What is our primary use case?
The primary use case is to start with all Record to Report Processes within our FSSU, automating critical processes.
This solution processes Record to Report (R2R), Order to Cash (O2C), and Procure to Pay (P2P) tasks. We started with engaging with Redwood right from Proof of Concept, Product Selection, Training, and Pilot Implementation. Redwood did an excellent job.
Unlike other automation tools, Redwood has a unique space in finance automation, where standard SAP modules are used for automating every step in the process, quickly and easily.
Right from identifying processes based on certain key parameters that would bring value-add, you could call it low hanging fruit.
The process of selection, process analysis (documenting using SIPOC process), and then designing the solution which then went into pilot implementation and full-scale implementation of the processes, was quick and easy.
Training from Redwood went a long way, as we learned to appreciate the product and its features. They were hand-holding the technical team on the pilot implementation and at every phase of the automation process. The testing and the Hypercare stages stabilized the BOT execution.
Handover to the Support and Operations team was good enough for on-boarding the Operations team along with the knowledge transfer.
How has it helped my organization?
To be honest, initially, we had glitches comparing the output from BOT execution with the Manual Execution. Identifying the issues and rectifying them took some time. This again gave way to process improvements, data quality issues, and compliance issues that we managed to fix during the process.
Though the process runs only on specific RUN DAYS within every month, the process and the BOT execution has improved a lot.
Parallel execution of a number of processes has improved. All manual posting issues are taken care of, leaving no room for human errors while posting financial transactions within the systems.
What is most valuable?
The out-of-the-box finance modules within the Redwood Finance framework help to speed up the process, versus designing and writing generic BOT code.
The only time that it took was to perform the process analysis, identifying steps, and mapping the steps within the BOT code.
Testing was done from the Redwood team on a system with test data (masked) before rolling it out for user acceptance testing and Hypercare execution.
What needs improvement?
This is a tricky question, but certainly, some improvements are definitely needed in the template-based approach and modularity of design. Mapping the process steps to an existing R2R process quickly would be a definite step forward.
Testing, logging, and reporting accurately on a dashboard for any issues during execution will help to identify issues early. As the RUN DATES are only two to five days every month, identifying issues and fixing them should be quick and easy.
Compliance is a major factor, as financial processes are always on compliance audit for issues in processing critical financial data and legal ramifications.
For how long have I used the solution?
For close to three years, we have been successfully using Redwood for Automating Critical Finance Processes in all our SSUs.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It is quite stable and has no issues with memory leaks or the BOT being unresponsive. In fact, I am quite impressed with how one can choose the step in the process from where the BOT can start execution.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The solution is scalable, there is no doubt about it. Purely based on how the infrastructure is set up, which again is based on the number of processes, the number of transactions, the number of BOTs, RUN DAYS, and the sharing of BOT time for multiple processes.
Definitely, Redwood has a standard sizing plan for infrastructure and BOT setup.
How are customer service and technical support?
Customer support and technical support are good, with the standard ITSM process using a ticketing system. Response time is good but can be improved.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We did try other automation toolsets earlier, but then the generic full code development took the fun away from most of the standardized finance processes. We were looking out for an automation product that understands standardized finance processes and the backend SAP systems.
The switch to Redwood happened quickly and on time, without spending too much time on a full code BOT tool.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was quick, easy, and straightforward. With the Redwood team supporting, the infrastructure setup provided the standard design including the hardware and server requirements.
Initially, we expected the automated process to be up and running within a span of two months. However, as the processes were critical and some compliance issues had to be sorted out, getting it right took some time.
What about the implementation team?
We went through Redwood itself, helping us from concept to rollout. The level of expertise was high. We had the best team at our disposal for all of the setup, process analysis, requirements, design and development, and testing and rollout.
What was our ROI?
This is where the real challenge is, having a licensing cost that needs to be compared with the existing manual operational cost and coming up with a competitive licensing and pricing model. ROI will be well defined during the start of the process.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
To an extent, there is a definite cost involved in terms of setting up the right infrastructure and the licensing model. This needs a good discussion on the licensing and pricing model, which can be worked out for the larger benefit of the enterprise.
The licensing was purely based on the number of transactions being processed in production.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We were already into automating customer back-office operations for about 21 critical processes and saw the need to look at the finance processes. We expected this to bring value-add in terms of automating standard finance processes.
We did a few automations using Blue Prism and it was a success, but the real success was discovered only with Redwood.
What other advice do I have?
I think this product is the right fit for finance processes that are very standard but definitely, a proper licensing model will go a long way for the adoption of Redwood for SME, and large enterprises as well.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?