Robotic Process Automation – the Do’s & Don’ts

29-03-2022 | Philip Costa Hibberd | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

What are 3 key do’s and don’ts to keep in mind in your RPA journey? Find out in this article I wrote, which was originally published in the Summer Edition of the Zanders Magazine.

This article was originally published in the Summer Edition of the Zanders Magazine. Are you interested in knowing more about Process Automation in the realms of Finance, Treasury and Risk Management? Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Original Source



Last year’s spring, we organized a ‘jargon-free’ breakfast session to explore what robotic process automation (RPA) is all about. We had a look under the hood of a complex, hard-working robot and shared experiences on how to make the journey of deploying a digital workforce as smooth as possible. Find a brief summary below, covering (briefly) what RPA is about, what are the 3 main stages of the RPA journey, and what are the key do’s and don’ts per each stage.

RPA

RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation and is software that performs rule-based work, interacting with systems, websites and applications in the same way a human would. It is a powerful tool that, when applied to the complex industries we work in, allows us to focus more on the valuable activities that make our jobs interesting and less on the boring and repetitive tasks that no one wants to do. You can think of it as macros on steroids.

3 Stages of the RPA Journey

You can find the key takeaways from the Breakfast Session, in the form of do’s and don’ts, summarized below for each of the following 3 stages of the RPA journey:

  • Proof-of-concept: very first stage, where you are focused on exploring the possibilities of RPA
  • Early implementation: the stage where you are focused on rolling out a few robots and automating a handful of processes that you still ‘know by name’
  • Growth: the stage where you are focused on rolling out and managing a full digital workforce and automating more processes than you can remember

The 3 Do’s and the 3 Don’ts

Proof-of-concept

Do: Have fun!

Did you enjoy playing with Lego when you were a child? Then you will probably enjoy tinkering with RPA. Just like with Lego, spend some time discovering all the different components that you have available and finding out all the different ways you can get them together to craft something useful and tailor-made to your needs. Did you like playing with Barbies better than Lego? That’s also great, don’t worry. Deploying RPA in your team will give you plenty of opportunities to put your role-playing experience to use. Understanding roles, responsibilities, objectives and requirements of a process and effectively communicating the benefit of automating via RPA are the pillars of a successful implementation.

❌ Don’t: Don’t forget to explore slightly more advanced components, such as queues, credential management tools, log management tools, robot orchestration and control rooms.

You don’t want to have to bulldoze and rebuild your shiny proof-of-concept automation in a later stage, just because you weren’t aware of these components. They will become critical once you have more than a few processes at hand.

To stay in the Lego metaphor: make sure to explore the features of the full Lego range and don’t just idle on the baby-friendly Lego Duplo.

Early Implementation

Do: Make sure processes and solutions are well documented.

I get it. You want to start building your bot as soon as possible. But make sure to first invest some time in drafting the following documents:

• A Process Design Document to capture at the very least the As-is process flow

• A Solution Design Document to capture how you intend to automate the process

You will be happy to have the former if (when?) you start having discussions on the scope of the work that the bot is expected to perform. It can prevent misunderstanding about what the process is all about and what the bot can do. You will be happy to have the latter if (when?) you have to do some maintenance on the bot that you are now developing. This blueprint will help you to quickly zoom in on the component that you need to tweak.

Good documentation will become even more important as your team grows. Imagine how much karma you will earn when someone in urgent need of fixing the bot finds and reads your clear blueprint!

❌ Don’t: Don’t automate sub-optimal processes.

Get everyone familiar with the concept of GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out – and its less polite brother SISO. A bad manual process will become a terrible automated process, because robots can only act based on predefined rules. The rules can be as complex as you like but there can’t be any room for discretionary judgment. The untiring robots lack that.

Make it clear that a process needs to be streamlined and standardized before it can be a candidate for automation. If it’s not, someone will have to cross the jungle of “It has always been done this way”, which usually stands between a ‘Garbage Process’ and a ‘Good Process’. Who knows, it might turn out that many tasks and subtasks in the process weren’t needed after all.

Growth

Do: Set up a clear RPA Governance.

Once you hit the stage of growth, where your team is rolling out one bot after another, clearly defining the process of automating processes becomes even more important than clearly defining the process that you are automating.

Does the RPA team sit in IT or with the business? Who is responsible for what, in case of a malfunction? How are Audit, Compliance and Risk Management going to adjust policies to include the changes brought in by your new digital workforce?

 Don’t: Don’t forget Security.

While designing your RPA Governance framework, don’t forget the more practical side of Security.

You wouldn’t want to allow anyone the temptation of circumventing the four-eyes principle you already have in place. For example, you must make sure it is still impossible for anyone to input a payment to themselves and have it released by the unaware robot accomplice.

Define as soon as possible how you are going to create, assign and manage the credentials that your bots will need to interact with your existing IT infrastructure. Particularly in the case of unattended bots, it would be best to create specific users for your digital colleagues, with clearly distinguishable usernames. You might even consider going as far as letting your robot change all its passwords to ones of its secret liking as soon as it gets in production.


 

 

Philip Costa Hibberd

 

 

 

 

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Top 5 most read articles at treasuryXL.com and LinkedIn of 2021

04-01-2022 | treasuryXL |

Welcome in 2022! We are thrilled to share the Top 5 Most Read Articles with you below.

TreasuryXL has grown considerably last year, and our data shows us that our articles have widely been visited. We would like to take you to our most viewed website and LinkedIn articles of 2021. (Treasury Topic ‘What is’ articles excluded).


