bot can easily collect invoices from various sources: email attachments, scanner hot folders, document portals. Intelligent document processing solutions can extract data from the invoice and convert it into a structured form.
At the same time, other RPA bots can use this data to validate and submit the payment. The same processes suitable for shared services and outsourcing are often good for automation. To learn more about what can be automated within your functional area, review the Automation Anywhere solutions pages.
For increased process efficiency, cost reduction, standardization, improved control, and process excellence, automation is the way to go.