Turbocharge your Shared Services Center with Low Code

Gavin Maxwell - Webinar: Turbocharge your Shared Services Center with Low Code

Gavin Maxwell

Partner, Head of Shared Services Practice MENA


S Sriram - Webinar: Turbocharge your Shared Services Center with Low Code

S Sriram

Head, Global Shared Services Center Practices


Organizations across various industries are rapidly modernizing their back-office operations and are transforming their business models to attain business excellence, post Covid-19 pandemic. Shared Services Centers (SSCs), like yours, should not just survive but thrive and emerge stronger in the aftermath. Modern SSCs are evolving, from their traditional roles of being the hub for specific operational tasks and cost savings centers.

Watch this on-demand webinar as our panelists discuss how low code platforms can help organizations inch closer to their digital goals by empowering their shared services centers. This webinar will help you gain insights into how NewgenONE Digital Transformation Platform can help you encompass end-to-end process automation, remote business operations, strong process virtualization, redefined goals, key performance indicators, etc.


  • Why & How – Accelerate SSC post pandemic
  • Identifying the areas of process excellence and business productivity
  • Bring in Business resilience by choosing the right technology /platform.
  • Achieving Increased Workforce productivity and operational excellence
  • Industry principles and guiding factors
  • Q&A
Watch Recording

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Glitty Paul:                          Hello. Good morning everyone and welcome to this webinar, Turbocharge Your Shared Services with the Low Code, jointly being presented by EY and Newgen software. I thank you all for a very overwhelming response, with more than 200 registrations for this webinar. Myself, Glitty Paul, I’m the Regional Direct Sales Manager with Newgen, your host and moderator for today. In this webinar, we have our key speaker, Gavin Maxwell, who’s the partner, head of shared services practice MENA region from EY and is a member of EY’s global business services, global leadership team. Also, he has served as a shared services advisor to a lot of middle east clients, which include some of the world’s largest oil companies, largest development agencies, one of the largest banks in Saudi Arabia, one of the largest world airlines.

Coming to Newgen, we have S. Sriram global shared services head from Newgen. A veteran with over 30 years of work experience in the shared services and process automation. So today, we would have Gavin discussing about the evolution of the shared services, benefits of implementing shared services and creation of value through shared services. Followed by this, we’ll have Sriram who would be talking about the art and science of low code powering up these shared service centers. At the end of the presentation, we would be taking up the Q and A. We request you to type your questions in this question window of the go to webinar, anytime during the session. And I shall be taking it up towards the end of the session with our respective experts. So with this, I hand it over to Gavin.

Gavin Maxwell:                 Thank you very much and welcome everybody again as well. So yeah, as was mentioned, I guess I’ve spent a bit of my time, both as an advisor around shared services, the strategy and implementation, and also working in shared services as a shared service practitioner. So, both sides of the table and moved to the Middle East roughly 12 years ago and have continued to work in global shared services as well as regional shared services.

Delighted as I am, and thank you to Newgen for the opportunity to be able to speak about some of the experiences that we have from MENA perspective and where MENA is. And some of the other emerging markets relative to maybe global trends itself. I also look after our finance transformation practice for the region and our supply chain practice and as well as intelligent automation. And the idea for those, is because they all do tend to compliment each other as it relates to, from a regional perspective.

Maybe 30 seconds from an EY perspective and then I’ll get into content. We do a lot of shared services globally. Depending on the analysts, we tend to be one of the highest top quartile in terms of what we do around shared services. And that includes going to manage services. A lot of our learnings and some of the things that I will speak about today, are because we run our own shared service organization, which is again, one of the largest standalone shared service organizations in the world. And that has gone through quite an evolution as well in terms of what, as services are run by our shared services to support internally and now, to our external clients as well. So I think we’ve learned a lot along the way that we then bring to life.

The evolution of shared services. So what’s actually happening in terms of, let me just skip this out. Yeah. What’s actually happening. If I look at, there’s a correlation between what’s happening from a technology enablement perspective and where shared services is. What we’ve seen, if we go back to the late 80’s, early 90’s, and it’s still the case today, I mean, it’s an effective way of starting is a single functional shared service activity, and that is finance or HR or procurement, whichever, IT or customer service. Very much focused, typically within a particular region, if you have a global scope and the driver is very much efficiency in driving efficiency gains. We’ve then seen people say, “Okay, that makes sense. I’m comfortable with what that, and how that works. It’s worked for finance, let’s bring in HR or IT as well.” Now, because it’s such a proven model around shared services and I’ll use shared services and global business services almost interchangeably.

If you can see there, we have GBS as more of an evolutionary thought process. It doesn’t necessarily just mean global. It can actually, and I’ll show you in a minute, what I mean by a slightly global end to end view of how operations would run. But multifunctional again, efficiency is very much a driver to it because it is a proven model at this stage. We are seeing organizations who haven’t set up their shared services, leap frog to go straight into that phase as a starting point as well. GBS would be the next area. And that’s where it starts to get interesting. Moving from purely efficiency into now, real effectiveness as well. Looking at single, global process owners. And again, by global, it doesn’t necessarily mean across borders, but it does mean an end to end view within an organization itself.

And we’re starting to see a very consistent service management framework. I would say if we look at, and I’ll pause at the yellow line and just talk about two things. The first one is, within the region itself, we see a lot of shared services, practically speaking, not all of them are in my definition yet. They don’t meet the criteria of shared services. It really is centralized activities. They have the banner of shared services. They have a shared service lead, but if you look behind the covers, they’re not driving what I would expect to be as I’d see in a standard for shared services. And for me, it’s quite simple. It’s around continuous improvement, service management and service governance. If those three aspects are in place, you’re operating a shared service environment, if not, really, it’s a centralized environment. And so, that’s one aspect to do it.

