“There are no physical robots involved in the implementation of RPA”
“The only limitation to RPA is our imagination”
By Joon Teoh, CEO AGOS ASIA
AGOS ASIA in collaboration with Monstar Club led a delegation of 20 Finance and IT professionals on a working visit to Sime Darby Global Services Centre’s Robotic Process Automation (GSC RPA) Centre recently, hosted by Victor Lam, the Group Head , Sime Darby Global Services Centre. The Sime Darby GSC RPA Centre has been in operation since December 2016 and is one of the leading RPA centres in Malaysia, focusing on building software robots for Finance, HR and IT business processes.
One of the first questions asked by the participants was “Where are the bots?” It is not surprising to not be able to see futuristic robots in an RPA Centre, as the automation is performed by software robots. Automation by RPA can be broadly categorised into 3 main areas - excel automation, web based automation and device automation. In a nutshell, a virtual, software robot replaces humans in performing manual repetitive tasks. Very often, these software robots are able to perform these tasks faster than humans working 24/7 and without making any errors.
The Sime Darby GSC RPA team gave an impressive live demonstration of how the robots could execute tasks such as Purchasing Card (P-card) reconciliation, providing stronger controls in ensuring charges made to P-cards are valid and accurate. In another demo, the robots were programmed to create a New Work Request Ticket via a software ticketing tool by accessing a group email box and retrieving key words. A notification email with information on the ticket could also be sent by the robot upon completion of the task. Another common challenge faced by the Accounts Payable team within Finance is the Goods Receipt Invoice Receipt (GRIR) reconciliation in SAP. To resolve this, the team has successfully built a robot to perform this arduous matching task and gained a total savings of 14 mandays per month.
The key to RPA implementation is to start small by first identifying tasks which are manual, repetitive and voluminous. Once an RPA tool has been selected, it is recommended that a multi-functional team be set up to build the software robots to execute these transactional activities. Starting small and taking it step by step allows stakeholders within the organisation to better understand what the RPA can do to improve productivity within an organisation and to get their buy-in. It also allows the inhouse RPA team to build up their capabilities and experience in developing the software robots.
The benefit of implementing RPA is not to reduce headcount, rather, it provides opportunities for the workforce to upskill and perform higher value-added tasks which cannot be performed by robots. As these manual, repetitive transactional tasks no longer require human input, the workforce will need to be flexible to learn new things, focus on analysis and interpretation of data to resolve exceptions highlighted by the robots.
The attendees of the forum summed up the experience with a realisation that “the only limitation to RPA is our own imagination”. Since the robots need humans to design and manage them to the optimum level, humans and robots will co-exist for a while.
About Sime Darby Global Services Centre (SDGSC)
SDGSC provides Finance, IT, HR/Payroll and Procurement services to its customers located in 13 countries in Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa. In the provision of these services, SDGSC adopts worldclass business processes and tools, including the use of RPA software, to ensure the highest levels of service delivery and quality