RPA for Finance and Accounting

roi for rpa

RPA for finance and accounting is transforming the way numbers departments operate by automating reporting, bank reconciliations, tax provisions, reporting, and more.

RPA for finance and accounting is growing in popularity as more organizations are realizing the cost, time, and effort benefit of implementing process automation into their workflows. This is because of the repetitive, rule-based nature of these departments. Data entry, simple calculations, reporting—these tasks are so easy even a software robot can do it, and we’re going to show you how!.

The Problem with Manual Finance and Accounting Processes

The finance and accounting department is critical to the everyday operations of an organization. Chief Financial Officers are under constant pressure to optimize their department’s output. And yet, finance and accounting workflows are riddled with countless boring, objective tasks that hinder the department’s operations. Knowledge workers—who are capable of much more challenging duties—are stuck with humdrum activities. Errors, delays, inefficiency, and burnout are just a few symptoms of a manually-managed finance and accounting department. Robotic process automation (RPA) has been a key driver of innovation in finance and accounting departments, delivering a host of benefits including cost savings, accuracy, scalability, and better compliance.

Process Automation for Finance and Accounting Departments

Finance and accounting departments around the world are implementing RPA into their workflows. Robotic process automation is the use of software bots to eliminate employee’s tedious, repetitive tasks so they can focus on more valuable work. RPA software bots are onboarded to “learn” and then take over the mundane and repetitive tasks carried out by humans. In turn, this frees up the humans to perform more high-value duties. Robotic process automation can be added as an additional layer on top of existing infrastructures and applications. RPA can be implemented at an individual level or an organizational level (click here for more on RPA adoption strategies).

A step-by-step process module for the task to be automated is prepared by the managing individual. The actions specified in the process module can range from understanding what’s on a screen, completing the right keystrokes, navigating systems, identifying and extract data. In a finance and accounting department, these actions include data entry, calculations, and other duties commonly found in finance and accounting workflows. Let’s get into some more specific RPA use cases for finance and accounting.

RPA Use Cases for Finance and Accounting

Robotic process automation can be applied to several different areas of a finance and accounting departments, including invoice processing, bank reconciliations, tax provisions, reporting, and employee expense receipts.

RPA for Invoice Processing Automation

Handling invoices is one of the most monotonous, time-consuming, error-prone, costly activity in the finance and accounting department. All of these characteristics make it the perfect candidate for automation. RPA software robots are able to constantly monitor a dedicated folder where invoices sent. The invoice PDF attachments are downloaded and saved in a folder. Using optical character recognition (OCR) and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, software robots can read and extract key info from each invoice. That information is then inputted into the company’s data base or ERP system. For invoices with business exceptions, like a past due date, the bot automatically sends an email to the managing knowledge worker with the affected invoice attached. At the end of the process, RPA sends a final report to the knowledge worker. RPA will help F&A professionals by ensuring invoices are processed accurately, quickly, and on-time. Check out this article on automating invoice processing to learn more.

rpa for finance and accounting

RPA for Bank Reconciliations

Managing different account types, institutions, payment times, and time zones makes bank reconciliation a huge hurdle for knowledge workers in the finance and accounting department. Rather than manually toggling between journals to match transactions, RPA can do it for you. Software bots can upload all the statements that they receive in paper, PDF, and excel formats onto a cloud-based statement processing system. Then a comparison is run to match payment details with bank records. All matching information is reconciled. If there are discrepancies in the data, like missing info or duplicates, RPA sends back the ledgers to the accounts payable team to investigate further.

Tax Provision Automation

Corporate F&A departments are responsible for setting aside capital in order to cover tax provisions. Manually calculating these estimates is quite cumbersome for knowledge workers. Nevertheless, the IRS will expect accurate expenditure each year. RPA can help improve this process. To begin the process, RPA bots connect to data source to create and export the trial balance data. Bots can cleanse the data against tax rules to make sure all compliances are met. Then, the bot can utilize visualization tools to showcase the forecasted tax provisions.

Financial Reporting Automation

Reporting and forecasting is critical aspect of the finance and accounting department. Major decisions are based off the past performance and future projections of the company’s financial health, so there is no room for error. Process automation can be utilized to enter queries in your data and analytics applications, extract data, save in a report, and send for your review. Bots can also be programmed to continually run analysis so you can constantly stay abreast of all the ongoing latest capital expenditures, investments, and financial statements.

Employee Expense Receipts

Automating the employee expense receipts can significantly improve the time, expense, and accuracy of the manual workflow. RPA bots will receive employee expense receipts via email, download the attachments, create a folder with the employee’s name, and save all the attachments in the corresponding employee’s folder. For an in-depth example, check out this article on automating your employee expense receipts, or watch the video below.

