Many financial services professionals are riddled with day-to-day records keeping, Excel spreadsheet maintenance, and manual data entry. In fact, almost everything a finance and accounting department does involves repetitive, rules-based, and frequent (RRF) tasks.
Luckily, these RRF tasks are exactly what RPA is designed to alleviate. RPA software providers, such as UiPath, and RPA consulting and implementation partners, such as TEAM International, enable “robots” to perform computer-based office work with little to no manual intervention, automating up to 80 percent of rules-based processes and executing tasks with close to 100 percent accuracy. This not only frees up the time of your valuable employees to focus on more strategic work, it also improves the overall compliance and reputation of your firm.
This is why RPA is perfect for the financial services industry. It’s also why over 50 percent of finance and accounting respondents in a Deloitte poll said they were planning to incorporate automation in their organization.
So, where exactly can RPA help you in your finance and accounting functions? Nearly everywhere.
Here are the top eight most common use-cases for RPA in finance and accounting.
AP and AR represent significant line items on a company’s balance sheet. There’s a lot to keep track of and record in the workflow of payment and receiving, including approvals, the payment itself, as well as reconciling journal entries at the end of the month.
While important and necessary work, AP and AR management requires countless repetitive, rules-based tasks. The tasks also demand consistency, accuracy, and adherence to timeline, as they are primarily the subject of financial audits. All of which make these processes perfect candidates for RPA.
RPA is capable of setting up processes for different vendors and clients, establishing credit and payment approval workflows, processing payments and receipts, routing orders, sending late payment notifications, and more.
Vendor management is a component of AP. A large global company could have upwards of 75,000 suppliers – all with separate payment processes and credit rules. Vendor management helps ensure a debt is properly paid to a vendor in the correct timeline and according to the agreed upon terms.
RPA can help you set up the payment process across different vendors, adhere to the correct parameters, and ensure on-time payment every time.
On a related note to vendor management is the specific process of invoicing. It can take a company between 4 and 16 days to process an invoice from receipt to payment approval – and a significant portion of this processing requires at least 76 percent manual input.
This means there’s room for companies to automate invoice management with RPA. RPA can monitor receipts, extract data, register invoices, send notifications, perform reconciliations, and more – all in a matter of minutes, not days.
At the end of every month, accountants in any organization must close the records for the month to verify and adjust account balances, generate accurate and consistent financial statements, and get ahead of any accounting or bank-related issues.
This month-end financial closing process is a source of stress for accounting teams and CFOs: Long hours, frustrating bottlenecks, and tedious manual reconciliations. It requires accuracy, timeliness, and immense attention to detail. What’s more, it takes the complete attention of the accounting team: no other accounting function can be worked on during month-end closing time.
With the help of RPA, employees can focus on drawing meaningful conclusions from the data and statements instead of tedious number-crunching.
When employees travel for meetings and conferences, they leave a trail of tickets and receipts behind them that need to eventually find their way to the company expense report.
Unfortunately, these reports can be cumbersome to put together thanks to missing receipts, out-of-policy-spends, late submissions, among many other issues and errors.
RPA streamlines the expense report approval and payment process by comparing expenses to the company policy, tracking receipts, and directly pulling data into reports. It can even send policy reminders through emails to new travelers or those who have violated policy.
Fraud costs firms millions in dollars and trust. The manual process of gathering and monitoring information to detect fraud is laborious for employees – and fraud can slip through the cracks.
RPA can not only detect fraud as it happens but also predict future fraudulent activity based on patterns in data.
Although reconciliations are a part of all accounting processes, and especially important are intercompany reconciliations. When two branches of a parent company engage in a transaction, the figures need to be reconciled to ensure that the records are in agreement and appear on financial statements correctly.
RPA automates the checking and reconciliation of these balances, completes reporting for exceptions, and creates files and email reports for finance to review and approve.
Developing and delivering daily profit & loss reports is an effective way to show a company’s financial health in near real-time. These reports take a lot of time and manual data entry to pull together for the already swamped accounting team. RPA can populate and validate report data and generate the final report, reducing inaccuracies and saving the accounting team time.
It’s important to note that RPA cannot replace human thought. But it can help automate the manual, repetitive tasks, unlocking your ability to make better decisions and move beyond data entry and report generation. For finance and accounting teams, RPA is a dream come true.
Interested in automating your finance and accounting functions? We can help. Contact us now to learn more. Learn more about our RPA services.