Software robots assisting humans is no longer a utopian scenario: we have seen the multiple benefits of automation in various industries and especially in highly regulated industries like finance and accounting. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is becoming mandatory for businesses worldwide – especially throughout the pandemic, since they have seen dramatic changes in businesses processes because of work-from-home strategies.
RPA can perform a variety of repetitive, high-volume tasks, allowing employees to focus on other strategic activities or tasks, and at the same providing an added-value for the company they work for. There is also another important aspect: software robots function 24/7 and they make zero mistakes.
According to Deloitte’s third annual RPA survey, at the current rate of growth, RPA adoption will become omnipresent in every company in some way in the next 2 years. Which means RPA will reach near-universal adoption in 2023.
At the same time, robotic process automation adoption will be gradual. 78% of respondents from Deloitte’s global survey who had already adopted this technology estimated an increase in their RPA investments during the next three years.
Another interesting aspect found by the Deloitte survey is that the Return On Investment (ROI) of RPA investments can be achieved in less than 12 months, taking into account the fact that software robots can deliver an average of 20% full-time equivalent capacity in the process.
Let’s take a closer look at finance and accounting, industries highly suitable for automation: a lot of repetitive, high-volume and rule-based tasks are involved, so those industries can be successfully automated.
According to Gartner, RPA can provide greater efficiency, compliance and productivity for the employees. Moreover, around 80% of finance leaders have implemented or are planning to implement RPA.
Benefits of finance and accounting automation
In general, financial operations require attention to detail and they can be quite monotonous, but software robots could completely change their modus operandi. RPA could also allow employees to shift their focus towards providing more value to customers, which will benefit the company overall.
Contrary to erroneous but popular beliefs, this doesn’t mean that companies should have less employees. On the contrary, the usage of technology would still require some abilities owned by people: decision-making, critical thinking, complex problem-solving, and so on.
The main benefits of RPA in finance and accounting are:
- Improving compliance processes;
- Reducing human errors;
- Cost saving;
- Enabling an efficient workflow.
Robotic process automation use cases in finance and accounting
We’ve put together a list of the most relevant RPA use cases in finance and accounting, so you can gather empirical information for starting (or improving) your RPA journey.
1. Data management
Financial institutions and companies’ financial departments have to keep track of all the personal information of their customers, like names or addresses, and these can change significantly over time.
Instead of extracting and manually processing all of the data, you can count on software robots for doing this in an efficient way and with a low (to non-existent) risk of committing errors.
2. Account opening and card activation
Account opening and card activation are time-consuming activities in finance and banking that require many operational processes to respect compliance rules – while customers can become impatient. Robotic process automation can perform these tasks faster and without error. Therefore, automation benefits not only the operational processes, but also customer service overall. Bonus? It also reduces the level of stress for your front-office employees.
3. Invoice processing and accounts receivable
There are a lot of details to be taken into consideration when processing or creating invoices – this being one of the most repetitive tasks for accounting. Large companies deal with a lot of received invoices from different contractors or suppliers that have to be registered in the financial records. With the help of robotic process automation (RPA), invoices can be automatically processed and the eventual mismatches can be fixed.
Furthermore, software robots are suitable for preparing invoices based on pre-existing contracts and for accounts receivable. Aggranda, an official UiPath partner has built, for example, a software robot responsible for Accounts Receivable Invoice Processing named Alex. It can read invoices from a CSV file, add invoices in the accounting software, create new profiles for companies and inputting data in the accounting software.
Rosy is another example of software robot developed by Aggranda for Canopy that downloads invoices from Google Ads accounts, creates invoices from the invoicing platform and emails them to clients.
4. Account reconciliations
Software robots can even download bank statements and link them with some specific user accounts, validating transactions and providing financial statements. These tasks can be really time-consuming for accounting professionals, as they would have to extract the data and integrate them manually or through legacy systems.
And let’s not forget about compliance: RPA can gather data and see if there are any unusual operations.
Check out Vintila, the software robot for Reconciliation Process, developed by Aggranda for the Romanian Union of Road Carriers (UNTRR). Every morning, after all the invoices are imported in the ERP, Vintila reconciles the payments in advance with their corresponding invoices. After that, the software robot processes each line in the bank statement and records it in the ERP software.
Another great case study is offered by Kevin, a software robot that is part of the BestValue team, the biggest airport retail store in Romania. Read on (and watch the quick video) if you’re interested in finding out how Kevin helps the finance department with processing and reconciling payments.
5. Financial predictions and complex reports
One of the most critical aspects of a company’s welfare is creating detailed predictions in terms of budgets, investments and cost targets, in order to make strategic decisions. RPA proves to be a very useful tool for this process as well.
There’s a popular catchphrase that says ‘we cannot know what we cannot measure’ – so it’s of utmost importance to track the company’s performance in terms of revenue and profits. RPA in finance and accounting is useful to generate these reports, with zero error rate.
If you’re curious to see this use case in action, take a quick look at the video explaining how this software robot for Revenue Recognition Journal Posting assists the finance team from RingCentral. Revenue recognition is an accounting principle that outlines the specific conditions under which revenue is recognized/recorded. Thus, past revenue is liable to be recorded or recognized only when meeting certain criteria.
RPA brings significant benefits to finance and accounting, as they are industries with numerous high-volume processes. According to Gartner, by using robotic process automation in financial reporting processes, finance departments can save their employees from 25,000 hours of avoidable rework caused by human errors.
Moreover, the percentage of activities that are highly automatable reaches 89% of the general accounting operations and 72% of the financial controlling and external reporting. Let that sink in for a minute…
If you want your company, as well as your employees to benefit from these savings provided by finance and accounting automation, contact us to find out how to get started with your RPA journey.