The Opportunities of Automation

Managing Complexity in Finance

Managing Complexity Event

5 key takeaways


The author of this articleChristophe Dams - Expert Manager - CFO Services
'Remember the human margin of error is set at 5-10% for repetitive tasks,' says CFO Services expert manager Christophe Dams, 'while automation is capable to deliver 100% process accuracy.' Did you miss our Managing Complexity event in Brussels? Here are a few key takeaways.

Thursday February 28th, 2019, TriFinance co-hosted an event on how to manage complexity in Finance at Hotel Metropole in Brussels. TriFinance experts Jean-Marie Bequevort and Christophe Dams and co-hosts Marko Manula (Aico) and Richard Moreton (Square Marble Techologies) elaborated on the main drivers of complexity in organizations, zooming in on the technology that is available to better cope with these challenges. A vivid discussion was held on the automation topic and its position within finance and the broader context of the organization. Christophe Dams reports.

Managing Complexity Event in Brussels

1. Automation is amongst us

53% of the people in the audience indicated they have already automated several tasks within their organization. Despite some reluctance on automation, 18% is only thinking about it. Companies do believe it is worthwhile to have the experience and expertise of automation.

2. We believe in quality

The ultimate benefit of automation is an increase in data quality and deliverables according to 76% of the participants. Only a minority of 6% indicated the main achievement will be a reduction in workforce and overall costs. In view of the exponential increase in data volumes year-on-year, automation will enable us to maintain and even increase the overall quality.

3. It’s time to deliver

Although task or process automation is highly dependent on the underlying complexity, 69% of the people believe automating one task or process will take more than 10 days on average. It slightly contradicts our experience where an average task can be automated in 5-10 days. Of course, the average doesn’t fit the exception.

4. To automate or to robotize, what to choose?

94% of the audience stated they strongly believe in a combination of both. As indicated in studies, pure robotics will only cover 10-30% of the potential, leaving much scope for desktop automation. Most organizations will, therefore, make use of specific automation software which can be managed by robots increasing the speed of delivery and at the same time lowering the development costs.

5. A controlled experiment on a visible bottleneck or pain point

Most companies have started the automation journey by opening discussions with C-Level, having partners coming over for demo’s and talking about business cases to support the need for automation. There is no single way to build a solid case, but we as TriFinance have a strong believe it all starts with the concept of “in order to know, you need to measure”:

  • Screen and select a processcriteria-based: Processes must be stable, mature, optimized, rules-based, repetitive, and usually high-volume. Process optimization is by far the most important pre-condition as bottlenecks, inefficiencies and complexity are inherently time-consuming and prone for error.
  • Analyze and zoom-in, using process and data mining: An initial analysis is required to assess the Readiness for Process Automation (RPA). By performing a quick scan, management can conceptualize the requirements and potential to automate the process. It will strongly reduce the risk of automation that eventually proves to be infeasible, therefore resulting in high developing and running costs.
  • Build a business case based on the findings: Using the insights from the quick scan, there will be a reliable mapping of returns and investments to present to higher management. Both qualitative and quantitative measurements are important. Remember that the human margin of error is set at 5-10% for repetitive tasks and automation is capable to deliver 100% process accuracy, improves data, process quality, compliance and employee’s job satisfaction.
  • GO/NO GO for the proof of concept (POC): Once the business case is evaluated and considered positive, a POC can be launched. In most cases, master data management, recurring manual journal entries or data collection and/or transformation are in the scope of such POC’s. They are most often used as case studies or promotor cases within the organization.
  • Combine work shadowing and process improvement to log the process: The automation starts by designing the as-is or to-be process on the fragmented task-level. Whilst a surgical dissection of the process is performed (each click, piece of info or decision is listed), process improvements are considered inherent to this phase to design a solid, effective and efficient end-to-end process to the maximal extend.
  • Enforce proper governance, risk, and compliance during automation: Following the organizational rules and ensuring qualitative data and output are considered cornerstones of automation. Incorporating checks and balances in the automated process ensures all rules and guidances are properly respected.
  • Design, develop and deploy the automation software: A team of automation experts, the scriptwriters, will develop the automation program or robot in cooperation with the business analyst. After extensive testing and validation, the process can go live.
  • Monitoring and continuous improvement of the automated process: Either on the spot (attended) or remote (unattended) monitoring must be in place governing the automated process. All automation software and robots will encounter execution failures and will, therefore, need to be resolved. The root cause can be of the technical origin or changes in systems, processes or input/data. Having the right experts on board will be essential.

TriFinance’s CFO Services has a wide variety of professional experts in different domains on board. We have solid process expertise to perform a quick scan and assess your readiness for Process Automation. Consecutively we assist you in identifying and performing the required process improvements from an end-to-end perspective preceding your process automation. We independently liaise with professional partners and assist our clients in choosing to best-fit software solutions on a case-by-case level. If you are interested in our services, offerings or an on-site demo of AICO and/or MIA, please contact Jean-Marie Bequevort.

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The author of this articleChristophe Dams - Expert Manager - CFO Services

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