The case for robotics
As an organisation that is constantly looking for opportunities to improve its processes, Capgemini understands the speed at which robotic automation can transform a business. However, it also understands that a lack of proper preparation before introducing robotics can lead to a start-and-stop implementation.
With this in mind, the Capgemini Group identified an opportunity to automate the invoicing process of its Finance function in order to handle increased demand without compromising its stringent requirements for accuracy. As such, robotic process automation (RPA) offered an ideal solution.
The challenge of enhancing operational efficiency
Capgemini’s Business Services Finance & Accounting (CBS FA) is a shared services team that provides a range of administrative services to the Group’s Finance function, including the processing of over 8,500 invoices manually every month.
Invoice processing is a critical step for the realisation of revenue and acts as upstream input for Capgemini’s entire order-to-cash (O2C) cycle, which is managed end-to-end by CBS FA’s dedicated team of project accountants via the Oracle R12 Project Accounting platform.
The team was facing a range of operational challenges, including dealing with multiple processes and formats, ensuring the absolute accuracy of invoice data for a large volume of requests, comprehensive management of exceptions and fallouts within short timelines, and coordination of the entire process cycle with multiple stakeholders.
In order to continue delivering seamless billing and revenue flow to the Group’s projects, the CBS FA team needed to increase efficiency through analysing existing processes and eliminating non-value added process steps. This maximised client revenue and provided best-in-class utilisation of the Group’s existing technology platform, application hub tools, and robotic methodology.
In addition, Capgemini’s Group Finance had extremely high expectations of its internal CBS FA team, including:
- An increase in measureable productivity benefits
- Enhanced maturity and competitiveness, with the expectation of realising €1.3 million in savings
- Reduced manual interventions in the process, while maintaining overall accuracy of the output
- Significant increase in “transaction per FTE” with 100% compliance on quality.
All of this supported the goals of non-intrusive automation, seamless service delivery with the capacity for expansion, and the absorption of increased volume within the CBS FA team’s existing bandwidth.
Capgemini’s ESOAR methodology provides the foundation for RPA
As a first step, CBS FA consulted project accountants directly involved in the invoicing process on the opportunities of RPA. This provided valuable information about how the team viewed RPA adoption as a means to move to higher-value functions. It also gave a detailed view of the challenges the project would need to address from an employee’s perspective while further outlining the project requirements and objectives.
Based on this information, the CBS FA team developed and implemented the unique ESOAR (Eliminate, Standardise, Optimise, Automate and Robotise) methodology to holistically assess the needs of the Capgemini Group’s clients, agents, and managers at various steps of the invoice process in detail. This included eliminating multiple input formats from requestors, reducing manual handoffs, standardising input and output requirements, optimising the usage of the Oracle R12 for printing invoices and implementing robotics to automate repetitive tasks.
CBS FA deployed UiPath’s industry-standard RPA product, part of Automation Drive, Capgemini’s unified approach on automation, which applies virtual robots to emulate and automate the manual activities involved in invoice creation, such as mouse cursor movements, keystrokes, and copy and pasting, and performing simple calculations and text string manipulations. This provided a real-time operating and decision-making environment, with robots constantly reporting their progress to a central server and an intuitive flowchart-style graphical interface enabling the team to design and implement the business processes as workflows. A robust control mechanism was also introduced to increase the accuracy of invoices and enhance client experience and satisfaction.
Results count—increased process efficiency and competitiveness
CBS FA implemented proper controls throughout the project, leading to a smooth and successful rollout of its RPA solution for the Capgemini Group. In addition, the ESOAR methodology provided value addition and productivity gains for Group Finance by enabling the CBS FA team to approach the project with a strong plan that ensured smooth delivery.
The solution assisted in reducing the turnaround time for invoice generation and improved invoice accuracy. There was significant reduction in queries in the downstream process, which led to better cash collection and enabled a reduction of days sales outstanding (DSO) for the Capgemini Group.
Implementation of CBS FA’s RPA solution and ESOAR methodology led to a range of tangible benefits including:
- Increased cost reduction—over €1.5 million saved for the Capgemini Group against a target of €1.3 million
- Enhanced accuracy—91% improvement in accuracy, with a reduced error rate from 45 to 4 errors on a baseline of 8,500 invoice creation requests
- Reduced cycle time—75% reduction of invoice processing from 20 to 4 minutes per request
- Enhanced productivity—reducing the overall cost of finance for the Capgemini Group by 88 resources
- Reduced cost of service—20 FTEs redeployed to higher analytical work such as reconcilliations and cost accruals
- Increased standardisation—standardisation of inputs resulted in fewer queries, exceptions, reworks, and manual handoffs.
Successfully implementing robotics within its own Finance operations is an example of Capgemini’s ability to transform complex manual processes and apply best-in-class automation solutions. This project demonstrates Capgemini’s position as the trusted partner of choice for organisations wanting to transform their Finance function through implementing customised robotics solutions. The project also won the “Gold” category of the prestigious D.L. Shah Quality Award, recognising CBS FA’s efforts in automating the invoicing processes for improved efficiency and service delivery.
The Collaborative Approach
The Collaborative Business ExperienceTM is central to Capgemini’s philosophy and is a pillar of our service delivery
- Enhanced efficiency—collaboration between the onshore team, requestors and the processing team minimised deviations, and reduced to and fro queries, with operators redeployed on audit and exception handling rather than transactional activities
- Improved employee experience—through redeploying 20 FTEs to other value-adding tasks across CBS FA’s business. The overall 88 FTE reduction was compensated by further headcount addition from onshore roles, thereby further reducing the cost of finance
- Continuous improvement—CBS FA’s people continue to generate new ideas on how repetitive, manual tasks can be automated or solved through robotics. This is recognised across the Capgemini Group as a powerful example of data, technology and talent coming together to create value.