I think the second is, if you look at the enablement, right? The history of shared services, obviously as ERP came in, that made a massive change in terms of being able to centralize activities. We no longer needed to have ledgers, disparate ledgers. And so, that common view helped. Mid 90’s as the internet started to become more effective in terms of its use, we did start to see the start of offshoring activities. So people were focused on wage arbitrage. So I put my teeth in Ireland and setting up shared services in Ireland initially, where Ireland was our gateway to Europe. And a lot of particularly American based, U.S based companies were looking to set up there. That obviously started pushing further and further east. So India, Philippines and Eastern Europe, as it became more practical and cost effective to push services offshore. The outsourcing organizations took off around then as well, to say, well, we can do it better and more efficiently and benefit from larger scale.

And so, that really acted as a capitalist for shared services globally. I would say through the late 90’s, early 2000’s. MENA, not so much. We had slightly different pressures or lack of pressures. A significant push towards keeping jobs onshore, lower labor costs in terms of being able to source people from regions that were close enough to MENA to keep the labor costs down and really, a little bit of gift in terms of oil prices being the way they were, meaning there wasn’t the same shock economically to the system.

If I look at what’s happened, I ran intelligent GBS and really it tied into what the likes of Newgen does. The big jump then I think was around, first of all, robotic process automation, then moving to low code, no code type of activities. And I would say, the best in class, new iterations of ERP. The combination of all of those things has really meant now, instead of needing to say, “I need to take these roles and move them to an offshore center in India,” you can go, “Actually, these roles shouldn’t be done, we should be automating them completely and it makes sense to be able to do it. Technology is now allowing us to make that happen.” And so, that’s what we’re seeing very much around, we’re calling it, IGBS or Intelligent GBS. And so, the services start to expand, the value add, and focus starts to expand, but it really is around digital enablement with digital service management becoming core to that.

And then, I mean, if I look at the aspirational around transformative GPS, that’s very much, and I’ll talk about it in a little while, GPS becoming your innovation engine for the organization. Not a lot of organizations are there yet, but I think that really is the ambition. Couple of comments on the right hand side. If I look at what’s changing now, it is very much around bringing in insight. Very customer centric, whether they’re internal or external customers and really being the heart of the digital transformation itself. So, that’s the change. If I look at what that means under the covers and I won’t drain this slide, but, I think the functional shared services should be known by all. Typically, it is being run by whatever chief, the most senior person within that functional area. And it’s quite typical in the region itself. Multifunctional can be by region, which we’ve seen here and also by function with one single owner, typically reporting to a COO or maybe directly to the CEO, but frequently, still reporting maybe to the CFO or whoever initiated the shared service program to begin with.

Again, very much focused on efficiency. If we look at GBS, you can see now we’re starting to talk about one common approach across the business itself, with global process owners, potentially now as well with centers of excellence being operating. And that is an area again, from a meaner perspective, that is slow. To be honest, the capability in the region still isn’t mature enough that we have those depth of expertise you would expect for real COEs driving value. But it’s rapidly changing like everything else in this region in particular, playing catch up and playing leap frog is, I think, something which is very much, a plan of attack. As you move to more advanced GBS and IGBS, you start to see truly more end to end activities. And so, instead of it just being HR, for example, it’s the finance, it’s the full [inaudible 00:11:35] report cycle, including activities, which would maybe sit into management reporting or some of the typically retained functions. So a broader group.

And again, this is where the centers of excellence change. So, they really are around the enablement of the center itself, rather than delivering services because those services have now become business as usual, as part of the shared service core operations, rather than setting slightly aside as a COE. And the final one that we’re seeing, is almost going to use cases. So if I think about the customer journey and for anybody that’s done a CX type project where you’re looking at what’s the customer journey and how do you provide the right services at the right time? That’s what we’re seeing the final evolution to be. So, if you are a new joiner, the reality is you don’t care about whether something is being delivered by hard to retire and certain things by finance, you need your bank set up, you need your seat in the office, if you’re in the office, your IT provided to you, your access rights, your use case is going across all of those functional areas.

And that’s what we try to pull together then to say, “How do we make sure we have the onboarding?” Which cuts across all of the functional areas. It’s heavily digitally enabled and you can see the focus becomes far more around the value add insight as well. The scope is changing. So, if you can see on the left hand side, they would be the traditional, right? So I think IT and call centers were probably the first two scaled players that started to do a lot of centralized activities and outsourcing activities. Finance probably in terms of captive shared services was probably one of the first and procurement tends to be the business case for all of this, right?

Procurement, the centralized benefits coming with procurement tend to fund a lot of business cases for shared services, but we see them expanding out. So you can see the extended GBS scope. And again, I would say there are a few of those right now that are not taking place across quite a lot of clients within MENA. And then you start to see the leading GBS scope. This is where we get a lot less focus really, whether it’s an environmental health and safety customer insight around, true logistics planning, or risk as part of shared services, there are certainly areas, people are pushing into, legal would be another one that we’re starting to see come in more and more as well. And the interesting thing is, that should continue to expand. If you look at some of the global leaders around GBS, it’s quite an interesting one.

That GBS is actually where quite a lot of the head count sit. Organizations like Proctor and Gamble, or Unilever have a huge GBS organization, which includes things like R&D and manufacturing, which you might consider as their core competencies, and they are, and they sit in GBS. Again, because of that concept of an innovation engine. No business cases work, unless there’s a cost saving on it. And one of my lessons learned is, even if there is no need to demonstrate the value case that’s being created, depending on changes in politics, changes in leadership, changes in market conditions, you frequently get caught out if you don’t have a very strong value case. So the numbers count.

