Case Study: Conduct RPA Opportunity Assessment

Client: Global Industrial Products Firm

Function: Finance Department

Project: Conduct RPA Opportunity Assessment

Overall Project Mission

A global industrial products business wanted to explore the feasibility of implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology to reduce the cost and improve the effectiveness of their global Finance function, starting with their European Finance Shared Service Centre (SSC). The project involved working with global and SSC Finance leadership to deliver a robust RPA opportunity assessment within three weeks.

The Challenge

The opportunity assessment needed to be carried out with limited data and within a short time period but be sufficiently robust to enable Finance leadership to be confident on whether to progress with a business case to implement RPA.

Processes in scope included the more transactional Procure to Pay (PTP) and Order to Cash (OTC) as well as Record to Report (RTR), including Tax, and equated to 90 FTE across around 125 sub-processes.

FTE analysis had previously been carried out by a “Big 4” consultancy but was out of date and used a standard template set of Finance processes which did not accurately represent the SSC organization. Process documentation was limited to key SOX controls and not sufficient for analyzing process suitability for RPA.

The client had some exposure to RPA but had been given unrealistic expectations from some RPA software vendors of how simple and quick this would be to implement and needed impartial advice on the pros and cons of applying RPA to different business processes and effort to implement.

The Project

The project was quickly launched following initial conversations with members of the SSC and Global Finance Leadership team, using an experienced consultant to deliver the opportunity assessment with oversight from a Principal to provide additional experience and benchmarks from previous RPA implementations.

Preparation

A workshop schedule was agreed to give access to SSC Process Leaders and Subject Matter Experts whilst minimizing disruption to their day to day duties and current projects, and all workshop logistics arranged in advance to ensure smooth running of the sessions.

One week in advance, the workshop participants were given an overview of how the workshop would operate and what to expect, and an opportunity to ask any questions.

FTE analysis was refreshed to better reflect the SSC organization and Intellilink standard RPA opportunity assessment templates prepopulated with the SSC data to enable rapid progress during the workshop sessions.

Workshop Delivery

Workshop sessions were held by process area over a compressed two-day schedule, facilitated by an Intellilink consultant and involving Process Leads and key subject matter experts from their teams.

IT Leadership were included to give insight on the SSC systems landscape and any key limitations or considerations for RPA, and to ensure early engagement of IT as an essential stakeholder in any future RPA implementation.

The workshops used the Intellilink RPA opportunity assessment templates to enable structured discussion and fact-finding for each of the 125 sub-processes potentially in scope for RPA, with standard criteria and scoring to enable rapid assessment of:

  • Suitability of individual sub-processes to be automated using Robotic Processing
  • Likely benefits which could be achieved
  • Relative complexity, and therefore cost, to implement
  • Any risks or additional control requirements to be considered for automation
  • Whether sub-processes are stable and ready for automation or need to first complete further changes or standardization

The workshops concluded with a session to summarize the key opportunities identified and to confirm the next steps to reach the completed opportunity assessment.

Workshop outputs were circulated to attendees immediately following the workshops and brief follow-up calls held for each process to cover any open points or clarifications.

Report Out

The workshop findings were used to generate clear output documents for the SSC and Global Finance Leadership team:

  • Opportunity assessment report:
    • Executive summary and recommendation
    • Details and explanation of the financial and non-financial benefits
    • Assumptions used to derive costs and benefits, and sensitivity analysis
    • Key risks and considerations for implementing RPA
  • Further global opportunities to be considered outside of the SSC • Proposed scope for RPA and high-level implementation plan
  • Excel business case model calculating costs, benefits and key investment metrics (NPV, IRR, payback period).

The findings were presented to the SSC and Global Finance Leadership to provide an interactive discussion and Q&A, identify further useful supporting information and to ensure that the outputs were fully understood and gave sufficient clarity to make the decision on a business case for RPA implementation.