RPA Use Cases for Finance and Accounting

Benefits of RPA for Human Resources

Leveraging the emerging tech concept of robotic process automation will help finance and accounting departments work smarter not harder in several ways: higher employee and customer satisfaction, more productivity, fewer errors, higher retention rates, rapid ROI, scalability, and better compliancy to name a few. While the RPA bot works around the clock to complete the administrative, logic-based jobs without error, knowledge can pursue more interesting an interactive work. This will mitigate burnout and raise their satisfaction levels. RPA for HR will also delight new and existing employees as they are getting more attention from their human resource colleagues. RPA system can be scaled quickly and easily when the workload spikes, all the while keeping perfect compliancy. Last but certainly not least, The Institute for RPA estimates that process automation solutions can deliver an immediate savings of 25% to 40% in labor costs alone. McKinsey Digital also found that automating business processes can result in an ROI of between 30 and 200 percent in the first year. These are just a few of the sprawling list of benefits of RPA for human resources.

Higher employee satisfaction
New and existing employees receive more attention from HR representatives, meaning more of their needs are being met.

Knowledge workers are more fulfilled
Boring work is replaced with more interesting and in-person work which reduces quit rates.

Higher retention rates
With more satisfied HR specialists and employees, fewer individuals will seek alternative employment.

Higher productivity
RPA bots can complete tasks 24/7 while knowledge workers can add value to the company elsewhere.

Higher Accuracy
Human error is the cause of many HR discrepancies. As long as they are programmed correctly, software bots can deliver error-free workflows.

RPA system can be quickly scaled to handle large volumes of data when the workload spikes.

Higher Compliance
Software bots can be programmed to follow required compliances with 100% accuracy.

Cost Savings
ROI for RPA is a major driving factor for adopting automation.

Elevating Finance and Accounting with Process Automation

The future is automated, but finance and accounting departments are stuck in the past. Now, robotic process automation is being introduced to help alleviate knowledge workers of repetitive, boring tasks. From payroll to employee training, RPA is helping HR sectors put their focus back on their workforce by automating these boring jobs. As a result, companies are realizing higher retention rates, more satisfaction, better accuracy, and more. Together, knowledge employees and digital workers can collaborate for a truly efficient and powerful workforce. Gartner reports 80% of finance leaders have implemented or are planning to implement RPA. Will you be among them?

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When to adopt RPA? 9 Situations Business Users Need Automation

When should you adopt Robotic Process Automation?

We’ve touched on what is RPA, why it’s important to digital transformation, and how to implement RPA. Now it’s time to discuss when you need RPA. The truth is, with the ability of robotic process automation services to start you and your business on the path to digital transformation, it can be a huge asset to your organization any time. However, there are specific circumstances during which RPA acts as the missing piece in your business’ puzzle of success. Ready to discover if now is the right time for you to adopt RPA? We’ve unpacked nine different situations that call for RPA implementation. Let’s begin!

You Should Adopt RPA When...

You’re heavily reliant on human employees and/or were affected by COVID-19 labor hinderances

The pandemic changed business forever. The organizations hit hardest by COVID-19 were those most reliant on their human employees to keep business moving. Shutdowns and massive layoffs put them at a huge disadvantage—some were even forced to permanently shutter. Robotic process automation is the only thing that could’ve saved them and given them a chance to survive during the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, many organizations had foresight into the situation and saw it as an opportunity to digitize their workforce.

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Businesswire reports that, “Nearly 50% of businesses around the world will increase robotic process automation adoption due to COVID-19.” Armed with RPA bots to fill human-sized holes, organizations can fight against pandemic-related staffing problems and come out the victor. As the leading research firm Horses for Sources says “If there’s ever been a time we needed a digital workforce to augment humans, it’s now.”

robotic process automation

You have repetitive, rule-based tasks

There is a great deal of tasks within an organization that require no creativity, problem-solving, or really any skill at all. These tasks are often necessary to keep the business going, but aren’t interesting or challenging. Employees are forced to repeat these mind-numbing tasks over and over again ad nauseam. What some leaders don’t realize is that there’s another option to complete these jobs without boring their employees to death: robotic process automation. RPA bots can plow through repetitive, logic-based tasks to free up your human employees for more interesting, important work. Here are just a handful of the essentially-endless amount of tasks RPA bots can complete:

• Grabbing data from multiple applications
• Filling information in multiple places
• Reentering data
• Copying and pasting
• Make calculations
• Open and move files
• Parse emails
• Log into programs
• Connect to APIs
• Extract unstructured data
• Send emails
• Send notifications
• Send chat messages
• Customer credit monitoring
• Create and balance journal entries
• Employee onboarding
• Payroll
• Appointment scheduling
• Invoice processing

robotic process automation

You’re concerned about wasted company time

Humans are great, but they like to scroll through Facebook, eat, and gab around the water cooler. That may seem harmless, but you’ll probably think otherwise after reading these three statistics from Hubstaff:

• The average employee wastes about 8 hours every week on personal tasks and mobile devices.
• 60% or less of work time is actually spent productively.
• Work time lost to frequent distractions costs U.S. businesses an estimated $650 billion per year.

