Finance departments are increasing their reliance on automation to relieve overworked employees and save costs. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) promises rapid success at comparatively low costs. But is RPA a future-proof solution for the office of finance?
The strategic function of finance departments in enterprise organizations is becoming increasingly important. Companies are therefore relying on automation to free up time for their finance professionals to dedicate to more valuable tasks. An RPA tool allows for this by automating low-value, repetitive work processes using rule-based structures, such as repeated data entries or downloads and uploads in ERP systems.
RPA Usage In the Office of Finance
Historically, RPA usage has been limited to the manufacturing or insurance industries. However, the application of RPA has since shifted. According to a recent EY survey, 65% of the surveyed finance professionals reported that they believed standardizing and automating processes and building agility and quality into them will be a significant priority for tomorrow’s finance function.
As time goes on, it’s important to remember the purpose and strength of RPA as the office of finance continues to adopt automation.
The Purpose of RPA
When it comes to automating repetitive tasks, RPA is a fantastic addition to any office of finance. However, like with any tool, finance professionals should be aware of its limitations. Typically, an RPA bot does only one task, and many different bots are therefore required for more complex processes. This can bring some operational stumbling blocks, especially when companies choose to build their bots in-house. For example, RPA bots have to be regularly maintained and adapted to keep up with external requirements, like ERP updates. In addition, there is the compliance aspect: Who monitors your controls to ensure the bots do what they are supposed to? Another risk is the underlying process that RPA aims to make more effective. Simply accelerating bad processes with RPA poses an enormous risk because the process itself is not improved to ensure effectiveness.
Achieving Seamless End-To-End Automation
Companies that are looking towards digital transformation to optimally position themselves for the future must look beyond point RPA solutions to implement seamless end-to-end automation. While RPA bots reduce the manual effort that exists in many companies despite their ERP system, this only addresses individual tasks instead of several processes in parallel for true transformation. An end-to-end automation solution supported by RPA will allow you to effectively streamline processes and significantly reduce manual tasks. If you were to automate the same number of tasks in an end-to-end solution using only RPA bots, an inordinate number of bots would have to be used, regularly checked and maintained. It makes sense to use RPA bots in addition to close any gaps, like marking tasks in your ERP as completed, but they should not be relied on for long-term, scalable automation.
With Cadency by Trintech, you can automate a large part of the manual activities during the financial close and use RPA in a strategically targeted manner which has been proven effective by leading organizations. Pre-built connectors for third-party systems ensure that the necessary information is collected and passed on to Cadency. As a comprehensive Record to Report (R2R) solution, Cadency works seamlessly with any ERP to establish a system of controls. By controlling your tasks from a central location, RPA bots can automatically collect documents and attachments for account reconciliations and use the connector to add them to the respective reconciliations in Cadency. The bots can also send journal entries to the ERP system, which saves employees a significant amount of manual work. Your team no longer has to manually locate files and load them into the solution, which significantly reduces the work involved in closing the books at period end.
Risk Intelligent RPA™ in the Office of Finance
Trintech has been a leader in RPA for several years and was rated as a pioneer in Risk Intelligent RPA™ (RI RPA) by Gartner in 2018. RI RPA takes traditional RPA one step further by underpinning the whole financial process with an effective control framework and standardizing all-important control components. RI RPA provides a clear audit trail for compliance initiatives and drives further efficiency gains by managing key reconciliation and closing activities within a system of controls where the risk level of an activity determines the action plan of the finance team. For example, if a low-risk account, with no expected activity, suddenly has transactions, RI RPA detects this change and notifies the appropriate party. After the notification, said party can now investigate the cause of this change. The use of RI RPA not only leads to lower costs and fewer errors, but also to improved compliance by checking, automating and triggering notifications.
If RPA is used sensibly and accompanied by a partnership with proven experts, it can be a good solution to help relieve financial departments by speeding up processes and reducing manual effort. To be future-proof, those responsible for finance should align their automation strategy in the long term. It is not necessary to completely replace the existing data management system but, with the help of intelligent control systems such as Cadency, an automated control authority can be introduced based on the existing IT infrastructure. This enables significant cost saving, reduced workload for finance departments and company-wide compliance guidelines to be automatically secured.
To learn more about how RI RPA can provide long term growth in your office of finance, read our webpage.