Shared services have changed a lot in the last 10-15 years. The adoption of electronic invoicing, smartphones, cloud-based Software-as-a-Service, RPA and artificial intelligence have kept us in a constant state of evolution.
But what impact is this having on the workforce? And what can you do to start preparing for the next 10-15 years?
Sharedserviceslink and ITESOFT produced a white paper on the impact of digital transformation on shared services that examines this in detail.
Here are some highlights:
Automation is taking on the work of entry-level jobs
Advanced digital technology is making some of the manual, repetitive and high-volume work that used to be done by humans, redundant. In a recent ACCA study* of almost 19,000 finance professionals, 57% of respondents said that they think technology will replace many entry-level roles in the accounting profession.
This is not to say that automation necessarily means job losses. For many, it will free up time that had been spent on manual, repetitive tasks. But there is no getting around the fact that software is now taking on tasks like data entry, and the nature of the jobs needed in shared services is changing.
Teams will focus on more analysis and added-value activities
In the same ACCA study, 84% said technology will enable finance professionals to focus on much higher-value added activity. Similarly, a Goldsmith University study** found that in augmented workplaces (that use AI and RPA), 78% using RPA say it frees employees from repetitive work.
A few years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine a workplace free of manual, repetitive tasks in shared services. However, now that companies are implementing advanced technology to take on a lot of that work, they are finding their time is freed up for activities such as analysis, in-depth problem solving and more face time with the business.
Data and governance roles will be crucial
Without good quality data, most automation efforts will falter. To avoid the ‘garbage-in, garbage-out’ problem, maintaining good quality data is essential to keep your system running smoothly. People who understand data, the importance of keeping it clean, and analyzing it will always be important.
In addition, when new technology is brought in, we need people who can understand it. People who are well versed in the technology, as well as the needs of the business and how operations run, will be important to help govern the implementation and growth of technology.
Finance shared services leaders are the change agents
While the impetus for digital transformation is often driven from the C-Suite, the executives aren’t generally best-placed to understand what digital transformation looks like specifically for shared services. Therefore, finance and shared services leaders have an important opportunity here to ‘manage up’ and drive digital transformation in their departments. It is up to finance and shared services leaders to be the change agents and bridge the gap between the executive leadership and the finance teams on the ground.
For more insight into what digital transformation looks like for shared services, and how to prepare, download the white paper below.