RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation. It is a cutting-edge technology that has been gaining a lot of traction lately. It is a technology that allows software to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting with digital systems to perform smooth business functions. It can manipulate applications and capture data just the way humans can. In addition, it can interpret actions, trigger responses and communicate with other systems to execute a wide range of routine tasks.
RPA is the future and businesses need to upgrade their processes to accommodate the evolving technology. Finance being a major business function, needs to prepare for it. In fact, many businesses have started implementing the new technology in their finance function in order to reap long term benefits from it.
RPA can help businesses overcome some of the challenges in the finance function such as cost cutting, improved efficiency, enhanced quality of output, improved speed, value-added services, etc. Moreover, the cost and time required to implement that same is insignificant compared to major IT platform updates.
So, here is why we say that RPA is future of finance function.
RPA – The future of finance function
RPA helps organisations meet key challenges in the field of finance and gain a competitive edge in the industry. Here is how it helps businesses:
- Cost efficiency
RPA involves the use of digital technologies thereby replacing the human intervention. It can take care of routine, repetitive tasks and high-frequency tasks while at the same time reducing the overall processing time for these tasks as compared to the human workforce. This automation can lead to cost reduction of up to 50 to 70 percent for a few activities. It can optimise the finance function by improving cost efficiency and reducing the processing or operational time of critical paths. Moreover, RPA can be applied to existing applications and it does not require an organisation to change its current IT landscape which saves the time and results in low implementation costs.
- Enhanced control
RPA leads to an enhanced level of control within an organisation, especially in the finance function. It acts as a great alternative to outsourcing and offshoring of finance operations. Apart from this, it offers numerous benefits to businesses including a higher level of compliance with internal controls framework, saves communication and coordination time between teams, no time lag between head office and off-shore teams, maintains the secrecy of data and many others. In addition, RPA can quickly respond to changes with incremental improvement within no time. All of this leads to overall enhanced quality and customer satisfaction.
- Value creation
RPA aims at driving value creation within an organisation by employing skilled resources. It improves the capabilities of the finance function in analysing and providing insights to the business by increasing the access to quick data. It collects data from various sources including external data providers, recognize text and graphics information, social networks, shared drives, etc. Moreover, the time taken to run a report in RPA is drastically reduced which further helps organisations in value creation.
With numerous benefits of RPA to finance function, it is vital that the finance function prepares to implement RPA. Moreover, the implementation of RPA can positively impact several elements of the finance operating model.
How can a finance function prepare for RPA?
RPA can automate and redesign a process completely. For repetitive and routine processes, RPA can deliver efficient outputs across the locations, business units or other business functions offering a shared service centre.
For the implementation of RPA, the critical paths need to be reassessed as automation in these paths can lead to a few bottlenecks that were not present before. However, organisations can overcome this by documenting the entire process.
Organisations can use RPA in finance functions like general accounting, operational accounting, treasury function, financial reporting, external reporting, planning, budgeting and forecasting.
The implementation of RPA is extremely successful in the shared service centers. Due to automation, it can minimise the human intervention and thereby reduce the cost of human errors and inefficiencies. Although shared service centers offer benefit by following standardised processes for critical tasks but still the low cost and short time span of implementing RPA is a major benefit that overpowers RPA.
RPA helps in minimising drawbacks associated with manual intensive interfaces and inefficiencies in the system thereby increasing the functionality of the existing systems.
Even tough RPA is an automated robotic software, but it still requires human involvement at various stages of decision making, advanced analysis, advanced interpretation, review and approval and much more. The people involved in the finance function will require the new technical as well as practical skills in order to manage and work with the robotic processes.
RPA is an advanced tool which can bring about a radical change in the organisations processes and its working. Implementing RPA can be a quick win, bringing immediate benefit to the finance function.