Cracking the Code of Automation in Shared Services | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

We have been wondering how service providers will ultimately tap into Service Delivery Automation (SDA) technologies to support their standardized and industrialized shared services offerings. Most have multitudes of in-house developed automations, including macros and the robotic varieties. Some have developed automation routines that can be shared across engagements for either specific processes (e.g., accounts payable) or for common purposes such as login & credentials management. The challenging part for shared services is to get a view across all automations, whether they are provided by macros, robotic or cognitive tools, as well as across clients.

Service providers are approaching this problem differently. Some are happy to just tap into the individual automation tools control panel, while others are looking for a controller of controllers capability. We are starting to hear from more and more service providers that have built the capability – Capgemini and Xerox being among them.

In a recent briefing with Capgemini, we heard about its solution to this problem. Capgemini has developed its own business services automation platform that will ultimately work with most automation technologies, including UiPath and Celaton, two of most recently announced Capgemini SDA partners. The platform is already operational and soon will clock up over a million transactions processed through it and UiPath.

Why a business services automation platform?

The majority of off-the-shelf automation software allow the user to manage and control automations from a centralized feature. This is fine and dandy for that piece of software, but most organizations use several automation tools from different vendors and need to have oversight of operations across all of them. With shared services, there is the added requirement of monitoring and, possibly, metering automated processes that are fulfilled through the shared capability. These features would aid operational quality assurance and transaction-based and volumetric pricing by providing process intelligence through role-based dashboards and reports. This kind of capability takes time to develop. We note that Capgemini’s platform offers the monitoring and analysis capability currently but not fully automated metering.

A central capability to manage, monitor, and measure the performance of automations, no matter where they’re run in the world, is fundamental for shared services. The advantages are clear to see:

  • Helps an automation Center of Excellence (CoE) to reuse and share robot codes across engagements as befits a shared services environment
  • Replaces a typically uncontrolled mess of home grown automation routines that are classically hidden among different engagements’ project assets and artefacts and consequently:
    • Enables IT to keep track of what is running where and implement full version control and asset management best practice
  • This allows service providers to have sensible discussions with clients about changing to transaction-based pricing, gainsharing, baselining volumes, benchmarking, and measuring performance against SLAs
  • The capability allows the service provider to see what is available and what needs to be added, e.g., add agent assist capability to the mix of RPA for back-office and AI document processing

For the controller of controllers to work, service providers will have to keep interfacing more and more automation technologies with it so that they can manage all of them no matter when and where they are used. Capgemini, for example, is working to connect more automation tools to its control platform. These include virtual agents for answering repetitive questions and smart search.

The shape of things to come

Whether they like it or not, service providers face the prospect of having to do away with much of manual processing of repetitive work and have staff, who will be exception managers and teachers of AI platforms, and will take care of higher value and complex work instead. The outlook for the future is as much straight-through automated processing as possible.

It is good to see how service providers, such as Capgemini, are making good progress on SDA. For many, previously, automation was part of the bigger digital picture, but today having teams of automation excellence specialists has become an imperative.

Ease of system integration and achieving higher transaction integrity at reasonable cost are key parts of driving higher benefits from automation.

We expect to see more announcements by service providers, as they enhance and scale up their automation capabilities.

 

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