Figure shows this technology was imperfect and its

Figure 1: Types of business processes in
which RPA can be used

Source : A 2016 study conducted by Capgemini
Consulting and Capgemini Business Services

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Work
areas in shared services are generally loaded with repetitive and
time-consuming processes. With RPA, the staffs performing high volume, highly
transactional processes can immediately enjoy the benefits of RPA as it can
significantly improve accuracy and quality for a business’ processes by
eliminating human error associated with these voluminous, repetitive tasks.

 

The
experts from ACCA view on finance’s transformation, shared services and outsourcing advisory
group that despite billions of dollars spent on ERP systems (one of the existing
automation tools), finance delivery still needs manual intervention to complete a
process or a transaction. This shows this
technology was imperfect and its processing wasn’t robust. Since organizations
didn’t embed automation into their ways of working, they usually relied on a
subject matter expert (SME) to operate, which exposed the risk. As concluded by
Prof.
Willcocks and Prof. Lacity, what sets
RPA apart from other automation tools are these 3 key features:

 

1.      RPA is easy to configure, so developers don’t need
programming skills. Even without programming
experience, business operations staffs and SMEs can be trained to independently
automate processes within a few weeks. This differentiates RPA from BPM
solutions because BPM requires programming skills.

 

2.      RPA software is non-invasive. RPA sits
alongside existing IT infrastructure. It does not require a heavy IT investment
or additional infrastructure, in fact, it can even be desktop based.

 

3.      RPA is
enterprise-safe. RPA is able
to be distinguished from earlier generations of scripting and screen scraping
which users locally deploy from their desktops as RPA is a robust platform that
is designed to meet enterprise IT requirements for security, scalability,
auditability, and change management.

 

1.      Overview of
Shared Services

 

According to Module A:
Certificate in Global Business Services of ACCA, Shared Services Organization
(SSO) is a captive organization (i.e. internal to the company), usually
structured on a functional basis e.g. Finance and Accounting (F), Human
Resources (HR), Information Technology (IT). It may consist of multiple
locations, with work traditionally located based on time zone and language
requirements and availability.

 

Typically, this is the
first step that companies take as it can provide significant benefits, while
ensuring the process remains under the full control of the organization. While
usually beginning with non-core activities, internal shared services will often
transform into providers of higher-value, more business critical processes.

 

Shared services are
supposed to deliver services that are low cost, but cost efficiency must be
balanced with other performance requirements such as service excellence,
business enablement, scalability, flexibility, security, and compliance.

 

Paul Jeruchimowitz and David Axson of Accenture stated the
same shared services industry that has been steadily evolving for the past 25
years, where its big win has always been cost reduction has now become
irrelevant. Thus, shared services are now heading towards extinction. Today’s shared services customers; both internal such
as business users, employees and suppliers as well as external customers expect
“consumerization” on the services that are oriented around them. They want
simplified, seamless experiences, much like the experiences they routinely
receive through digital channels at home; friction-free interactions, intuitive
applications and consolidated information. This “customerization” happens in 3
key ways: 1. focusing on customer outcomes 2. Measuring success in terms of
those outcomes 3. And delivering innovative new service capabilities that
customers value.

 

Prof. Mary Lacity and
Prof. Leslie Willcocks further summarized the trends in Shared Services during
the last five years and they are (1) global business services (2) public sector
adoption, (3) focus on business outcomes and (4) digital transformation,
including Robotic Process Automation. All this while, they found out in
practice, shared services organizations have been slow to move into adopting
RPA but with the latest current trend, this is changing.

 

In short, to avoid the
risk of irrelevance and ensuring “customerization” is achieved, shared services
organizations need to develop or adopt an advanced, innovative models such as
RPA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below
figures illustrate the increasingly important role that robotics plays in
companies’ process improvement and to stay relevant:

 

Source: Survey findings conducted by the Capgemini Consulting
and Capgemini Business Services