However, in addition to the hard numbers, there are a lot of benefits that we see as a standard. And typically, in some cases, these may be the catalyst for shared services. The first one, and we’re seeing it a lot right now, if I look at somewhere like the Kingdom, where you have very large integration projects, whether it’s in government or private sector and actually allowing the business to focus on the external customer and really operating their core business efficiently, is one of the areas which is certainly a big focus. If I look at the likes of PIF, as they set up new companies on a constant basis, they want the company to focus on whatever the day job is, whether it’s setting up the Red Sea or Niam as an example, and not having to worry about how do I pay my suppliers, that that’s been covered elsewhere.

Continuous improvement is another, as well as standardization. I think optimization, particularly for government, and making sure that you’re using resources efficiently, is another key theme, which may not always drive hard savings, but it does also lead to better engagement from employees. And then data continues to be a major challenge within the region. We’re starting to see a lot of organizations move to the newest ERPs as part of that, trying to fix their data problems. And again, being able to use shared services with data, being owned by shared services for the functional areas that are in scope, another major benefit.

Practically speaking, what are some of the things that I would suggest? To begin with, and it’s not on the slide, I’m finishing a… Well, I’m indefinitely, finishing a PhD on shared services. And the one thing I’ve been looking at is, what allows leading shared service organizations to stay leading over time. Because it’s great to start with a bang, but how do you maintain that in a marathon? Because it’s a continuous journey. And my one line I would say is, the only way to stay relevant is look to make yourself obsolete. And that’s an overwhelming con overarching comment that I would make.

If you’re not looking to remove the work that’s currently being done through automation, through process efficiency, then actually, there will come a point in time when your full organization no longer becomes relevant. And we can see that accounts payable is a prime example. It’s going to shrink to nothing. And some of the newest tools really allow for almost no AP people working in accounts payable as a simple example. Some of the points, the attention points, and again, for those who have gone through some of their shared service journey, this shouldn’t be a surprise. In terms of some of the key success factors, I think we’ve touched on some of those as well. For me, it’s around everything should go into shared services until you justify it why not. I think we’re very slow and hesitant to put in some of the core areas that are going to drive real benefits.

And then I think my last part, if you are thinking about shared services, start to baseline what success looks like right now. So what are the current operational levels and satisfaction levels? Because just like any other major change program, it was always better, once upon a time. And so, you struggle from day one around this. In the old days, we used to have approvals in a day. So, facts are useful as you move forward.

If I move on, next slide, if possible. I don’t know if I can move. So, I think there’s four things I would look at. One of them is, this is the human at the core in terms of everything that’s being done, right? So, shared services or GBS is still very much around, “How do we maximize the benefit that humans bring to the organization itself?” You wanted omnichannel, particularly if anything through COVID, the expectation that people can interact on their phones, on tablets, as well as sitting at their desk or ringing in. So that appetite to be able to engage in multiple different ways becomes important.

On scale and innovation. We’ve talked a lot about, this is all about process efficiency, right? So optimize what you’re trying to do or automate what you’re trying to do and try to pull it together so that you really are a digital service orientated organization. And that, so if we’re starting to see things like low code coming through, to make it just easier and faster to be able to bring in those, to test quickly, to scale fast and to expand out. I think branding and talent becomes very important. This needs to be an organization where your top people are interested in joining, not seen as a back office where people have a limited career opportunity, because if that’s what you’re pitching it up, that’s what you’re going to get.

So, how do you make sure that this does look and feel like a transformation engine within the organization to be able to attract and retain some of your best people? And then performance wise, you do need to get credibility from day one. So, setting expectations, focusing on an area and doing it really well. I always like to try to choreograph success and some big wins that surprise people, go, “Wow, that was a huge benefit I didn’t expect from shared services. What else can you do?” And that change management becomes important as well.

Then I think the final slide, there are numerous new tools out there to try and support, right? So, if I think about, and we’re going to hear from Newgen on the platform in a second, but if we move to the next slide, one of the things is just making sure you have insight, right? Sorry. So, our building blocks that we use as the transformation engine for GBS. So I’ve talked about customer centricity, agility in the past, focusing on value and driving efficiency. There are three pillars that we use on that. First of all, is end to end processes and linked to that, how do you drive automation associated with that? Whether it’s next generation ERPs, intelligent automation, low code type activities. And then from an organizational perspective, how do you organize and drive transformation and the rest of the things, I’ll leave you read there around the enablers to it. But it’s not magic, but they’re the foundations that now drive it as a transformation engine. I would say, make sure that you’ve got the opportunity to grow and not have it constrained by the mission and the vision of shared services itself.

And then if we go to the final slide this time. There are amazing tools out there right now. So, IPD is one which EY used, we built for our shared services and it does process mapping, uses machine learning to start building the actual process that are being run and looking at downtime efficiencies, abilities to automate. Those kinds of things as you’re running shared services, allow you to start to say, “Where do I want to focus? Where do I apply no code type of solutions to? And how do I make sure that people, particularly in a virtual world, people are efficient in terms of how they’re run?” That’s not the only tool on the market that does that kind of a thing. There are a number of others like that, but it’s that inside combined with other tools, maybe like service management, a service now for service management, you start to get a nice blend of enabling technologies.

With that, a big, thank you. I’ll hang on and answer questions at the end, if you have any of them. But as I look at the enabling technologies piece, maybe it’s a nice transition across to talking about low code and how that starts to change the system dynamic in shared services as we move forward. So, thank you very much and I’ll hand over now.

