“In my next article about automation in practice at Amber Beverage Group, let me turn to the crown jewel of process efficiency of the Group – our own Shared Service Center,” said Jekaterina Stuģe, CFO and COO at Amber Beverage Group (ABG).
“What started out as a holding company synergy initiative back in 2014 is now a major process hub for 18 Group companies from Latvia to Mexico. This is where our latest thought on process efficiency and robotics is being applied with practical implications. Indeed, no better place to seek out the key learnings than in the field.”
1. Continuous investment in technology is key to make the best of automation at your Shared Service Center or similar initiative. Ongoing focus on the latest technology allows us to harvest the full potential of shared service synergies. New technologies such as OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) have appeared fast on the market and are becoming must-have tools for SSC. Ability to run pilot projects on entities with a limited number of transactions gives opportunities to adjust the processes prior to launching them on a wider scale.
2. A unified data structure is the fundamental building block for any automation initiative at your SSC or elsewhere. Having in place a single Enterprise Resource Planning (EPR) system with a unified data structure enables fast adoption to new financial and management reporting requirements serving the needs of key decision-makers and operations. Imagine introducing a single regulatory change across multiple businesses, if they used different data structures – you would then essentially be faced with a multitude of different projects. Unified data structure for your automated process is what makes it happen. Plus, it allows for instant possibility to analyze the performance of all Group companies with meaningful, comparative data.
3. Shared Service Center serves as a hub for investing in not just automation & robotics, but also your people. Functional split and reallocation of tasks within the SSC enables professional opportunities to those in your team who look for career growth and constant improvement of professional skill-sets. This also provides for easier, seamless replacement and substitution opportunities without having a negative impact on service quality.
4. Technology will allow broadening the scope of service synergies. Solutions in RPA, OCR and many more in Business intelligence systems will constantly expand what you can do – from automated accounting to better business insight, from better information flow to an increased speed of approvals and decisions and many other benefits. This is an ongoing process – Your SSC processes will change over time and gradually evolve along with the technology – you may not recognize your SSC from what it was just five years ago.
5. Return on investment – last, but certainly not least. Despite the fact, that implementation of new technologies might be a resource-intensive process, deployment of technologies among several companies and processes at the same time may dramatically improve the returns on your investment and free up the resources for new challenges. Do this right and this is where the theoretical gains from synergies are actually realized.