Shared Services Organizations (SSOs) are expected to deliver process efficiency and business support, and save money while doing so. Many of the business functions and back office operations that SSOs traditionally provide, such as F&A, HR services, IT, procurement and supply chain, are comprised of numerous, rules-based tasks that employees find repetitive and burdensome. These tasks are ideal for robotic process automation (RPA).
Much like enterprises and outsourcers that have implemented RPA, SSOs stand to enjoy the same benefits that RPA has to offer, including: per ‘headcount’ costs at a fraction of a traditional workforce, dramatic process improvement, near zero error rates, redeployment of resources to higher value functions, adherence to policies and regulations, improved service speed and quality. Given the cost, productivity and efficiency benefits of RPA it’s easy to see why RPA has caught the attention of shared services professionals.
In 2015, the CEB Shared Services Leadership Council surveyed its network of shared services professionals on the topic of RPA on two occasions, first in April and again in November. In just six months they witnessed a significant change, with almost double the number of shared services executives reporting that they were evaluating RPA (from 17.91% to 33.33%) and a rise in SSOs that were in the process of implementing RPA (from 4.48% to 7.41%).
More Than Meets the Eye
As the RPA market matures, more and more use cases for RPA are coming out of the woodwork, beyond the obvious elimination of manual processes and cost savings. We are seeing more sophisticated and powerful RPA solutions that blend technologies to offer a wider range of automation solutions and cover more automation processes.
For example, the Leo platform, can be used to deliver 'assisted automation,' such as application guidance and desktop automation to your human workforce. With 'assisted automation,' human workers can trigger automation processes from their desktop, at the time of need. Capable of supporting both front office and back office processes, these solutions provide a greater ROI on your RPA investment and deliver corporate-wide business process improvement.
As you build your shared services RPA strategy, ensure your business case goes beyond FTE reduction savings. Keep in mind that RPA implementations are flexible enough to solve many business use cases and that the solution you choose may also serve multiple purposes, with far-reaching impact and business benefits for the entire organization.