Sriram: Yeah. Hi, Glitty. Good morning. You’re able to see my screen?

Glitty Paul:                          Yes.

Sriram: Okay. Let me go ahead. Very good morning, everyone. Once again, I thank you all for joining our webinar today. I will continue on the great content of Gavin and orient my flow towards setting expectations and solutionizing based on the digital imperatives. As said by Gavin, many of the shared services have been set up based on the traditional practice of cost saving and more of back office functions. However, it is time for them to move through various maturity levels to attain the GBS 2.0 vision as explained clearly, by giving Gavin.

Gavin also spoke about how shared service centers will focus on key business areas to scale up and attain their vision. The leaders in this space have taught us on how to be more resilient. They have also taught us being effective today, and also improve the service line to be more relevant for tomorrow and be part of the strategic importance to any organization.

The focus of shared services have changed over the years. The current focus is more towards customer or stakeholder outcomes, be agile and responsive, and also deliver anytime, anywhere value. Shared services have to ship from the current functional or departmental based back office as was explained by Gavin as well, to more of organization and holistic service centers, addressing wide range of enabled services. Currently, they are all fragmented and more of silos of automations as Gavin said about the individual functional heads who are driving these processes, but it’s more of moving out of these functional fragmented process silos to more open organizational end business process automation.

The new age technologies have also pushed applications from a mere data management to content enabled and or, driven applications. In today’s world, content plays a definitive role and drives the organizational and functional aspects. It’s all about integrated processes. Integration between people, process and things where we talk about data and content going together to complete the process automation perspectives. Shared services need to keep transitioning from one maturity level to other and keep adding value to the stakeholders. Every maturity stage is linked to outcomes that are driven through technology innovations, starting from being effective through first time right and 100% digitalization. Then moving on to agility of services, then to scalability for business and finally, establishing market leadership and be a pioneer to other aspiring candidates makes the progression of shared services deliver direct value to the stakeholders as well as the customer’s customer. The key here is to ensure a digitally driven operational environment for sustainability, scalability and resilience. I think Gavin spoke about this a lot as part of his presentation as well.

What is needed to move upwards, in the maturity value chain is data. A data that is meaningful and can be classified as information. Set of information that could be used to analyze and strategize improvements and remote [inaudible 00:26:56] links. Information relating to anything that happens is important. Right from the activity, to series of activities as part of the business transaction and not limited to overall organization.

Information that can be split and coined based on the standard operating procedures or SOPs as we call them, to help us understand on what is going on, how it is being done, who is doing it, when was it done and how was it done and much more than that, helps in getting an analytical information based on the end to end audit train, or the audit data that has been captured as part of the entire business process, which enables the business drivers and outcomes to be displayed or visualized in a much better way. Which help us in optimizing the business processes, the way we work, transform the way we work, bring in better user experience, make the process more efficient through automation, make it more reactive and proactive so that no element is missed out because of human errors, as well as work on suggestive models so that enabled working in environment can be established, so that the risks of processing can be brought down.

The human risk particularly, can be brought down in such a way that many of the reconciliations that we do, later part of the processing can be much, much reduced as part of the suggestive and proactive and the reactive processing. The about data only helps us… I’m sorry. The about data only helps us to visualize all the KPIs and KREs of our processing that helps us in visualizing and taking corrective actions as well as improvement factors to ensure that we move up the value chain as part of the overall maturity curve of [inaudible 00:28:59] services.

Every organization has its own implementation of applications and systems to the need of business. Most of them are the types of data management like ERP. If you look from reducing risks and increasing compliance as part of audit, every transaction is supposed to follow the laid down standard operating procedures, which is what is the [inaudible 00:29:27] portion for the auditors, to look at non compliances, okay? The relative alignment of ERP through the standard operating procedures, our SOPs, are subjective. In order to understand this better, if you take any business flow or transaction and try to map from an origination to submission and beyond, we may find that only certain activities are performed on the ERP interfaces and many are outside, either in some other application, or some of them are even manual tasks, which are done on the desks of the users.

Also, if you look at the technology advancements and the way we conduct business, there is hardly any transaction without a document or content. Gone are the days when data used to drive transactions. It is more of content driven these days. So the emphasis has moved from traditional linear workflows to digital complex business processes. This requires extended capabilities beyond what data oriented applications are meant for. This brings us to an interesting topic on how low code can help us in achieving the design objectives. These extended capabilities beyond the typical data driven workflow helps us in exploring newer possibilities. A low code platform helps in faster realization of simple to complex business processes, including content enablement. Low code helps in automating origination to submission and beyond automations, by inheriting the existing application functions and creating new interfaces for manual tasks. This means, no task is outside the digital framework.

Since also activities are on the digital framework, a clear visibility and analytics based information helps in better visibility, faster and better decision making. What by exception, becomes a routing exercise through inbuilt diverse discrepancy management? More of auto processing and human touch for exceptions. A detailed view of who did what, when, how, on activities, like we spoke in the earlier slide gets automatically enabled, ensuring compliance to SOPs, thus reducing the non-compliances and the risks.

Increased visibility on the turnaround time helps in optimizing and bringing efficiency into the overall process. Not the least, that digitalization creates an orchestration on top of applications, bringing in natural umbrella of seamless business processing. In fact, this was also presented by Gavin, as part of the leadership thought process. And particularly for SSCs, the low code helps in driving the customer outcomes, agility and anytime value. We will look into some of the scenarios in subsequent slides on what we are talking about as part of the low code based automations.

