A shared services center (SSC) is a key element in the process of digitizing the company. It is an operating model in which different functions that were previously located in different business units are centralized. With this type of shared services, a diverse set of systems and functions is standardized to avoid duplication, which reduces costs and achieves an efficiency that could hardly be achieved by working independently.
Thus, each business unit can focus on the objectives of the company while a specialized entity performs repetitive tasks of high volume and little strategic value.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
This is a system that is integrated into the operation of the company to automatically emulate high-volume repetitive tasks based on established rules. It reduces costs and workloads in administrative and back office activities in general. While RPA is responsible for routine actions, employees can focus on activities of strategic value to the organization.
According to Deloitte, a RPA can reduce from 15% up to 90% of the costs in processes depending on the functions defined for automation. One of its biggest advantages is that to implement it, it is not necessary to invest in infrastructure or new platforms; it is integrated into systems, workflows and existing applications.
How is RPA integrated to a SSC?
Since the processes in the shared services centers are often repetitive and rule-based, they become ideal candidates for robotic automation.
Almost half of back office tasks are suitable for automation (accounts receivable, payroll, accounting, cash management, management and legal reports to be delivered to regulatory agencies, among others).
How to evaluate if a process can be automated?
- If several independent systems are used to complete a task (e.g. registering distributors, customers and employees, where finance and accounting, sales and new accounts, and HR systems processes and systems are involved).
- It is a high volume process and consumes a lot of resources (e.g. supply chain process)
- Generates a high impact due to human errors (e.g. processes where financial losses are involved, entering and analyzing business operations related data, perform calculations).
- Highly predictable with low margin of exceptions (e.g. accounts payable, where repetitive activities like capturing and paying of invoices can be automated).
- Has a heavy manual workload (e.g. data collection, order processing, CRM updates).
Human errors in entering sales orders data causes delays in the collection of invoices and therefore, an increase in the overdue portfolio. With RPA these errors are considerably reduced.
Application for accounts payable and accounts receivable
Customer credit management is usually handled from a SSC and can be automated due to its transactional nature. It is possible to identify changes in payment behavior and stop delivery, perform customer segmentation, as well as automate credit processes, collections and claims.
Supply chain processes
Automation can be used in the capture of orders, which increases its speed by 75% and decreases mistakes. By automating processes in the warehouse, an optimal control of inventories is maintained.
Impact of process automation in SSC
To integrate RPA in a shared services center, the change must be well planned. Let’s take into account that digital transformation goes beyond the use of technologies that streamline work and adapt to market demands; it must be driven from their business culture, but it is here, according to Gartner, that the fear of change arises.
The deep-rooted culture of silos and hierarchies is one of the main barriers to transformation. The implementation of robots by itself cannot achieve all the benefits in terms of streamlining processes.
It is necessary to foster a culture of collaboration within the SSC team, which will continue during the process in activities such as supervision, validation of results or solution of exceptional problems, and should be reassigned to carry out tasks of greater added value.
To achieve this, employees require support and training to be able to adapt to these changes and understand the advantages that technological tools such as RPA bring to them and the organization.
Advantages of RPA in shared service centers
In addition to cost reduction, robotic automation in shared services centers brings other benefits to the company, such as:
- Innovation and service excellence.
- Scalability according to workloads
- Times optimization
- Results accuracy
- Automated data capture
- Employee satisfaction when performing tasks that allow them to develop their true potential
The digitalization of the company is changing the internal processes in order to optimize resources and improve interactions with customers. Lagash helps companies develop a comprehensive plan specific to their needs, so that they obtain the greatest benefit in the integration of the shared services center and RPA.