Prioritization of Automation in F&A Shared Services

Jay Raju - 10.16.2019

After months of research, planning and market research a CFO decided to implement the latest and most advanced version of the finance ERP available in the market in their shared services. As per the detailed and well-structured strategy there will be considerable cost savings and synergies visible soon after the initial 6 months. The plan seems to be on target until the implementation issues start popping up. Payments are put on hold, business affected due to low cash flows, delayed month end closures – all issues leading to more time and effort being put in against the initial estimates. Instead of thinking about strategic advancements the CFO is absorbed in managing the daily activities, leaving the company where it was a year or two ago. Sounds familiar?

Moving away from legacy systems to a more advanced financial system may sound like a good decision, but if not done properly can lead to adverse effects. While its always an edge to stay on top of the market with the latest technology, simultaneously ensuring to find solutions to any manual/ archival activity is as important. A change in the system can bring about a small change in the way of working which can eventually lead to a huge business impact, which is not a desirable scenario. This is where robotics or cognitive automation come handy. According to a recent HFS research paper, F&A shared services are currently spending more than 50% of their efforts in merely recording information, rather than reporting, analyzing or strategizing to improve actual business outcomes.

The onset of the social & cloud era has provided a much-needed makeover to the enterprise financial systems market. With advancements in analytics, big data, automation, mobility, and cloud/ Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), innovation in the digitization of the F&A function is moving at a rapid pace with disrupters like Workday and Coupa becoming leaders in the enterprise financial systems market.

While such cloud-based solutions offer excellent solutions for specific workstreams, they only add to the increasing complexity of integrating all our systems while we continue our quest to improve customer experience. By building a thoughtful robotic and cognitive automation deployment strategy, F&A shared services have an opportunity to capitalize on the changing universe of enterprise financial systems while reducing the transaction processing burden.

In our engagement with clients, we have seen that F&A shared services that leverage enhanced visual analytics software like Power BI and desktop automation solutions such as Automation Anywhere and UI Path amongst others, evolve quickly from basic transaction processing centers into powerhouses that help redefine the business enhancing the customer experience as well as reducing waste and risk by improving vendor partner collaboration.

While the impact of these remarkable technological advancements is significant and the adoption rate for robotic and cognitive automation is high in F&A shared services, the satisfaction with automation in F&A is almost half of that for Marketing as per a recent study by HFS Research.

In order to accelerate our business value and maximize resource utilization, we have evolved a robust prioritization methodology for automation projects within our TAPtm methodology. Such a process of identifying and prioritizing automation projects tends to also reduce the break-even on such projects to a mere few months from the traditional model in IT implementations in F&A which tend to have multi-year implementation and break-even periods.

Below is an example of such a prioritized robotic automation heat map.

Heat Map for Automation Prioritization – An Example

Heat Map for F&A Automation
Sounds exciting? It is! We recommend to not take a back seat and see how organizations are adapting to the new technology, rather take the jump and apply RPA/ AI to your processes today. Agree there is a lot of work involved which is why we offer our expertise and professionals to help you make the right decision for your organization.

About the Author: Jay Raju leads Business Development and Solutions at Teleperformance for F&A. He has over 20 years of experience in business transformation services for leading Fortune 100 clients.

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