Customer of stakeholder outcomes have largely been dynamic and changes based on the market dynamics. SSEs have to transform and adapt themselves to ever changing needs of business. SSEs have to transform themselves from a mere cost saving center to shouldering business goals, be strategic and be part of the end customer journey. Digital transformation is a strategic and visionary catalyst for maturing the shared services from wherever it is to the market leadership, as part of the GPS 2.0 vision that Gavin spoke about.

Digital transformation needs multiple thought leadership to excel in their space and focus on key deliverables to progress. The thought leadership should work on addressing the strategic, tactical and operational aspects of the service delivery model. Tactical imperative focuses on business orchestration, intimate digitalization, process efficiency and insightful operational activities. Strategic imperative on the first hand focuses on cost efficiency, service quality, transforming user experiences, and be future ready for digital innovation. Where the last one, the operational imperative, focuses on process excellence like straight through processing, first time right scenarios, touch-less scenarios, multi-skilling and the likes of productivity and process excellence.

Having said that, business processes varies from simple data flows to complex rule and content enabled business scenarios. We all know that right today, as I said, lot of content enabled processes are part of the shared service. In fact, many of them, 90% of the automations in shared services are somehow, touching the content part of it. Right? So another angle to look for, is within the department focused workflows, which we spoke about the functional workflow to enterprise-wide business processes. All these are well automated by the digital technologies or digital automation tools that help in bringing better user experience and omnichannel experience faster to adapt using low code frameworks and much more, based on the cloud and also the governance and the audit and compliance part of it. A true digital transformation or automation platform addresses all needs of an organization, right from end customer experience to core business automation.

Plenty of modules support end to end strategic automation and these modules adapt to support the overall objectives of process automation. Along with local capabilities, NewgenOne platform also embeds process modeling, data modeling, robotic automation for non-integrable scenarios, a huge insight into analytics, business rule support for auto computations and coming out with enable the decisions. Along with that, a simulation for various business scenarios, along with that, a enabled content management, strong AI and ML capabilities for various versus automation requirements and many other features along with the seamless integration that helps not only in end to end automation, but also, scale the shared services beyond where we are today to more of a leadership and being a leader as part of the business imperatives that we’ll talk about in the subsequent slides.

The key to achieve a true digital automation is not just creating a sequential or parallel business processes. It is much more than that. Processing by exception, helps in less touch or low touch processing. Digital automation also helps in seamless end-to-end automation, including omnichannel initiation, which we typically do this as part of our automations. Content extraction, in built a delegation of authority metrics in case of approvals, and also, realtime integration for transaction push and pull. Along with the comprehensive audit, we are able to churn out lot of dashboards for operational business and technology areas. However, this is more of a linear workflow automation that really takes care of the digital part. However, it is more of linear because these are the standard offerings for any shared services from a basic requirement. What is needed is, how do we scale up? How do we utilize the digital technologies in such a way that they enable us to be better, smarter and intelligent?

Low-code also adds value beyond traditional workflow automation. Through its extensive modules, it enables analytical or intelligent processing through various enhancements. And these enhancements are more from a AI, ML perspective, as well as based on the, sorry, trend analysis and historical analytics perspectives. Some examples. It could be [inaudible 00:38:12] duplication check for exact and possible matches to profiling the historical trends of the processing. A much more enhanced version of automation could be a prescriptive and predictive processing that enables sanity check beyond the traditional, transactional data validations. Some example could be, even though my transactional validations are passing through, I may still look at the straight through processing historical trend analysis of a particular vendor and decide whether, even if this invoice is having all the validations passed, still, if the straight through processing of the past say 100 or 1,000 transactions have not been about 80%, I will still require one round of manual check before I do the processing of the invoice. Could be one of them, right.

Or it could be the historical first time right kind of scenarios. I get an invoice. I never had a problem with this. The day I receive, I’m able to process that invoice from that vendor. It could be that. Or it could be more a business related criteria, which we can define to say that, even if all these parameters are coming to, still, I will add more validations or rule saying that if it is a Capex invoice and or it is more than X million dollars, I will still want to have a human touch. Whereas for all the predictive areas, I want to go ahead and do the touch-less processing so that I don’t need to waste my time on the irrelevant or unskilled activities. It helps us in moving from working by exception. So the prescriptive and projective processing is, what area that a digital tool can enable? Where in NewgenOne, we have been implementing this as part of many of our client implementations.

As a use case, let me also describe how a low code can go beyond the traditional workflow design and helping an intelligent process automation. We all know how invoice process works. In this scenario, let me talk about an all automated activity or step by step based processes. To start with, a multichannel injection module that intakes invoices from emails, portals, any other integration channels or other services and or scanned physical documents through a mail room concept. Any of these input channels can be taken up. Can be initiated into the workflow. The smart initiation module automatically picks files from the source, classifies and pushes for further action, including sending to manual value verification, in case if it has not detected an invoice. So all these are part of the intelligent document processing modules.

A detailed reconciliation based on the source of invoice to processing and beyond will help in better vendor management. As long as we are able to give everyday report to the vendor saying the number of invoices received, through what channel, what stage it is in and what is the current status of it helps in better vendor experience and also, reduces the number of touch points with our vendors on the status of the invoices. And content extraction obviously has always been the most sought after and for many, the most disappointing factor. While the courses can be debated, what is required is a more intelligent extraction tool that can pull data using multiple engines, do an automatic [inaudible 00:41:54] based on the confidence levels between them and bring the best of the values. The usage of multiple engines and auto is like a team play that helps in coordinated effort to bring the best of the results, right?

And of course the validations, as the results are superior, the field data also becomes mirror accurate catching up on the loan checklist of validations through seamless interface, helps in faster and better confirmation on the compliance and risk elements. A strong validation logic helps in ensuring seamless posting. And as I said earlier, knowing that 95% of the time, we approve the invoices without checking, it makes sense to auto approve those invoices by the system, than doing it manually and saving the precious time of those managers and heads of functions.

