How Process Automation Will Transform Your Finance Function
By Clinton Jones on September 28, 2016
Periodic reviews of how your business is performing based on tactical and strategic goals is a part of everyday business. As part of this process at Winshuttle, I get to attend meetings with various teams to discuss success and the opportunities that are in flight. A recurring theme I’ve noticed is the challenge of understanding where Winshuttle products fall in relation to process automation. An interesting question was brought up around where a robotic process might be useful in comparison with a set of Winshuttle bound processes.
Questions like this arise in sales cycles, but more often than not the customer will determine these two elements have different characteristics. The most interesting aspect of this debate is whether Winshuttle and the robot should actually both be in place, and the answer is often a categorical ‘yes’. In any transformation process, especially in the finance function, it’s key to understand where the strengths and weaknesses lie in the people, processes and technologies we use.
People are variable, emotional and inconsistent, but they are also passionate and self-directed. This means that when a business process is meant to perform at a higher level, people may be essential to the process. People can assess whether there are process inefficiencies. The processes themselves are often made up of one or more tasks, and may have measures or key objectives that require reporting.
What about technology?
Technology is an important part of these activities, but doesn’t have to be digital technology. I was reminded of this when I was reviewing some old documents on inventory management and remembered how we used to use bin tags to review inventory movement. We used this to assess what inventory should be held in the bin, without having to access a system. It’s a simple piece of technology but its usefulness is only as good as how much you understand how it’s used and how consistently it’s used. You can use it for inbound supplier invoice processing, asset verification, budgeting and planning or the manual journal entry process.
Winshuttle and robotic process automation
We’ve found that innovative customers who might have robotic process automation in place recognize they can use robots to achieve even bigger gains with Winshuttle. We’ve seen this before, particularly with customers like Philips Lighting who presented at the Winshuttle User Group conference in Brussels. Although the presentation didn’t focus on the automation aspects, we have seen this when inbound data is consistent. Under these circumstances, data is manipulated by the robot and the robot in turn passes the prepared data-file to a Winshuttle bound automation process to integrate with SAP or Salesforce.
Although Winshuttle can help you achieve massive time saving benefits for SAP integration, and improving data quality before you attempt to post to SAP, it isn’t as useful in the data preparation and staging aspect. This might arguably be an area where a robot could be of tremendous advantage.
If you have a particular story around how you have transformed a business process by using either the business user or developer extensibility layer of Winshuttle to prepare data or move files around prior to using a Winshuttle script to complete the data management cycle I would love to hear from you!
About the author
Clinton Jones is a Director for Finance Solutions Management at Winshuttle where he has worked since 2009. He is internationally experienced having worked on finance technologies and business process with a particular focus on integrated business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Clinton serves as a technical consultant on technology and quality management as it relates to data and process management and governance for finance organizations globally. Prior to Winshuttle he served as a Technical Quality Manager at SAP and with Microsoft in their Global Foundation Services group.
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