Robotic process automation (RPA)

 Case Study

Kian currently works for a company called Gryphite Quarry based in Wales and has worked in various finance roles for the last seven years. The company forms part of a large quarry operation where they mine several different materials such as Asphalt, Iron, and work on various demolition projects within the construction industry which means they have a large transport and logistics depot.

Kian has been happy in his current role which includes overseeing the accounts payable department, reporting on various Key Performance Indicators and leading a team of employees who tender for large demolition contracts.

Armed with an Accounting and Finance degree; Kian was ambitious and wanted to help form and shape the future of finance for Gryphite Quarry.

Kian’s manager called him in for a meeting to give him a ‘heads up’. It was decided at a board meeting that Gryphite Quarry had made the decision to engage with an external consultancy company on a temporary contract with the ideas of helping shape the finance function to a more digitised function. It had been decided that many of the day to day transactional work should now become automated.

The objective for this decision is to allow the finance function to add more value to the organisation and to assist in strategic decision making. By removing transactional processes to an automated function this will help improve efficiency, reduce errors and move with the future of automation and robotics.

If all went well this would mean that Kian would be able to focus his efforts on strategic, analytical skills and deepen his knowledge of end to end processes within various different elements of software.

Even though Kian wanted to shape the future of finance and understood that there was a requirement for the finance team to add value he was concerned that he didn’t have the skills available for this role. Kian commented ‘I am not from an I/T background and my team are fearful of understanding automation and robotics such as Artificial Intelligence’.

Kian’s manager assured him that he would work closely with the consultants and that the consultants had an excellent portfolio of training process-orientated finance staff to use robotic process automation and they had success stories of saving companies tens of thousands of employees manual hours and celebrated the key drivers of change to embed a culture of finance in a digital world.

The key for success is not to radically shift and change everything towards robotic automation but to be ahead of the technology strategy. To align the culture of the organisation. Kian’s manager understood that the team will fear the change because a common thought from the team will be that ‘the robots are taking our jobs’ and that their jobs in time will become redundant.

The success of this strategy is investing in the right technology for the processes that we wish to change. Not only is the technology important but the focus is on the digital leadership of the people. Managing people through a process of change is difficult. However; the external consultancy firm has seen a large increase of finance digital leaders who obviously understand the transactional processes but are now far more analytical, strategic and have a different way of thinking how efficiencies can be implemented by using robotics.

Robotic Process Automation is the application of technology that allows users to configure computer software to capture and interpret existing applications, according to the Institute for Robotic Process Automation & Artificial Intelligence. It is used for processing transactions, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems.

The technology follows rules in a prescribed order to automate work. It is compatible with other software because it can manipulate the user interface that humans normally use. It can follow if/then logic as it does things such as open email messages and attachments, log in to applications, move files and folders, copy and paste, fill forms, read and write to databases, scrape data from the internet, make calculations, and extract structured data from documents.

The Robotic Automated (RPA) software that will be used by Gryphite enables employees to automate tasks by pulling commands from a software menu, or, in some cases, by using a record button-type function that logs a human’s mouse and keyboard commands, writing code as it goes, available for playback in the future. It’s a lot of drag-and-drop.

The use of RPA to automate individual tasks has helped companies examine, reconfigure, and ultimately streamline entire processes, a practice commonly called business process automation.

“Technology is going to change every role, and not just at Gryphite but across industries and across roles, “We’re here to not only ensure the company survives long term, but ensure our employees have good roles long term. And those good roles are the more complex roles.”

 

Requirement

Critically discuss the implementation of robotic process automation to help shape the future of finance. Please apply your research to the above case study and conclude whether you agree that this is a successful strategy for Gryphite Quarry to implement.  (1500 words)