Myth one: Intelligent automation is all about efficiency gains for the finance organization – it cannot really drive bigger business outcomes
Reality: An integrated approach to IA improves effectiveness, insights, and customer experience
The first wave of automation generally focuses on reducing a team's headcount. In many cases, finance organizations approach RPA as they do outsourcing projects: for productivity gains. After getting limited value from this approach, companies realize that before they can realize the benefits of IA, they must align the finance function's goals with business objectives.
For example, for a large healthcare manufacturer, its priority before COVID-19 was revenue growth and leapfrogging the competition. As it faced the crisis, organizational priorities shifted to liquidity and cash management. With a clear view of these priorities and strong alignment with the business, the finance team could make the most of its investments in IA to guide strategic decisions, such as where to ship equipment and how to minimize default risk from key customers.
Organizations that have approached intelligent automation holistically report significantly higher value. It all starts with defining the desired business outcomes. Understanding why and what to automate is more important than how to automate. For example, companies can create and lose significant value at process intersections. To improve the customer experience on the receivables side, an IA project must consider order management, invoice to cash, and supply chain processes.
Before identifying which processes to automate, companies need to define the metrics that will measure the outcomes. Specific metrics will be measures of a reimagined process vision. For example, for accounts receivable (AR), a process vision can be straight-through processing, and the company could measure it using an invoice-efficiency index. Other examples of metrics include the percentage of invoices paid on time with touchless processes in accounts payable (AP), the customer-experience score within an order-management process, and achieving a real-time close in record to report.