Top 5 treasuryXL website articles of 2021

  1. What are BIC/ SWIFT codes, how do you find them, and how do they work?

    by Xe

  2. Blank Sheet Treasury

    by  Jesper Nielsen-Terp

  3. 7 steps on how to make Cash Flow forecast a success

    by Bas Kolenburg

  4. Blockchain and the Corporate Treasurer: towards Smart Treasuries

    by treasuryXL, Carlo de Meijer

  5. The principles of multilateral netting: what, why and how

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Top 5 treasuryXL LinkedIn posts of 2021

  1. VU ‘Treasury Management & Corporate Finance’ Programme – Online Open Evening

    by VU

  2. 8 questions for Treasury Expert Philip who won the award for 2020 Best Fintech Solution

    by Philip Costa Hibberd

  3. Webinar Series Treasury Management | “Bitcoin. Is this the New Reality in Corporate Treasury or is it a Hoax?”

    by VU

  4. Interview | 8 questions for Kim Vercoulen, treasury recruitment consultant at Treasurer Search

    by Kim Vercoulen, TreasurerSearch

  5. Treasury: the sad story about the ones that do not get it

    by Pieter de Kiewit, TreasurerSearch


Thank you for being part of the treasuryXL community. Wish you all the best in 2022!

 

Kendra Keydeniers

Director Community & Partners

 

 

 

Wout van Wijlick

Marketing Coordinator

 

 

8 questions for Treasury Expert Philip who won the award for 2020 Best Fintech Solution

19-04-2021 | Philip Costa Hibberd | treasuryXL

With over 12 years of experience in the financial industry with the last four years in treasury consulting, Philip has recently launched his own consulting activity, Automation Boutique, specialized in (robotic) process automation for Treasury, Risk and Finance.

“I have been coding for fun since I was a kid. This skill has been very useful throughout my career but has become my trademark in Treasury.”

He recently developed the tool that was awarded the “2020 Best Fintech Solution – Adam Smith award” by Treasury Today magazine. He now tries to focus on what he has always enjoyed the most during his career: solving problems at the intersection between ‘numbers’, ‘people’ and ‘technology’.

We are delighted to share the interview with Philip. Let’s dive into his treasury journey where he answers 8 questions…

1. How did your treasury journey start?

As for many of us, it started somewhat by accident. After working in other areas of finance for many years, a few ethical questions started nagging me. Add a sabbatical, some romance, and a few lucky phone calls and I found myself joining the great corporate treasury team at Zanders (a consultancy firm specialized in Treasury, Risk and Finance).

2. What do you like the most about working in Treasury?

I love the diversity of challenges. You are dealing with the financial heart of the company and need to make sure that the right amount of blood reaches every cell. This necessarily means dealing with different kinds of issues, topics and people. This keeps Treasury fun and in constant evolution!

3. What is your Treasury Expertise?

I have been working as a consultant on very different Treasury projects, from interim roles to system implementations. I guess I am what you would call a generalist, but with a knack for using technology and social skills to solve problems. I have been coding for fun since I was a kid. This skill has been very useful throughout my career but has become my trademark in Treasury.

4. What has been your best experience in your treasury career until today?

Going back to the cardiovascular metaphor for Treasury, the best experience was probably when I was called by a client to solve an urgent clot which was at risk of causing severe damage. An apparently simple data migration exercise turned out to be much more complex than anticipated and was at risk of causing severe delays to a multimillion project. The solution involved a robot, a laptop being flown up and down Europe, a wedding and unreliable hotel wi-fi. Surprisingly, instead of being the ingredients for a bad joke, this led to a happy client and to an award-winning solution.

5. What has been your biggest challenge in treasury?

My biggest challenge in Treasury was witnessing the clash of American, Dutch, Indian, Japanese and many more cultures during a global SAP implementation (going live during a pandemic). Holding three nationalities and being exposed to different cultures from an early age didn’t help me as much as I would have hoped. I would encourage anyone working with different cultures to read Erin Meyer’s book “The Culture Map”. It will be helpful.

6. What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned as a treasurer?

No one is rational and analytical all the time, not even experienced treasury professionals. Good communication is more important than perfect data and models, especially during a crisis. Without it you will lead or be led by emotion and will certainly miss the best course of action. When fear creeps in your own monkey mind, don’t be afraid to have a good conversation with it. Assess how big the actual threat is compared to the shadow being cast by your amygdala.

7. How have you seen the role of Corporate Treasury evolve over the years?

Corporate Treasury has come a long way from its more transactional origins and – as expected – is taking more of an advisory and strategic role within organizations. The boundaries with other specialized professions have faded (risk management and FP&A just to name a few) and I think that this is a good thing. Skilled professionals should be employed to solve interesting problems and come up with great ideas. The best problems and ideas are usually found at the intersection between disciplines and it’s only natural that we tend to all meet there more and more often.

8. What developments do you expect in corporate treasury in the near and further future?

For the near future I expect the focus on the hot topics of the moment to continue: cash visibility, cash flow forecasting, operational efficiency etc.

For the further future, I won’t adventure on guessing exactly what hot topics the next crisis will bring. I will instead share my best guess on the evolution on the corporate treasurer as a person.

My guess is that she or he will be less of a specialist and more of a generalist. The ideal corporate treasurer will be ‘renaissance polymath’ if you will. Our rapidly changing environment makes it more difficult to remain a (useful) specialist for long. Technology also tends to favour the generalist by democratizing specialist’s skills. There will certainly always be room for very specialized knowledge, but the risk of learning too much about too little in a dynamic environment, is that after a while you risk knowing everything about nothing.

 

Philip Costa Hibberd

 

 

 




Does your business need support in Treasury or a Treasury QuickScan?

We have treasurers available, go to Rent a Treasurer for all information.