Filling the gap between spreadsheets and ERP
In some cases, the “spreadsheetland” sitting between applications (such as ERP systems) and programs where enterprise data is analyzed (such as supply chain demand management programs) can be replaced with tools designed for business users. The tools are good at logging into systems, pulling data, and running rule-based processes with that data. For example, SL Green Realty Corp. automated the time-consuming process used to test real estate investment trust (REIT) qualifications, a complex exercise that took three to four weeks and involved over a thousand spreadsheets. Annual and quarterly REIT testing draws on volumes of data from multiple ledgers, systems, and spreadsheets in support of calculations that confirm that the majority of the REIT’s income and assets are derived from qualifying sources. They were able to automate 98 percent of the process from end to end, reducing the process to just minutes, mitigating risk, and allowing for real-time execution of the REIT tests and analysis.
In other cases, using data and RPA tools as gap-fillers may be too limiting, particularly across the enterprise. Bigger gains from automation are within reach across the enterprise when people use intelligent automation tools to reimagine a process and play to the strengths of both humans and machines. An enterprise software company, for example, wanted to fix a dozen discrete pain points within its distributor sales process. After taking a closer look at the process, the company completely reinvented it, including the roles of salespeople, because of what automation made possible. As a result, orders increased 30 percent.