Australia Post - RPA benefits beyond process efficiency
Australia Post has been leading a programme of continuous improvement across the finance team. This programme has involved activities such as examining the maturity of current finance processes, process mapping, and undertaking process optimisation, including task elimination where possible.
They have looked to a combination of traditional Lean methodologies as well as digitisation and technology applications to optimise their processes and are now considering the potential use of emerging intelligent automation tools too.
The overall aim is to drive operational effectiveness, reduce the cost of finance and critically free up the finance team to support high value business critical activities. RPA is seen as an important technology as part of a suite of digital improvements to achieve these goals as the finance organisation transforms. However, further adoption of the technology across the wider business remains a work in progress currently, and as the finance team looks to scale the technology new issues such as the appropriate governance and operating model are under consideration, as well as developing more rigour around the quantification of cashable and non-cashable benefits from adoption.
"The overall aim is to drive operational effectiveness, reduce the cost of finance and critically free up the finance team to support high value business critical activities."
The initial proof of concept of the RPA technology was undertaken on a small number of core processes within the finance team. It became clear to the team quickly at the outset from the proof of concept that RPA was able to automate key tasks within certain processes. It has:
- provided opportunities to reduce the cost of delivering the processes through labour savings
- further reduced manual, repetitive and mundane processing tasks
- enabled handling of higher volume data integrity activities
- started to free staff capacity to realign efforts towards high value analytical and critical thinking tasks
A key additional benefit cited by Australia Post has been improved data quality and improvements in the control environment from RPA adoption. For example, the software has been deployed on its business card expenditures process to improve the auditing process. Because of the high volume of transactions previous protocol was to undertake spot auditing on 1.5% of all card transactions, a considerable investment in time and labour against a small number of audit criteria. As a consequence of building RPA into the auditing process, 100% of all transactions can now be audited across a significantly expanded suite of criteria.