How RPA can streamline finance and accounting
Business Process Automation

How RPA can streamline finance and accounting

This is a contributed article by Marie Myers, CFO, UiPath

Accounting and finance departments are well-versed with the daily routine of processing and collecting data. Often considered repetitive manual work, large volumes of data can pose a challenge for enterprises.

Automation is being widely embraced across all industries. An increase in the use of software robots in organisations means they are realising benefits such as the optimisation of logistics, particularly in managing inventory and finance functions.

According to a recent Ernst and Young report, it is estimated Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will reduce business costs 50 to 70 percent. Automation is rapidly transforming finance processes. Credit limit request underwriting, optimising end-of-month accounting and streamlining accounts payable are just a few of the benefits RPA offers.

A new start for end-of-month accounting

Accounts departments are often the victims of a crippling end-of-month run of transactions, with many manhours being swallowed up by increasing average transaction handling times. With some departments requiring multiple applications for different parts, lengthy rules-based processes can become time-consuming.

Using RPA to automate these lengthy processes will allow businesses to eliminate process errors and drastically reduce processing time, removing significant pressure from accounting teams. This in turn enables an increase in energy and empowerment, allowing staff to focus on more strategic and engaging tasks. Businesses are quickly experiencing return on investment due to this increased productivity within their accounting departments, with employee engagement rising through a reduction in hours spent on repetitive tasks.

Automated accounts payable

Processing invoices is arguably one of the biggest productivity killers for accounts teams. RPA offers a solution featuring intelligent Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which creates a fully automated process. OCR can autonomously extract data from invoices via email and validate information, for example the cost per item or number of items, against the purchase order and goods received.

By streamlining accounts payable with automation, businesses can shift the operational focus of accounts to processes of higher importance. Autonomously processing invoices allows more manpower to be dedicated to improving the customer and the supplier experience and leaves more time to work on other accounting tasks and new initiatives.

Automatically underwriting

Despite credit limit request underwriting being a key process for several organisations, it is also an expensive and highly repetitive process. RPA can dramatically reduce both time and cost by collecting, assembling and presenting data automatically on a dashboard, ready for underwriters to assess.

On occasion, RPA can process the data for credit limit requests within just an hour of receipt. The time saved allows underwriters to focus on higher value customer interactions, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.

Transforming global finance delivery

Global finance delivery processes often include several sub-processes such as foot, cross-footing, checking for internal consistency, recalculating balance time sheets and PY tie outs. The completion of reports can require complex and time-consuming solutions but is largely repetitive.

Using an RPA solution that includes natural language processing (NLP), businesses can analyse textual contexts, extract tables in PDFs, and validate primary balance sheets and other financial data.

Only efficiency in RPA

Due to RPA providing significant gains, including increased productivity, accuracy and speed, the speculation over robots ‘stealing jobs' is lessening as it is more widely implemented. However, it is not just immense cost savings that RPA provides. More importantly it relieves staff of monotonous activities involved with collating and exchanging data between systems. With RPA, staff can focus more on valuable, strategic and interesting work, which will inspire energy and empowerment in the workplace.

By introducing an RPA system that integrates intelligent OCR and NLP tools, the strains of end-of-month accounting, accounts payable, credit limit request underwriting and global finance delivery services can be significantly lessened. Businesses, staff, suppliers and customers are all able to reap the benefits of the RPA platform.

Marie Myers is CFO of UiPath, the fastest growing and leading provider of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI software worldwide. In this role, she provides the financial leadership to support the company's global mission to accelerate the adoption of automation across public and private sectors and businesses of all sizes. Myers joined UiPath from HP where she served as the global controller and executive officer.


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