Too many efficiency-minded organizations get caught in ‘speed traps.’

Consider this scenario:

An organization’s leaders aim to boost efficiency. To this end, they decide to automate as many finance roles as possible. They begin by hiring a team of robotic engineers. They set a goal (we will automate [20/100/1000] tasks). They launch an organization-wide initiative.

Speed Trap 1: The project achieves its goals: the tasks in question are now hands-free. But nobody evaluated each process before automating it.

A software macro will perform most processes faster than a human being. But speed won’t fix flaws in the processes themselves. In fact, by accelerating processes, the organization has succeeded only in magnifying flaws and increasing the likelihood of error.

Speed Trap 2: CIO Magazine’s Peter Bendor-Samuel explains: “If the plan is to automate 2,000 [tasks]…the first five—the low-hanging fruit—go very quickly.” But that initial momentum soon dissipates, staff turn against the project, and “the organization ends up under-delivering against the promise.”

Bendor-Samuel blames underestimation: Executives think automation will be easier than it is, so they go too quickly or slowly for their needs.

Yet what if Bendor-Samuel is wrong? What if the organization took a wrong turn long before they got caught ‘speeding?’

Think about the process behind both outcomes. Hire ’10 to 40’ robotic engineers. Spend millions. Automate processes, one by one.

This might have been a smart approach in 1999. Not in 2019.

Today, one cloud partnership can provide more powerful automation than any do-it-yourself project.

1. First, the right cloud provider will weave process automation throughout their solution. In the case of ERP, one new application will automate tasks ranging from bank reconciliation to month-end consolidation. The customer doesn’t need to hire robotic engineers or manage a ballooning initiative. The provider guides customers through implementation and delivers lifetime support.

2. Second, the rare ERP provider will combine process automation with best practices. In other words, they will help customers evaluate and optimize their processes before automating them. A provider with this level of commitment will often build machine learning technologies into their software, giving customers tools that learn as they use them.

Xledger has been automating financial processes since 2003, long before the current hype over RPA. We began with bank reconciliation and have expanded automation to more processes than any competing ERP. We work alongside clients to improve their processes, equipping them with adaptive technologies that learn from the experiences of every other customer.

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Standalone RPA projects belong in the financial past. Today’s organizations can get market-leading RPA within a comprehensive ERP solution.

After all, the best way to avoid a speed trap isn’t to go slower.

It’s to take a different road entirely.