For shared services leaders, process automation is not a new concept. It’s been a critical part of the conversation for years as organizations have continued to consolidate services and move their service centers up the maturity ladder.
But with new technologies emerging, like robotic process automation (RPA), what does that mean for automation as we’ve known it? How will process automation’s own evolution affect your shared services team’s existing or planned automation initiatives?
At the 20th Annual Shared Services & Outsourcing Week conference in Orlando, Florida. A panel of shared services leaders from MetLife, Oracle, and The Department of Health and Human Services shared their thoughts on how the future of process automation will affect the future of shared services.
Here are the top three things the panelists said to keep an eye out for in 2016 regarding automation and the evolution of next generation of shared services:
A new talent profile
Automation technologies continue to provide shared services professionals with ever-increasing volumes of data. Data about internal process and system performance, customer behavior, employee preferences, facilities usage, and more.
But not all service centers are equipped to make any sense of this information. Tech savviness is no longer a differentiator in hiring decisions – it’s a given. What service centers need now are people who can analyze the data produced by automation technologies and provide actionable insights back to the business – whether that’s about improving current processes or identifying unseen opportunities. They’re looking for candidates with the analytical skills to put all of the pieces together and make informed decisions based on data.
The trick to hiring and retaining talented people is to empower them with the tools they need to provide the kind of analysis that will propel your business forward.
Shared services as expert consultants
Establishing shared systems and collaborative tools for the business has long been the charter for shared services organizations, but automation technologies are changing the way in which departments and business units share and act on information. Automation eliminates the manual filing, sorting, and processing of information for functions like accounts payable or human resources, leaving more time for service centers to participate in the business and add value, not just serve it.
But this requires the business and service center alike to rethink how they interact with one another. Shared services professionals need to think beyond their functional knowledge and expertise, and instead be more consultative to the business, learning how to ask the right questions about operating procedures that ultimately lead to solutions.
A new focus for the service center
As service centers expand automation technologies to optimize more and more processes, many say their workforce is shifting from operations tasks to more service-oriented tasks. But what does that mean?
To the panelists – that means redeploying services to develop completely new capabilities for the business. This could be anything from non-standardized, custom reporting, to predictive analytics, to proactively identifying and consulting on improvement opportunities in areas outside the service center itself.
The human element will always be necessary – so service centers should reserve the easy tasks for automation and reserve the brainpower of their staff for creatively solving business challenges.
In the end, it’s all about empowering a talented workforce with the information it needs to deliver superior service – internally and externally.