While today’s enterprises turn to automation for a multitude of competitive advantages, cost savings is at the top of their list. Through their marketing initiatives, often backed by client case studies and references, third-party service providers often boast automation-driven FTE reductions that save their clients millions of dollars.
Indeed, we’ve seen claims of savings to the tune of 30-70 percent FTE reductions. But our own data, culled from BPO deals on which we advise, show FTE reductions that are one-third to two-thirds lower.
Why is there such a significant gap? It’s because the service providers are calculating the reduction at the project level, instead of at the process level. While the numbers show well using a project level calculation, they’re very misleading, and often lead to disappointment.
Let’s take a quick look at an invoice processing example to see the glaring differences.
As you see, an automation-driven invoice data extraction project in North America results in a 60 percent FTE reduction. Yet, when you expand the calculation to include invoice coding and exception handling in all operating regions – i.e., the enterprise-wide end-to-end invoicing process – the number drops to 10 percent. A 60 percent FTE reduction is highly enticing, and technically it’s correct. But it doesn’t show you the whole picture.
In order to properly assess the value of automation and develop your business case, you need to look at the percentage savings for the entire process. This is the only way you’ll obtain objective, realizable benefits data.
Your first thought might be to try and collect it from similar enterprises that have already implemented automation. But the numbers won’t be particularly reliable, as most enterprises are in the early days of their automation journey.
The most practical and valuable approach is to look at the BPO deal-based data for the entire process to be automated. Doing so gives you a realistic view of the automation-driven FTE savings for a couple of reasons. First, the FTE base for automation benefit calculation in deals is clearly defined in the baselining/RFP phase as the total number of FTEs in the process. And second, the FTE benefit numbers within deals are slightly more aggressive than the current norm, but because providers are continually refining their capabilities, they are comfortable with contractually committing to the higher numbers.
And remember that your BPO and/or RPA implementation provider should present this data to you to set realistic expectations. If they don’t, you’ll be armed with the ammunition you need.
Automation has the potential to greatly reduce your expenses. But before you leap, you need to carefully evaluate how the savings are being calculated. Your satisfaction depends on it.
If you’d like detailed insights on the FTE reduction numbers across different BPO processes within live BPO deals, please connect with us at [email protected] or visit https://www.everestgrp.com/research/domain-expertise/benchmarking/.
Taken together, various contract-specific adjustments can double the price per unit per month
Application Support Services: 12 fee drivers you must normalize to ensure a like-to-like comparison in benchmarking application support pricing
Outsourcing contract third-party benchmark clauses: typically observed auto-adjustment scenarios
Automation driving 30%+ productivity improvements across the IT stack
Sample indexed productivity improvements, 2016-18YTD
Is there a right time to benchmark? While benchmarking clauses can be built into a contract, it is best to align benchmarking with concrete objectives throughout the sourcing journey
Is there a right time to benchmark? While benchmarking clauses may be built into a contract, it is best to align benchmarking with concrete objectives throughout the sourcing journey.
During a recent next-generation packaged application benchmarking project for one of our Tier 1 clients, one point jumped out at us: service providers and product vendors have started moving away from the traditional waterfall approach to an adaptive hybrid agile-waterfall approach while solutioning for packaged application deployments.
You’re probably wondering if an agile-led methodology is necessary, since packaged applications have inbuilt configurations that are aligned to industry best practices. The resounding answer is yes, as packaged apps projects have been victims of scope creep, cost overruns, missed deadlines, objective mismatches, and a host of other issues. A good share of these failures can be attributed to the customization requirements that were built using a traditional implementation approach, which encouraged a siloed and non-continuous way of working.
The effectiveness of the hybrid approach can be easily gauged through a mix of waterfall and agile-based SLAs and KPIs. We are seeing that using the hybrid waterfall-agile methodology significantly improves traditional packaged apps implementation project SLAs such as defect leakage, defect density, and schedule and cost adherence. And agile KPIs such as velocity rate, work-focus factor, and percent of story-point accuracy help keep track of team productivity, and enable the team to track deviations from standard configurations.
One major adopter of the hybrid approach is SAP, which has refurbished its implementation framework with the introduction of its agile-based Activate methodology for the SAP S/4 HANA suite. While SAP has retained the strong elements of the traditional Accelerated SAP (ASAP) waterfall methodology, it has changed its approach from a template-led long duration blueprinting exercise to a fit-gap analysis for processes configured on a cloud-based solution. Additionally, it no longer runs the realization phase in a linear fashion, wherein testing is performed only after complete configuration or customization is done. Instead, testing resources are onboarded as soon as the sprint starts, and implementation effectiveness is gauged right from the word “go.”
Many service providers and product vendors are also following this same approach in some form and fashion, particularly in the realization phase.
It helps enterprises streamline their journey to becoming a truly agile organization, and enables a better end-user experience, as improved SLAs underscore better service delivery. And it helps service providers enhance their brand reputation, capture more business, and shed the tag of being old school and monolithic in their implementation approach.
If you are interested in learning more about the impact of the hybrid waterfall methodology on project timelines, average daily rate, overall TCV, contractual SLAs, and risk alleviation mechanisms, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. You can also visit our Benchmarking page.