Given the human mindset, few caveats can be included based on ML to indicate that even the pre-validated invoices need not mandately go through the auto posting model. This could be, as I said earlier, could be based on the value or batch straight through processing of the vendor or the historic past or something else based on the business criteria that we could send. Knowing the invoice is perfect and has passed approval, it makes sense to post silently to the ERP without again, the human intervention. Any error in the posting can get identified as part of the response from ERP and pushed for manual correction and repost.

Through this model, a lot of human effort and hence time can be saved. This human time can be spent on other skilled activities. Perhaps a hybrid approach of posting silently based on some business criteria could also be enabled. The payment update and [inaudible 00:43:44] can be done automatically for reporting purposes subsequently, right?

I said earlier, work by exception can become the norm of the day. While the automated tasks help us in touch-less processing. Any exception, any discrepancy found at any stage of the process, can push that with a notification and a pre-warning alert to the respective users on the discrepancies form, through the exception framework. And those discrepancies can be resolved by the respective stakeholder and can be pushed back into the automated flow so that we can achieve more and more touch-less processing and straight through processing as part of our automation.

I said earlier, maturity is a slow and steady process. Testing waters and correcting costs is important to reduce the risks of large scale transformation. Many of the shared services in our implementations have migrated from being effective to leadership through continuous process improvements and have been successful. What is needed is a tool to go through the transition journey. As said by Gavin, process discovery or other continuous process discovery and improvements will keep the shared services relevant, always. Digital transformation using products like NewgenOne delivers tangible and intangible benefits that help shed services in scaling and being relevant always. Many of the parameters, the KPIs and KREs of shared services are what you see on the tangible and the intangible part and how to achieve them are inbuilt as part of these process automation framework that we are talking about.

The capability of NewgenOne scales beyond traditional shared service automation to cater to enterprise automation. This gives an edge for enterprises to amortize the, sorry, investments, and look for a holistic end-to-end digital transformation within the organization that helps in customer experience as well. It may not be just the procure to pay [inaudible 00:46:00] automation. It can go beyond that into HR and also to the enterprise level automation, which includes any function, any department automation, or even could be a process where it could be a content driven automation or merely for content archival and retrieval purposes.

To conclude, NewgenOne enables shared services to become digital and be value driven, agile, virtual and holistic. NewgenOne brings continuous improvements through technology advances year on year and help shared services drive strategic vision of the organizations. With this, I conclude my presentation. I hope the information shared by both of us has been informative and relevant to you. Do get in touch with us for any further information and our clarifications. Thank you. I hand it over back to Glitty for the next agenda.

Glitty Paul:                          Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Sriram and it was indeed very informative and it was also nice to know regarding how Newgen low code platform encompasses, just know the shared services processes. However, can be looked as a platform for enterprise wide process automation. So great. So with this, we move to the last segment, which is the Q and A. So, let me just take up the questions which have come up today. So, the first question is for Gavin, and the question is, what are the key drivers that are pushing the shared services agenda in the MENA region?

Gavin Maxwell:                 So I think we’re seeing a lot of… I think I touched on it briefly, a lot of integration across clients. If I look at, in the Kingdom, if you look at water as an example in the Kingdom, it’s all coming together under one entity. Health is looking to move towards corpotization and privatization. So, I think we’re starting to see very large entities transform in the Kingdom, aligned with vision 2030. In the UAE associated with the drive from a government perspective towards shared services and efficiency. And obviously, from a private sector perspective, we’re also starting to see pressures for the first time, really in the region around cost, right? The COVID and the oil prices really did have people I think, step up and go, “I need to do something different.” And the ability to work remotely, which everybody needed to do overnight, demonstrated the fact that having your own finance and HR and procurement sitting outside your door is no longer the way that it needs to be run.

So, I think we’ve seen the perfect storm of a real economic requirement from a private sector, with the demonstration, it can be done. And in the public sector, again, the same in terms of value to citizens, but also, major integration work as well. And as people then say, “Okay, I’m bringing together 15 different entities. How do I do this right?” It becomes quite sensible then to say, “Well, 15 HR departments doesn’t sound like a good idea. Let’s start to start exploring shared services.” So I would say, I’ve seen more activity shared services in the last 12 months in the region, than I have for the last 12 years in the region.

Glitty Paul:                          True. True. Thank you so very much, Gavin. Next question is for Sriram. The question is, “How will the low code benefit post go live or after operationalizing the shared service centers?”

Sriram: I’m sorry. I was mute. Yeah. A good well thought about query. I said during the presentation, continuous process discovery and change management is the key for shared services being relevant for today and tomorrow, right? If you add to this, whenever we try to do changes or whenever we get new ideas for bringing in a change to increase the efficiency or the productivity as part of the processes, the first thing that we want to do is try out something. Now, if I try to do something to increase the efficiency, even if I want to reduce the process timing from say five minutes to one minute for a particular activity, if I want to reduce it by even a one minute, I have to try out. Now, how do I try out?

If I have to do a lot of coding to bring down the time from four, five minutes to four minutes, I will have to spend a design, development, UID and a lot of other factors which will have to do, before I can operationalize it, whether that idea and the cost towards that makes sense, we don’t know. So, what is more important here is, how do I try out my small, small ideas that keep popping up as part of my operational environment? How do I operationalize my innovative ideas that keep coming? The best way is low code. Because the time you take to institutionalize these small, small ideas, it’s much, much faster. It could be even a day. It could be even an hour, to try out how it works and operationalize it. That means, the time that we spend and the relevance of those ideas to the market dynamics also makes sense if we are trying to use a low code, because I don’t need to code, number one. I don’t need to wait for specialized, skilled developers to come and do those activities for me.

