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RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is the most exciting among the emerging technologies that make business processes simpler, faster and more cost-effective. Until recent times robotic applications were used mainly in industries and assembly lines where massive armatures and fabricators speeded up the manufacturing process for anything from heavy automobiles to minuscule components.

Today, software robots imitate ‘human actions’ to automate processes even in businesses and offices. These robots (bots) are trained to follow specific human actions and procedures to automate tedious and repetitive business processes.

Robotic Process Automation is the technology that is currently revolutionising the operational aspects of businesses. RPA systems are based on Artificial Intelligence and use bots to ‘watch and learn’ humans perform a particular task. They are then programmed to replicate the task directly in the GUI (graphical user interface) of the application. RPA is a technology investment that delivers ROI from day one. It removes the tedium, repetition and non-productive human processes in your business. Once the bots take over these operations, your manpower can focus on relevant business goals and yet be assured that operations are accurate and quick.

RPA is transforming accounting and auditing processes in a big way

Robotic Process Automation offers significant benefits in many areas for large and midsize companies. However, the most impressive use of RPA tools is in finance and accounting practices.

Large companies, especially in the service sector, have automated core functions in finance using RPA and claim that the change brought about hefty savings in annual corporate expenditure.

For a relatively new technology, the impact that Robotic Process Automation has on large businesses is phenomenal. RPA digitises financial and accounting processes faster than ever imagined.

On the one hand, it enhances productivity, brings down costs and streamlines compliances; on the other, it frees up time to work on strategies that build and grow your business.

Perfect for operations linking transactional data from various sources, in finance, RPA is useful in invoice processing, accounts payable, claims processing, payroll input, updating personal information, travel and expenses accounts and more.

Depending on the specific requirement, RPA has gained traction in various ways in different organisations.

So much so, that an estimated 45% of activities performed by humans in companies can be automated through RPA. This in turn translates directly into better bottom lines.

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RPA in finance: How does it work?

Automation is not a new concept in business operations. While automation has streamlined and speeded up many office workflows, a lion’s share of financial functions has continued to be manual. With RPA the lack of efficient comprehensive solutions and the general misgiving about machines handling accounts have been done away with. Robotic accounting is monitored and controlled by human rules, configurations and processes.

As a technology that uses innovation to cover new aspects of operations every day, RPA is fast establishing its value as the most effective automation tool in finance and accounting. The benefits of RPA in finance are direct cost savings, enhanced productivity and healthy employee morale.

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Use cases of RPA in accounting and finance

Traditionally, businesses use varied technology tools and solutions for various finance and auditing functions. This inevitably leads to repetitive tasks involving the copying of data from one platform to the other as per requirement. Imagine what your company could achieve if the time and resources invested in such tedious, non-productive work could be channelled to newer goals! RPA in finance is all about that transformation.

Perfect for operations linking transactional data from various sources, robotics process automation in finance is your solution to consolidating human efforts in your business.

A customised accounts and finance automation platform can help your business scale new frontiers. Some areas where finance automation can make a notable difference in your company include:

Purchase Order Processing

This is one task where your staff can be replaced by bots configured with cognitive data capture tools. Your customised accounting automation platform can scan Purchase Orders for specific information, process them and route them through appropriate approval channels.

Invoice Processing

Take the challenge out of managing invoices from various sources in multiple formats. The ‘trained’ bots in your automated finance solution can do the job many times faster and without human error. RPA in finance can be designed even to detect and alert variations in data that may require human review.

Basic Accounts Reconciliation

It is another series of to and fro journeys between various accounting sources that the RPA bots of your finance automation solution can handle with precision. Not only will you have accurate records for audits, but your staff will also be alerted to any misaligned detail in your accounts.

Financial Reporting

It takes on the importance it deserves with accounting automation taking on the mundane tasks of your finance department. With your accounting staff dedicating more time to accurate information and detailed reporting, better data insights will enable smarter business decisions.

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The vital role of RPA in auditing

Internal audits are vital to reviewing your company’s performance and charting future strategies. Automating your auditing process not only streamlines activities and reduces tedium but enhances data visibility and process outcomes. RPA in finance adds the much-needed muscle to auditing tasks. If your auditing automation is planned and executed in a phased manner according to the specific nature of your business, the results could be more impactful than envisaged in areas like:

Revenue Audits

Where a daily tracking of basic business activities like cash flow and comparisons can be done effectively and accurately by the bots in your accounting automation tool. This frees up time for working on vital in-depth revenue reports and audits.

Advanced Reconciliation

This can lead to more focused and productive audit outcomes when repetitive and tedious data entry is removed from reconciliation tasks. Robotics automation processes in accounting can efficiently take care of compliance tasks varying from verification of transactions to periodic ledger reconciliation.

Alerting Exceptions

It is vital to ensure that your business does not incur a loss because a misalignment in accounts was not noticed in time. RPA is structured on schedules and rules, which makes it sensitive to missing or misaligned data. Financial process automation can help your company by alerting you to interruptions in your transaction parameters. The bots in your accounting automation tool detect these exceptions and flag them for timely resolution.

