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Robotic Process Automation has the power to streamline processes, empower staff and increase customer satisfaction says Kulpreet Singh, Managing Director - EMEA, UiPath
Data is all around us and finance and accounting departments are well versed in dealing with it daily. While processing and collecting large amounts of data is often predictable manual work, the sheer volumes can be challenging for enterprise companies.
Organisations across industries are embracing automation and increasingly benefitting from the use of software robots to optimise logistics, manage inventory, as well as finance functions.
A report by Ernst and Young states that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is estimated to provide a cost reduction of 50% -70%. Automating credit limit request underwriting; streamlining accounts payable processes and optimising end of month accounting are just some of the ways in which automation is transforming finance processes.
An end to end-of-month accounting
A typical end-of-month run of transactions can be time intensive crippling for any accounts department. Average transaction handling times can quickly mount up, swallowing significant man hours. Lengthy rules-based processes can consume departments with multiple applications required for different parts of the process.
Automating these lengthy processes with RPA means that businesses can dramatically reduce processing time and eliminate process errors. This removes pressure from accounting teams and empowers them to focus their energies on more strategic or engaging tasks. Businesses quickly experience ROI through increased productivity within the accounts department and see upticks in employee engagement and retention through the reduction of repetitive tasks.
Streamlining Accounts Payable
Processing invoices is another productivity killer for accounts teams. An RPA solution that features intelligent Optical Character Recognition (OCR), can autonomously extract data from invoices incoming via email and validate invoice information (e.g., PO number, number of items, cost per item) against the purchase order and goods received, creating a fully automated process.
Streamlining Accounts Payable with automation enables businesses to shift the operational focus of accounts to more critical processes. With less man hours consumed by the processing of invoices, businesses can improve both the customer and the supplier experience with faster processes, leaving more time to work on new initiatives and more time to react to other accounting tasks.
Credit limit request underwriting is a key process for many organisations, and a costly and highly repetitive process. RPA robots can drastically reduce time and cost by automatically collecting, assembling and presenting data on a dashboard for the underwriters to assess.
In some cases, RPA can process the data for credit limit requests within one hour of receipt. The time savings created enable underwriters to dedicate more time to high-value customer interactions, further driving up customer satisfaction.
Reshaping global finance delivery processes
Global finance delivery processes can include multiple sub-processes, including footing, cross-footing, checking for internal consistency, recalculating balance sheets and PY tie outs. Completing reports usually requires complex, manual, repetitive and time-consuming actions.
By adopting an RPA solution that incorporates natural language processing (NLP) businesses can analyse textual contexts, extract tables in PDFs, and validate primary balance sheets and other financial data.
Nothing sinister in RPA
While speculation over robots “stealing jobs” is lessening as RPA is more widely implemented, the reality is that RPA provides significant gains, including increased productivity, accuracy, and speed. But it isn’t just about how RPA can provide significant cost savings – it’s also about relieving staff of time traditionally spent manually moving, collating and posting data between systems, and giving them more valuable, interesting and strategic work.
By adopting an RPA platform that integrates Intelligent Optical Recognition (OCR) and NLP tools, the stresses and strains of end-of-month accounting, accounts payable, credit limit request underwriting and global finance delivery processes will be a thing of a past. The benefits will be felt across the business, its staff, and its suppliers and customers.