BlackLine Blog

January 12, 2021

Avoid the 80/20 Rule in RPA & AI Implementation

Modern Accounting
2 Minute Read

Michael Shultz

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We’ve all been there at some point: you finish implementing new software and plan to explore it fully “as soon as you can.” But if we’re honest, sometimes that day never comes. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the business of the day-to-day, and despite our best intentions, never really learn how to use new solutions to their full capacity.

Over the years, various interpretations of the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, have been applied to business problems, including productivity and time management. One popular application is using it as shorthand for this tendency to underutilize the features built into the software solutions we use every day: 80% of the time, we’re probably only using 20% of the features of a given program.

If you’re the person who is investing in new software solutions, you’re probably also invested in making sure that people are using the full functionality of the tools you’re provided. Otherwise, what’s the point?

When it comes to advanced features like RPA and AI, the stakes are even higher. The increased efficiency automation brings to an organization is only realized if the organization is actually aware of and using the advanced features.

In fact, according to a survey of finance and accounting professionals recently completed by Capstone Insights, respondents who rated themselves as very familiar with their organization’s processes were nearly 30% more likely to report AI or RPA usage.

In this case, familiarity clearly brings adoption, not contempt. But how can you make sure your organization is using the advanced accounting features you’re paying for?

Don’t Treat the End of Implementation as the Finish Line

When implementation is complete, there is a tendency to “set it and forget it.” That may serve you well for the first few quarters, but your automation scheme should be reviewed and adjusted regularly so you can test new strategies and continue to optimize your RPA features.

If your automation is not responsive enough to easily incorporate a new division or line of business, you could be setting yourself up for underperformance. Automation needs to grow and change with your organization in order to deliver optimal results.

Take Advantage of the Vendor’s Support Team

Think about the way software is introduced to your employees. It’s probably an all-day seminar with a catered lunch and lots of time to experiment with new tools. But a new hire three years later might get handed a dusty training binder, or worse, nothing at all.

Many software providers have opportunities for both continuing education and new hire orientation, so take advantage of what they have to offer. At BlackLine, for instance, we offer a guided 60- to 90-day implementation, including role-based training and continuing education opportunities for employees.

Consider Using an Implementation Expert

Our implementation partners have seen it all. They can identify opportunities for automation that you may not have thought of on your own, they know the roadblocks to be aware of, and they can provide expert guidance to connect advanced features to your business needs.

If only those with deep familiarity are aware of the advanced technologies available to your organization, chances are good that the features are underutilized.Clear communication is critical for every level of your finance and accounting departments, especially those within larger, more complex organizations where information flow and training needs may not be immediately obvious.

Read the full Capstone Insights report to discover where organizations are reporting the largest gaps in F&A performance and strategies for improving organizational effectiveness, transparency, and collaboration.

About the Author


Michael Shultz