If my business stakeholders are empowered to do those changes as part of the low code platform, then they can do those operationalization of those tools or ideas and make it faster and execute it in the shortest possible time and make it up and running. So that makes cost effective as well as time to go to market also, becomes much, much faster for them. So the low code really helps in faster realization of the new ideas and ensure that we are on track towards the maturity rise. Right? This is one way of explaining that, maybe Gavin, if you have any other aspects to add to that, you help me on that.

Gavin Maxwell:                 Yeah. I mean, the whole idea of shared services is continuous improvement at its core. And so, there is no end to a shared service journey, really. And so that, to your point, the ability to continue to become agile, prototype and scale, and without a significant cost involved, makes a lot of sense. A lot of shared service organizations have challenged with investment as well, right? So we didn’t talk about what kind of a chargeback model you have and whether it’s a cost cost plus, whether you keep some of the savings to reinvest. So, the likelihood of being able to engage in very expensive development without a clear business case is very difficult to get funding around as well. So, again, what you do need is that ability to fail fast, fail forward, but in a way that isn’t going to eat up all of your budget. So again, low code type of platforms give that opportunity, right? To be able to play around, pivot and then scale.

Sriram: Yeah. Gavin, thank you for adding that up. I forgot one thing in that. Even if you take any idea that comes in, we have to prototype them and visualize them. Unless visualization is there, expectation mismatch could be there. So, whenever we are trying to code anything, the visualization factor is missing. And because of that, what happens is, when we realize what has happened, when we get the final delivery, after the coding is completed, we find that it is completely way off the mark than what we had visualized, right? So the expectation mismatch happens because of the coding factor, which is removed through continuous prototyping as part of the low code frameworks. That’s an important aspect of low code in the change management. Yeah. Glitty, back to you.

Glitty Paul:                          Thank you. Thank you Sriram and thanks Gavin for that. The next question is for Gavin. And the question goes as, “How does outsourcing play into changes in operating model for shared services?”

Gavin Maxwell:                 Thanks for that. Well, I mean, for me, I think there’s an aspect of making sure you know what the right operating model is for you first, and then, whether you outsource the make or buy is very much then, almost a strategic sourcing type of a question. So, what’s the right answer? And then, do I have the right capabilities to do it myself? I do see, particularly within, I touched on it, but particularly within newer generations of technology, a lot of things which we would’ve traditionally said, we’ll give this and we’ll move it to an outsource provider who will use offshore to do things at a cheaper rate, may not actually be the most sensible thing to do. And we’re starting to see a lot of organizations globally, take back activities that had been outsourced and actually automate them instead and keep the value internally.

So, that’s certainly what I would look at. First of all, would be, what is my right answer? Do I need in the short term potentially, to leverage outsourcing? What does that look like as well for my automation journey? And do I, at some stage, pull that back in and to be fair to the outsourcing providers, a lot of them are very part and parcel of that now, to just have dual gain share. So both organizations benefit from the automation journey. It isn’t just the outsourcer automating it and taking all of the benefits. So I think that’s useful as well. There are challenges, obviously with regards to, again, if I go MENA wise, the outsourcing environment is still very immature here. And particularly, if there’s a need to have strong bi-lingual capabilities, Arabic speaking capabilities, that’s not always at the levels you’d like at the price point you would like. So there’s a challenge associated with that.

There’s the political aspect of saying a lot of the larger outsourcers still have most of their delivery capability outside of the region. And so, that may not always work politically within the organization as well. That being said, there is the expectation that they will deliver. And so, there’s almost underwritten guarantee of performance levels, which in some areas, may help as you start to scale. But I think, in general, it’s something that could be used as a crutch it’s after, what you want to do yourself. So it’s a make or buy decision once what your answer is. And I do think a lot of the time it is, would automation be able to remove the need to have an outsourcing partner so that I keep the value rather than giving it away or sharing it. So, it’s an interesting time for outsourcing. Not sure it’s a spectacular time for outsourcing. I think automation may kill outsourcing to be honest, in the medium term, but in the short term, it may be what people need to give themselves a catalyst or boost to their shared service journey itself.

Glitty Paul:                          Wonderful. Thanks. Thanks Gavin. That was indeed very nice and very well put. The next question is for Sriram and the question goes, “Is it a requirement to receive physical invoice in UAE? Can we do with digital invoices?”

  1. Sriram: Ah, okay. So this depends on the regulatory framework in UAE. I’m not currently aware about that as part UAE, but a lot of people have exception during these COVID times, to do away with the physical document, which means, we can get the digital documents and process them and keep it as a record, but I’m sure, maybe Gavin can help me. I’m not sure because you are based out of UAE. Glitty, you can help me understand or maybe Gavin, on whether the regulatory requirements help us in doing away with the physical documents in UAE, particularly.

Gavin Maxwell:                 Yeah. I think there isn’t a need anymore. It depends on the area, but we’re seeing that regulation no longer being pushed through. The same time, you do need to be able to form a UA tax authority perspective, still have the ability to pull them back in if the tax authorities do connect. So, one of the challenges we’ve seen with other countries and, it’s still in general, tax, because the main driver for invoicing is tax, right. And the physical invoices and the tax authorities being able to come and getting their hands on that data.

