Managing shared services operations and making it cost-efficient is a challenging task for any medium to large enterprise. Shared Services Center (SSC) or Global Business Services (GBS) is an important internal function that takes on high-volumes of business processes, administrative and back-end operations typically done by multiple departments and executes them under a centralized roof to deliver enterprise-wide benefits. SSC may include functions from Human Resources, Operations, Finance, IT Services, Legal and Document Management of an organization and thus is a highly repetitive process with heavy transactions and people intensive. Traditional shared services models are hyper-focused on cost optimization, however many companies are changing their priorities and looking at SSCs with the lens of growth opportunities.

Shared Services Centers are looking to break away from the perception of being a pure cost-cutting, transaction-oriented system to truly make a strategic contribution in terms of enterprise performance by improving process control, standardization and optimization. To move up the ladder in the value chain and enable businesses with agile services, SSCs are looking to adopt automation. Their operations are rule-based and logical processes that make them ideal candidates for RPA implementation.

Why is automation important for shared services?

RPA delivers substantial value to any organization in terms of productivity, cost and quality; however, the real value of RPA lies in intelligent automation. With the combination of cognitive technologies like AI, predictive analytics and ML, RPA can make a big impact by not just managing back-office processing but also generating higher level insights into operations.

According to a report by The Shared Services and Outsourcing Network 2020, almost 90% of SSC organizations have either implemented or in the process of implementing intelligent automation. By adopting RPA, these organizations aim to deliver greater efficiency and quality to their operations.

When an enterprise aligns its RPA CoE within an SSC with the IT team, they enable them to become a power center that has the ability to drive enterprise-wide digital transformation strategies. By leveraging robotics capabilities along with intelligent and cognitive solutions, organizations empower SSCs to stay agile, improve visibility and control, drive data analysis and operational excellence.

Benefits of intelligent automation in shared services:

Increased productivity: Once set up, RPA deliver results immediately as mundane manual processes are replaced by high performing bots. Tasks like emailing updates, filling out forms and sourcing information that may take up entire working hours of employees can be done within a matter of minutes. Research suggests that RPA eliminates nearly 20% of non-value-added tasks. RPA bots operate at high accuracy levels making the entire process error-free, efficient and reliable.

Enabling talent: As labor-intensive tasks are automated, employees are free to manage more complex exceptions. They can be directed to focus on value-added activities that bring greater returns to the organization. They can take up more responsibilities like vendor management, data analysis or interacting more with customers to enhance relationship and loyalty. With intelligent automation, customers too can make use of self-service portal to get the information they need themselves.

Greater compliance & cost savings: With the right strategies, processes are mapped out and approved for successful automation. So, when that is done, enterprises need not worry about compliance as RPA does automation to the T. By ensuring compliance businesses consistently deliver quality as all industry standards and procedures are followed. With RPA enterprises see visible gains as operational costs are cut by nearly 30%. Bots can operate 24/7, never get tired resulting in greater ROI.

Improved visibility: By automating a centralized function like shared services center, enterprises can see unprecedented levels of visibility. With end-to-end automation, a process’s entire lifecycle is handled from a central location. With dashboards and real-time analytics, the management has a clear view of all operations and processes to spot and rectify any bottlenecks.

Scalable solution: The biggest benefit of RPA is that the technology can be overlaid on existing systems. This enables the platform to be compatible with ongoing developments in sophisticated algorithms and machine learning tools. Intelligent automation also allows for instant ramp up and down to match the demand, thus increasing the scalability capabilities of SSCs. It also significantly reduces the hassle to train and manage new staff. With improved operational agility, enterprises can propel their speed to market and respond faster to market dynamics.

Subashini Suresh