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The benefits of implementing RPA in finance

by Mike Jones in Robotics 12/06/2019

Robotic Process Automation is believed to be a valuable asset to finance businesses, automating laborious and manual jobs that many professionals believe is hindering progress in the market. Many finance-focused businesses involve manual and time-consuming activities, such as data extraction, report development and process execution and fixing errors that have developed from manual activity. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offers a service that can transform these activities by allowing businesses to automate manual and repetitive jobs. Through this process, RPA is supporting the streamlining of many activities and transforming progress for finance companies.

RPA in the finance industry

RPA is particularly well suited for basic processes that operate frequently and at relatively high volumes, and in finance and accounting, there are many jobs that meet these criteria. Forrester research highlight that in one particular report they found 1,400 individuals were involved in the closing of their books on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis and believed that a lot of this work could be automated with RPA, reducing the number of employees required by approximately a third. RPA has the capability to improve the end-of-year stage for businesses, which is commonly viewed as a challenging time of year for finance teams. Financial closing and reporting can involve multiple tasks, various systems and a number of employees from different teams. Reporting is another area where RPA can support finance teams. Manual reporting involves data collection, filtering, extraction and data cleaning. Automated reports can save a significant amount of time and effort for a finance team. Intelligent bots can be utilised to gather insightful details such as automatically generating credit scores and tax details or vetting new clients and updating their details.  

Commencing with RPA involves utilising structured data and as the bulk of data in a finance team is unstructured means it needs into transformed into a structured format. Fortunately, there are innovative automated systems to capture this unstructured data and convert it into a structured format, ready for an RPA bot to analyse.

There are multiple systems that are involved within a finance department and what RPA can provide is the application of machine learning technology to understand what employees do on their screens.

The key benefits of RPA for CFOs

RPA involves a process known as device mining which enables CFOs to research screens, forms, applications and websites to get a clearer understanding of how employees are performing their work and what system is working effectively. This technology provides a clear trend of the tasks performed by workers and once recognised as patterns they can measure results and be automated by applying a software bot. Software bots operating together provide a set of skills for finance teams. Skills can be applied within the auditing process, strategic sourcing or used to gather specific supplier details to understand whether the business meets criteria for advanced payment or qualifies as a preferred supplier.

The key parts of RPA in finance enable CFOs to focus more attention on performing vital business tasks. One of the main advantages of utilising bots is applying them to complex areas of a business, such as finance, operations and supply chains. These sectors are well regarded for high levels of manual activity. Automating certain processes can result in thousands of work hours being saved and company efficiency rates improving dramatically, resulting in a more positive experience for the business and customer.