Is there a place for robots in accountancy?

What role can robots play in a rather traditional business field like accountancy?

It’s a question the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has been wrestling with – trying to figure out whether what it describes as robotic process automation (RPA) will prove to be a reality or remain just “a very clever marketing tool”.

From an accountant’s point of view, of course, one of the key questions is: what are the chances of a robot being clever enough to do my job, but a report from the association also considers the much wider question of which jobs around an organisation could be improved, replaced or eliminated altogether through RPA.

It notes: “Finance leaders obsess about transformation levers, [and except for] the requisite investment in an expensive ERP platform, have typically leaned heavily on the equation of people and process… The technology component has mainly been limited to communication widgets that facilitate workflow and e-invoicing.”

No matter that robots are “actually software tools run in a data centre working through a user interface that have, for the most part, been around for some time” the report continues, “any discussion of robots in the finance function is a proxy for the future of the finance organisation, and finance careers”.

And a big issue, the report points out, is the relative scarcity of solid cases studies of successful implementations of robotics outside of very large companies and specific areas like the car industry.

As Deloitte’s Peter Moller points out in the report: “At the moment, all the hype on the websites hasn’t been supported with real case studies saying this organisation had 300 people in a finance shared service centre sitting in the UK or India and has eliminated 40 people because they automated process and driven efficiencies. I don’t believe we have seen that yet”.

To help accountants to consider the issue, the association has come up with a set of guidelines.

Price rationally Some think that the economic business case is not compelling enough to move from “a labour arbitrage model”, the guidelines say, but introducing robots is not just about cutting costs. “Don’t price the software as a lower cost FTE,” it says, instead “serve up a cost proposition that demonstrates the cost-benefit of total cost of ownership”.

Allow clients to “try then buy” Again this may appear like simple common sense, but the association points out that “nothing sells like proof of concept”. Let the necessary people – “finance transformers” as the ACCA puts it – “play with the technology long enough to sell themselves on the benefits and ease of use”.

Infuse IP While some may think that “anyone with a manual and some process knowledge” can do this, it points out, in reality that it’s not good enough. “The sell needs to be around domain-rich, transformative solutions” the report says.

Be honest There is a risk that “providers have a tendency to wave RPA in front of finance transformers like a shiny new toy” during the proposal process so that they can “get into the game, then revert to the old labour arbitrage value proposition”. In a word, don’t.

Don’t over-scope and over-price Some consultants, trying to replace significant multi-million dollar ERP implementation contracts may be looking at RPA implementation as the next cash cow. Again, one word, don’t.

Source: Znet-Is there a place for robots in accountancy?

Contract and relationship management most in-demand skills for data centre outsourcing, survey says

Expertise in contract and relationship management are the skills businesses look for the most when outsourcing data centre and cloud data centre services, according to a new survey.

Technology news provider Computing.co.uk said that research it conducted showed that the ability to “manage service partners and oversee contracts and their delivery” are the skills businesses mostly look when entering into data centre outsourcing agreements.

People with skills that have “a strong security focus” are second most in demand by businesses entering into such outsourcing deals, according to the Computing.co.uk report.

IT contracts expert Iain Monaghan of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “In identifying negotiating and contractual skills as keys to success, the research echoes our experience. The best managers understand what has been agreed, preferably by having been involved in the original negotiations, and can apply their understanding and skills both to ensure that suppliers deliver what they’ve promised in the contract but also to identify areas of the contract that require attention – where, for example, an innovation in service delivery could be better exploited by an amendment in the contractual terms.”

“Rather than ‘putting the contract in a drawer’, they use it as a living instrument that describes the relationship between the two companies and develops as that relationship develops,” he said.

Source: www.out-law.com-Contract and relationship management

Founder of Indian Outsourcing Giant Faces Life Imprisonment

B. Rama Raju, founder of Satyam Computer Services, has been found guilty of embezzling millions from the company, as have two of his brothers and seven other company officials.

All ten will now be sentenced, and it is likely that all will be given life sentences. Investigators say that Raju and his fellow executives cost the company’s shareholders 140 billion rupees ($2.28 billion USD).

A year after the scandal erupted, Tech Mahindra bought a majority stake in Satyam Computer Services and changed the company’s name to Mahindra Satyam.