Exclusive Interview with Cindy Pauls, Director of Shared Services, Borden Dairy Company
If you’re more of a video person, go ahead and watch the video below to see what Cindy Pauls has to say. If reading is more your thing, skip the video and hop straight to the transcript below!
Q: How do you measure the value you contribute to the business?
A: I'll tell you, I can measure that by having the field actually come to us with questions. So when I first got there three years ago, we were not a valued added organization. And so, it's been very important over the past three years, to come up with ways that we can add value to all of the different areas of the business. And now we're the go to place for any questions or services that they need. So anything that falls out that they need help with, they come to us. And that's how I calculate that.
Q: What do you think is the main challenge with talent today? How are you overcoming it?
A: In the Dallas market, we've got a three to four percent unemployment rate, which makes it very very difficult to find talent. So what we're finding is, we're getting people that have no experience at all. Anybody that has experience, they're getting gobbled up very quickly. So to find somebody with any experience has been difficult and so we're bringing people in and having to train them from the ground up. And that has cost to it. So that's our biggest challenge right now.
Q: What’s the number one thing that your customers want from you? How are you working to deliver on that request?
A: The biggest thing that my customers want from us is communication. So, like I mentioned, when I first got there we were not a value added organization and the biggest way we have added value was just by communicating. Letting people know what we can do for them, and how we can do it, and then providing that service.
Q: How do you benchmark your operation to find out where the opportunities are?
A: We do a lot of KPI metrics. And so, for example, in my Accounts Payable section, when I first go there, we were running approximately 600 invoices per person per month. And just by going through all of the processes, taking those processes, breaking them down into little chunks, we were able to shrink that process and make it faster. So we got to where we could double that to 1,200 invoices per month. We're also now trying to do some automation to try to shrink it even more and provide that those mundane tasks, take those mundane tasks out and raise our skill set so that our team is happier, 'cause they're not doing the mundane tasks they do the more fun skill set tasks, and it just raises the whole team up. It also allows us to add more value by doing more analysis, so we're not doing a lot of that data entry anymore. We're actually doing analysis which helps the field.
Q: Everyone is talking about automation: To what extent are you improving performance through automation?
A: We are putting automation at various levels in every area that I've got. So from continuous improvement to technical automation and new systems to RPA. We just started RPA. We've got two bots in place right now. I hope by the end of the year to have 20 more. That's been a huge game changer for us because it takes little pieces that are truly mundane, truly static, always the same, and takes them out of the equation. So at that point we're able to use that talent for things that are more important. Like in my AR group we're able to use that talent take those ticket pulling practices out, which is very routine, and now they can put those same folks on collection, which then shrinks my DSO. So, again, adds value, increases our cash flow, makes it much better for the company, the employees are happier. It's a win win.
Q: What are your top objectives for this year?
A: RPA, RPA, RPA. Lots and lots of it. That and automation. So anything that we cannot put an RPA on we're going to try to automate the technology or pull in a tool that can help us automate. And then continuous improvement. We're always looking at that whole process. So as you knock out one piece, that changes the dynamic of all the other pieces. So we can find more and more pieces that we can then either update, maybe no longer duplicate. Just make it simpler, faster, easier, more accurate.
Cindy Pauls spoke at the 23rd Shared Services & Outsourcing Week and presented on "Talent Management: Six Strategies to Future-Proof Your Shared Services Workplace Strategy”.