And so, I do think it’s important to understand where your servers are sitting, where data is being stored, how simple it is to retrieve it in a local country, in the UAE, as an example. The regulations do continue to change. So around payments, it’s still very clunky in the region. It’s still not end to end, particularly transfers at external, outside of cross-border transfers because of money laundering, an anti-terrorism type of constraints as well. So, it is what I would say, as you’re looking at going down the journey, confirm that, both how you’re issuing the invoice and where you’re storing it, meets the requirements, but also, the other side of it, the payments are covered as well, particularly if it goes cross border.

  1. Sriram: I think e-invoicing has to be mandated before we do away with the physical documents and KSA, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has started the invoicing as a mandate, maybe at a very [inaudible 01:00:16] stage now, but rest of the Middle East is yet to catch up on the e-invoicing part.

Gavin Maxwell:                 Well, Qatar has kicked off their program for e-invoicing as well, so they’re playing catch up quite quickly. The UAE has a program in place as well, that isn’t… So, you’re right. I think the GCC will all move into e-invoicing government wise and where it’s got. I mean, we tend to be government led in the region here. And so, as government moves forward for those kinds of advances, there’s an expectation private sector certainly wouldn’t be behind.

Glitty Paul:                          Thanks. Thanks. I’m afraid we have gone beyond the time. However, if it’s okay, can we take one more question as a closing question? Would that be okay?

Sriram: Yep.

Gavin Maxwell:                 Sure.

Glitty Paul:                          Thanks. Thanks. This question is for Gavin. So, what are the challenges do you foresee with MENA region each adapt to the pure model of shared services?

Gavin Maxwell:                 Sorry, can you repeat? I missed the second half of it.

Glitty Paul:                          So the question goes, saying that, what are the challenges that you foresee in particularly in MENA region [inaudible 01:01:28] to adapt to the pure model of shared services?

Gavin Maxwell:                 Sure. So I think there’s an aspect of, what we don’t know, we don’t know. So if I was to look at a mature region, so if I go back, so Ireland, for example, as I said, is very advanced around shared services and marketed itself for shared services for years. If you are a government minister sitting in Ireland, you have significant examples all around you, of very, very large GBS or shared service operations running very efficiently for decades. Here, we don’t. Right? So, the ecosystem of business leaders and political leaders, when you look around, as I said, where there is shared services, it hasn’t really been shared services. In most cases, it’s been centralized. So you don’t have those easy reference cases that make top decision making simple.

I think the second part is, back to the point I mentioned around the business case, there’s a reluctance, obviously if you’re a government organization as an example, to let head count go. As part of those integrations that I spoke about, that are either government led or government enabled, there’s an expectation people will still have a job at the end of it. And so, actually, a shared service business case that has a 20 or 30% headcount reduction isn’t politically palatable. So if you say, “Okay, we’re going to keep them and redeploy them.” Unless you have a clear reason for why you’re redeploying them, the business case doesn’t start the stack up.

I think we’ve also seen one of the challenges for low code, for RPA, for any of the automation type activities is, at times you don’t see the scale that makes it worthwhile. So, if you go to an organization, if you take a global bank that’s looking at shared services and has a thousand people and accounts payable, and then you go to an organization here that is for, it’s a big challenge to say, “Well, the automation makes sense. The shared services make sense.” So I think the business case is a real challenge. Thus, the reason procurement becomes really important if you can get that in as well. So, that would be another one, I think.

I think the perception to say, shared services equals offshoring and outsourcing, is another mindset change that needs to happen. And again, I think automation is the answer to that. As we start to say, actually, it doesn’t need to go offshore, it just needs to be eliminated. We’ll just automate it, not eliminate, we’ll automate it. And so, I think that’s going to be important as well. Politics remains so key. So I think when we have the integrations, it’s no different than MENA to anywhere else in the world, but being able to make sure that you start the journey, think big, start small, scale fast. I think that’s going to be key as well. So those would be some of the main ones.

I’ve mentioned before, talent is a challenge in the region around shared services. And we’ve seen it, India is a perfectly example, right? I mean, it still is. I was going to say, when it was set up initially, but it’s the same today. There’s such a demand for shared service skills that you see people hopping across organizations rapidly. So attrition becomes a problem. The cost continues to rise. So you move from primary cities to secondary cities, to tertiary cities, just because you can’t get that savings in cost. We’re going to see the same in MENA, I think, because we don’t have the skills here.

So the initial wave may be importing a lot of expats, which sounds counterintuitive if you want to try and create and drive localization as well. But particularly for those centers of excellence, for people with real depth of continuous improvement skills in shared services, and even for running at the management layers of shared services, we don’t have a lot of examples of big mature systems or organizations in the region.

So I think that skills gap is going to be a challenge as well. Which again, will only [inaudible 01:05:19]. I mean, EY, we’re looking at setting up a shared service academy in the Kingdom to start trying to recognize the fact those skills aren’t there. How do we start building those skills up? So, as those types of initiatives start to happen, that will slowly I think, get fixed as well. But, I think the key is the shared services are here to stay in the region. And I think, we’re now at the start of a really exciting wave of shared service transformation. And I think it’s important to not set up a shared services like it looked like in the 1990s, set it up, like it can be now. So, digitally native shared services is the way to go. So yeah. Look at the technologies that are available and build that into your operating model day one, rather than assuming you’re going to get there in five or 10 years time, because you’ll need that for the business case to work [inaudible 01:06:08].

Glitty Paul:                          Thanks very much. [inaudible 01:06:14] Thank you so very much Gavin and Sriram for putting a very engaging session.. Thanks again to the audience for their gracious time and participation. Please feel free to write to us. Thanks again Gavin and Sriram. And to the audience, have a great day.

Gavin Maxwell:                 Thank you. Good bye.

Glitty Paul:                          Thank you and good day. Yeah, bye-bye.