“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Bill Gates
We sit at a tipping point. Technology is changing the way companies operate and interact, with their customers and within their own internal operations. CFOs are looking to flip the ratio of transactional work vs. strategic work. They are steering their organizations away from manual work and spreadsheets and are championing the use of progressive automation to increase their people’s amount of time spent being a forward-looking asset to the company.
Technology can improve both the speed and quality of your internal processes throughout the F&A function. This means engaging technology like Robotic Process Automation, which can act as a virtual workforce that can be scaled up or down as required, doesn’t require performance reviews and perhaps more importantly, will never leave to go work for the competition.
RPA has attributes and capabilities that go far beyond those of traditional automation. It’s important to use it fully. It can stitch together disparate systems without requiring direct integration. It can pull and manipulate data between legacy systems, giving companies better transparency and a much better understanding of their operations.
Not an Equilateral Triangle
Traditionally, the “business triangle” has been represented by an equilateral triangle with People, Process and Technology sitting at each side. The trend today is to assume that technology is starting to take up more of that triangle’s real estate. However, technology alone does not solve business problems.
It can be easy to simply view robotics as an accelerant for the as-is processes. While this typically leads to slight improvements (especially in terms of labor costs or data quality), the real value of RPA is the ability to use it to transform business processes. This means casting a critical eye on the process part of the equation to avoid the old adage of “garbage in, garbage out.”
Organizations need to step back and analyze the new capabilities RPA can provide in order to design a future “to-be” state. From Order-to-Cash to Record-to-Report, it is critical to assess each aspect of every process that exists within those functions. Focus on the outcome first and then focus on how your people, processes and technology can support those outcomes.
Standalone Technology? Or a Partnership?
As a standalone product, RPA is an effective way of automating repetitive tasks and manual intervention. But when combined with F&A service delivery from a process transformation partner, RPA has the potential to deliver much greater impact.
At Sutherland we provide advisory services, to help clients identify where they can optimize processes and eliminate existing exceptions. Whether the exception relates to order entry, invoicing or collections, non-standardized practices cause slowdowns, manual labor and errors. An end-to-end perspective is the catalyst for maximizing straight-through processes. From transition to continuous improvement, we take a long-term view to be able to plan and execute on the “future organization.”
If you are looking for a trusted advisor, one that has extensive experience in new service delivery automation technologies, and understands how and where to apply them, contact our F&A and RPA experts for an assessment of your processes.