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Shared services and outsourcing – A robotic future?

Shared services and outsourcing – A robotic future?

There are many advantages to outsourcing, as well as complexities and risks, and now with disruptive technologies and robotic process automation on offer, there are even more considerations.

Michael Smart

National Leader, Shared Services & Outsourcing

KPMG Australia


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3D female robot

To uncover existing and emerging shared service and outsourcing issues, as well as innovative ideas and solutions, KPMG conducted roundtable discussions in Melbourne and Sydney, attended by executives from multiple corporate functions from financial services, telecommunications, fast food, healthcare, energy and other key industries.

Key takeaways

  • Robotic process automation: Is engaging RPA for shared services the right approach? Incorporating robotics requires replicating exact human processes, a systematic change in thinking, implementing a rigorous approach to governance and controls, as well as pre-empting potential organisational culture and employee engagement challenges. It is essential to assess the suitability of a number of automation, technology and operational excellence alternatives across end-to-end processes, before assuming RPA is the right answer for every process/function.
  • Managing the bots: Who is in charge of the bots? Accountability is key. Some companies are capturing bots within their existing organisational structure, with transparency over which robot is responsible for what task. Visual Management is also being used to provide transparency around activities the Bots are working on and to quickly draw attention to any potential issues.
  • Humans still key: Robotics can solve simple questions and ease employees of repetitious, time consuming processes. However, will robotics always provide the best solution? People can improve the customer experience, solve problems that were more complex, fix outliers, or use reasoning when information diverges.
  • Who is driving the bots? To engage the broader business in robotics, test cases can help. Creating a robotics centre of excellence, and drawing in representatives from different departments to map processes and learn coding is a proven approach.
  • Governance and accountability: As these advanced technologies change the shared services model, governance is vital. The solution may be creating a Head of Automation at the Enterprise-level.
  • The impact of technology on employment: New technology in shared services can create a number of employee engagement challenges. Organisations need to invest in people and support re-training.
  • International shifts: When considering future service delivery models organisations should look at all the cost reduction and quality/customer satisfaction levers available to them.

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