This article belongs to our SSC blog series, in previous articles we focused on current trends of Shared Service Centers in terms of process excellence and value-added service portfolio as well as the next maturity level of Digital Shared Service Centers: Virtual Delivery Centers. Now we will focus on RPA potential for Shared Service Centers which are operating in financial services.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a set of technologies that uses software as a ‘virtual FTE’ to “manipulate” existing application software in the same way that a person completes a process. RPA has established itself as a valuable process tool across all industries.
Not every process bears RPA potential. Typically, we are looking for processes that follow a strict set of rules, allow for little to no exceptions, are highly manual and are carried out multiple times a day or with high seasonal peaks. Structured, machine-readable input is obviously a must have requirement. Processes that are allocated to SSCs often meet most if not all of these RPA requirements, which makes a SSC the perfect place to start implementing RPA tools. Obvious frontrunners are Finance and HR, as the potential is only limited by the amount of processes you are willing to let your SSC handle.
RPA tools are compatible with all kinds of SSCs, be it on-shore, captive or outsourced completely. Capgemini has experience with RPA in SSCs across the board. Figure 1 illustrates potential benefits of employing RPA including cost reductions, an increase in process speed, quality improvement and an increase in compliance and risk mitigation.
Figure 1: potential benefits of RPA within a SSC
SSCs are about costs and efficiency, as is RPA. An average “RPA FTE” costs about 1/3 of an “SSC / BPO FTE”, works 24/7 and under the same conditions the same data will always produce the same result. Figure 2 shows an exemplary project business case where 5 Robots are generating a substantial amount of savings:
Figure 2: Exemplary business case using 5 Robots
Seeing is believing and in RPA this is especially true. Nothing is as impressive as seeing a robot run through one of your actual processes and we have a track record of producing a viable result within days of starting a Proof of Concept or pilot project. Until then we would like to introduce you to two SSC RPA use cases. The first one deals with an AP invoice investigation, while the second one depicts a cost calculation case.
Figure 3: Investigate AP Invoices
This process of AP invoicing starts with an information request about an invoice and the following review of this request. RPA tools improved the speed and efficiency of the invoice search and allocation as well as its validation and the update of the payment status. Process quality and employee satisfaction have also increased due to the tedious and error prone parts of the process being handled by the virtual workforce. This freed up employees to focus on customer interaction and service.
Like a human the robot is able to log into and work in any IT system across your IT landscape. This allows the robot to assume the different roles necessary to complete multiple processes.
Figure 4: Cost Calculation Case
This process of calculating standard cost and transfer prices for finished goods for nine different company codes used to take four FTEs a total amount of between 36 and 45 hours, measured in a well-established Shared Service Center. Our RPA solution is executing it in 9 hours, using a single robot. Looking at the chart, it becomes clear that the robot still works along the same path as a human would, only it clicks and calculates faster than humanly possible. While the times for downloads and information gathering have been improved only slightly, times for price calculation and allocation have been vastly improved. The robot even uploads the reports back to SAP without them needing to be reviewed beforehand. Once a robot has been trained to execute this process it cannot deviate from it, meaning that the same input will always yield the same result, making it compliant in every way.
We are happy to provide any further information on RPA for Shared Services and discuss with you how to improve the digital maturity of your organization and processes.
Find out more about this topic – further interesting articles:
- Center of Excellence & Operating Models: Why RPA is more than just a software
- Value for money with RPA. Lessons learned from RPA audits.
- RPA Potential for HR Shared Service Center
- Current Trends in Shared Services
- Next Level Shared Services: Virtual Delivery Center
This article was written by Philipp Obach.