Risk Assessment

It becomes easier for your auditors when your financial RPA is on the job. The specifically trained robots in your accounts automation platform can easily detect and alert your team to any change in your company’s financial vitals or to risks from a particular transaction.

And better still, RPA closes the gaps in accounting and financial digitisation!

Automation in finance operation processes has been successfully implemented by businesses of all sizes across industries. However, many of these implementations leave a gap between individual process cycle automation like the record to report, procure to pay and order to cash.

Linking and coordinating data from these activities across different applications is a manual process that involves time and the risk of human error. If these gaps are closed, your business can experience seamless opportunities for profit and growth.

Robotic Process Automation in accounting and finances does just that. Financial process automation does away with the need to retype information, manual updating of ledgers and unwieldy spreadsheets. In short, RPA saves time and effort and ensures accuracy.

Some functions where an additional accounting and financial RPA can close gaps and work wonders are:

Procure to Pay automation

where software bots can be configured for:-

  • Supplier onboarding by robots ‘trained’ to vet new suppliers by referring tax data, credit reports and more.
  • Portal queries where RPA can link all your portals and streamline workflows.
  • Market intelligence through smart bots configured to regularly assess supplier credentials for compliance with quality and delivery standards.
  • Price comparisons using a robot to track price fluctuations and spot suppliers who offer the best prices.
  • Contract terms can be automated so that every invoice is validated.

Quote to Cash automation

where RPA in finances can be designed with intelligent robots for:

  • Customer on-boarding by robots ‘trained’ to vet new customers by referring tax data, credit reports and more.
  • Pricing comparisons Bots can be used to gather and compare current prices from suppliers.
  • Order exceptions Automatic price checks can be done on orders with stipulations on suppliers and price holds.
  • Shipment receipts Avoid duplication errors with software robots that can validate delivery receipts against POs and alert any exception.
  • Maintain master data for reference and validation.

Record to Report automation

where robots can be trained for:

  • Financial closure support RPA in finance can link and copy data from various systems to close ledgers, create financial reports and prepare mandatory regulatory filings.
  • Data extraction for accounts closure Accounting automation software bots configured for your company can support and connect each of your business divisions to reconcile and consolidate records and transaction journals.
  • Data management Robots in your financial automation tool can be ‘trained’ to collect and collate all the finance and performance data of your company. This enables decision-makers to access relevant and accurate data whenever it is needed.

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The champions of RPA in finance

Financial service enterprises like insurance companies, auditing firms, mortgage processors and banks stand to gain the most by implementing RPA in finance. With processes that involve endless forms, applications, declarations, endorsements, searching, matching, comparing and filing, these companies were traditionally snowed under with paper documents and files. Sifting data and retrieving it was a backbreaking job. Mistakes and delays in such scenarios were costly. This is where RPA has made an unimaginable difference.

RPA has been delivering the advantages of digital labour technology in the financial services industry for over a decade. It is no wonder that this sector is one of the early champions of automation. According to a 2016 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, two-thirds of companies in the financial services sector are using RPA, while others outsource services to vendors who themselves are using RPA.

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Advantage RPA!

Robotic Process Automation is a boon for the financial services sector and is equally attractive to other industries.

Accurate, fast, economical

RPA in accounting and finance is smarter than human labour – achieving 50- 70% operational cost reduction across industries and use cases.

Maintains privacy, mitigates risk, enhances compliance

Financial automation enables your company to maintain compliances common to your industry. Accuracy, speed and audit trails recorded by the RPA bots make outsourcing redundant, thus ensuring the privacy of data.

Adapts to change, scales to the future

The highly scalable RPA solutions can be implemented easily and are equipped to handle complex accounting processes as your business evolves.

High on ROI

The RPA robots are smart workers. Well-implemented accounting and finance automation enables your business to achieve more with lesser resources.

Reduce operational time, data entry errors and operational cost with RPA in finance

Robotic process automation can very well be called ‘digital labour’ as it takes non-productive, repetitive load off humans and frees up time for meaningful work. Automation is an evolving technology and can be adapted or configured for changing needs and specific functions. With advanced tools and innovations in need-based technology, RPA now plays a central role in the larger concept of automation.

Software robots can learn and repeat a set of structured, logical, rule-based actions. This makes them the favourites of data-heavy industries. RPA is versatile, so they are the best tools for integrating industry-specific platforms with the latest technology applications. And, apart from speed and accuracy for data entry and re-entry by its bots, RPA cycles can be configured to run during non-business hours when servers and networks are not busy.

RPA in finances forms a significant part of the automation process. A suitably configured and implemented accounting and finance automation platform can relieve your manpower of repetitive labour, save years of time in terms of man-hours and drive sustainable business growth. The future of intelligent automation holds unimaginable benefits, wherein tools like machine learning, optical character recognition and artificial intelligence will be integrated for a realistic digital transformation.

Read more about Robotic Process Automation on Nanonets

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