BPION Partners have been in the accounting and payroll outsourcing industry of a combined 100+ years and nowadays many people believe we will be made redundant by the introduction of robots to perform our tasks. Although there is some truth in that statement we believe that RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is more of an opportunity than a threat for accounting firms with a progressive consulting attitude.
The accounting and payroll practice will not cease to exist, however technology will undoubtedly eradicate the need for many time consuming manual tasks (manual transaction recording, invoicing, data processing, daily administrative tasks etc.). Not only accounting and payroll processes should be re-designed in the future but parallelly outsourced finance functions will change from the mere “doing it external…” to “…and improving it in-house” as well, if an organization is ready and implement RPA tools successfully.
RPA can generate significant values to almost all companies, such as
- cost saving: The implementation cost of an easy-to-use robot is already less than an annual fully loaded cost of a colleague, which can guarantee in-year return of its implementation.
- employee engagement and retention: We believe that accounting practice will not disappear, but certainly will change. The implementation of RPA can not only save the time of your employees on their repetitive tasks, but companies can allocate this valuable resource to more challenging and creative and revenue generating functions. The new generation workforce can be motivated by flexible working conditions and nicely furnished, sun loft offices, but one of the most important retention tool is providing access for them to the newest technology available.
- BPiON provides services to many CEE countries and while in countries like Hungary, customers’ focus is mostly on quality for price, in more advanced countries however the new key differentiator of your services is a model access to tested RPA technologies.
- improved quality: In the absence of the right technology the monitoring of quality and service via SLAs has been complex to maintain, and labour intensive. With RPA technology the automated generation of data will mean the SLA can be assessed and results used to propose further improvements to efficiency and effectiveness, rather than just produce reports.
As many as 45 percent of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting current technologies, says Michael Chui, a principal at the McKinsey Global Institute and co-author of a new report exploring the impact on automation in the workplace. (You can reach the whole article here: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/where-machines-could-replace-humans-and-where-they-cant-yet)
If RPA implementations have numerous advantages and significant cost saving opportunities, is the exercise only to choose the best available technology on the market? We believe not, since buying a vacuum cleaner to replace your broom does not mean you have a cleaner house.
There are multiple aspects of a successful RPA implementation in accounting/financial processes, however its change management elements are the most critical factor in order to achieve the anticipated benefits.
There are 3 significant elements of a successful implementation.
Although “technology” is the last on the list, it has to be the first consideration. In order to implement RPA successfully choosing the right tool is just one element of the exercise. Re-engineering the existing processes and preparing your culture for the change is even more important, since if culture and motivation is right, even the basic of a technology can increase your efficiency. If either of these two are neglected, the best available tool will just create you cost, cultural shock and frustration.
Process – redesign
Processes are never constant. The business needs, the technology involved, the scope, the stakeholders are changing more than ever, therefore process re-design should be part of our everyday life. It may sound risky, however don’t forget that it also creates efficiency and increase employee retention, which is critical in all peoples’ business.
Successful RPA technology implementation demands to have a proper process mapping identifying all the human and automated touches, as it has to be re-designed. On the other hand we should get prepared that during this process mapping it may turn out that RPA is not the right approach for this specific procedure, or several other amends might have to be made within the process itself.
People – Cultural change
Last but definitely not least, implementation of Robotics is not a onetime operation but rather requires a change of mind set and is an ongoing evolving key business function.
All people involved (which is usually the whole company) should understand its objective and complexity and buy in from the whole team is essential.
Communication is definitely one of the key critical factors. Key HR flow of an RPA project is:
- Senior Management’s support
- Dedicate accurate resources
- Identify champions of the processes
- Employee buy in through champions of the process
- Effective training and user support
- Ongoing communication of the Vision, Mission and Objectives as well we successes
Does RPA seem more complex than before? It shouldn’t.
Process improvement is something any good organisation continues to use and evolve. The change emanating from RPA is nothing new to an organisation that recognises and embraces the change. The secret to its success is selection of the right technology and the effective management of the resulting change.