What does CoE really stand for?


By Simon Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, Redwood Software

At least once in your life you will find yourself uttering these words, ‘This is not what I signed up for’, or similarly, ‘This is not really what I expected’. It’s that disappointment in your voice when at that point in time you come to realise that what you thought was promised to you, is not exactly what you received. It’s like you expected a Rolls Royce, but what you got was a Rolls Royce – only with a Mini engine. 

You see, often what at face value might look the same, can actually be quite different when you pop the hood and take a good rummage under the bonnet. And that’s unfortunately exactly what many C-Suite executives in the modern enterprise experience when they go in search of a ‘Centre of Excellence’ (CoE).

What they want to invest in is that magical place where all processes such as Record to Report, Order to Cash, Procure to Pay, Human Capital and the Supply Chain for example are run by software robots – only including people where human judgement and analysis is required. 

But sadly, for many, what they end up getting for their money at the end of the day is a CoE. Not a ‘Centre of Excellence’ though, but rather a ‘Centre of Expense’. You see, if the process robots you have taken on to work in your organization merely mimic the keystrokes of workers at the User Interface (UI) of application screens, then you’ve got some key problems. 

For starters, it takes significant effort to develop and maintain robotic processes which work through the UI as those robots need to deal with all kinds of exceptions which are unrelated to the process itself, such as window pop up messages and error screens and delays in response wait times from the screen. Also, any change to the UI of the application causes rework to the robots. The net result is that you end up having to employ large teams of developers to code every key stroke and click, sit and monitor robots 24/7, track their progress and manually recode them when they fall over. 

Extremely counterproductive when what you set out to achieve with process robotics was to free up resources and allow people to concentrate on more value-added customer facing tasks, rather than merely replace them with other more tech-savvy and possibly more expensive staff. 

Because you end up automating every user-related keystroke activity on the desktop it means that a lot of coding must be done to orchestrate even the very simplest of tasks and this takes plenty of time. And as we all know, time is money.

Also, the costs of scaling robotic deployment can be higher than you have probably contemplated or been told, not only because of the amount of development and maintenance effort but also because of the additional costs that need to be accounted for. For example, 1,000 robots require 1,000 desktop sessions, etc. You do the maths.

Now suddenly your Total Cost of Ownership isn’t looking as good as you first envisaged it would be.

What you really need is a Centre of Excellence that is predominantly FTE free and only retains a handful of people who look at continuous business process improvements using robotics, rather than people who are concerned with the technicalities of replicating user activity on the desktop. 

With the right approach your business users are empowered to make business process changes and improvements without the need for constant technical and development effort. And that approach is entirely possible and indeed in practice by several companies today.

All of which will ultimately leave you with the most optimised business processes possible, the fastest implementation times, and reusable robots that can be scaled and deployed globally with ease.

Now isn’t that what you really set out to achieve in the first place?

Categories:   Automation   Robotics  
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