Pretty shocking, right? Software bots, on the other hand, could care less about a juicy comments section or an hour-long lunch. In addition to being distraction-free, bots are able to complete tasks much faster than humans, too. What’s more? The more you work your bots, the better and faster they get! In all areas of business and in all industries, there are countless examples of how RPA can save company time.

You can’t get work done around the clock

Small to mid-sized enterprises don’t have the luxury of first, second, and third shifts to get work done. They’re working with a small staff of individuals who work eight hours a day, five days a week; not to mention vacation and sick time off. Adopting robotic process automation can take your productivity from 9am- 5pm Monday-Friday to 24/7/365. That’s right, software bots can work around the clock while you and your employees rest. RPA can also offload your human employees so they can get more done elsewhere.

You’re dealing with an exorbitant amount of human error

One of the main reasons RPA helps companies save money is by the reduction of human error, which accounts for 60%-80% of risks in high-risk industries. As long as the software bots are correctly programmed with the right tasks and are properly managed, they will perform with 100% accuracy 100% of the time. Remember: RPA bots are perfect rule followers. Mistakes only happen when they are not informed when rules of the process change, security clearance to access application is altered, or when they are improperly governed.

robotic process automation

Your customer satisfaction rate is below par

Combining the speed and accuracy of RPA results in a much higher customer satisfaction rate because your customers are being served better and faster than ever before. For example, customers have access to support 24/7 with the help of chatbots that can quickly and accurately get to the bottom of the issue. Customers are able to affect real change in an organization via their reviews and feedback with sentiment analysis or opinion mining. And for more sensitive matters, human employees have more time to spend with the customer one-on-one now that the automation has the basic tasks handled.

You experience highs and lows in demand and/or you foresee downsizing or expansion in your future

Scaling is an important aspect for companies of any size. For small organizations looking to grow in the coming years, to large corporations that experience periodic work influxes, robotic process automation can be quickly and easily scaled to accommodate. This also eliminates any concerns with major budget changes and mitigates the stress of doing major layoffs or mass hires. For the organization to implement RPA at a scale, a top-down approach (also called Center of Excellence or CoE) is needed. CoE helps organizations adopt RPA deeply and effectively at scale.

RPA Center of Excellence

Your employee retention rate is dropping off

Remember the repetitive, rule-based tasks from earlier? We hate to break it to you, but your employees don’t want to be doing them. They’re boring, and often an insult to their intelligence. This type of work leads to major burnout, which in turn increases a company’s employee turnover rate. RPA is a quick way to boost your employee satisfaction because it allows you to assign more purposeful work to your human staffers. They’ll instantly feel more useful and fulfilled at their jobs. This will restore trust between employee and employer, increasing retention rate.

You can’t wait to see a return on your investment

Some companies don’t have years to wait for a return on their investment. To avoid extended periods of time in the red, they need a quick turnaround. McKinsey has found that automating business processes with RPA can result in an ROI of between 30 and 200 percent in the first year. Organizations that possess the following operational qualities have potential for the highest ROI:

• Tasks that can be completed outside of normal working hours
• Process has high volume
• Processes involving several applications

robotic process automation

When should you adopt RPA? Now!

So, the secret’s out: RPA is advantageous to businesses in a wide variety of circumstances. Whether you find yourself in all the aforementioned situations or just one, robotic process automation can take you to new heights. So now that we’ve got the what, why, how, and when of RPA, it’s time to find the “who” of who will help you implement it. With the right tech partner, you’ll be able to conceptualize an RPA strategy that will take you all the way from analysis to bot deployment.

Sunflower Lab has multiple locations to better serve our clients. Robotic process automation services Columbus, Ohiorobotic process automation services New Jersey, and robotic process automation services New York all designed specifically to accommodate the needs in each unique market. Reach out to one of our RPA specialists today to know more about our Robotic Process Automation Services.

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Employee expense receipt management is the perfect process for RPA because it is logic based and redundant. Let’s