Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a key part of the digital transformation currently taking place throughout the business world. It is an influential driver of change, giving firms the impetus to analyze their current processes, in particular their manual and repetitive activities, to find ways of leveraging this emerging digital technology to achieve the many benefits that result from automation.
RPA allows firms to fully or partially automate their processes in order to accomplish an ‘end-to-end’ workflow or specific function, ultimately increasing productivity and accuracy on a consistent and repeated basis while eliminating human error and unreliability.
RPA has been instrumental in automating many processes, but has been especially vital for:
- Month-end financial and accounting close processes including order to cash, procure to pay, and fixed assets
- Transforming and streamlining ‘rules-based’ defined processes and structured data sets for monthly close cash processing
- Recurring reports, rolling information forward, variance analysis and ‘walking’ the balance sheet accounts.
Companies that have implemented RPA have eliminated 60-100% of certain manual activities, resulting in a cost savings/time capacity release of 50% or greater.
To elaborate on the impact of RPA on month-end financial and accounting close processes, bots can capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems just like a human worker.
In addition, a lot of manual tasks done in applications like QuickBooks can be executed by a bot, even with the need for underlying protocols that might require some process changes. The bot applies business rules and calculations to check for potential exceptions on the entire data set, flags potential exceptions, and reports in detail the number of trades, investigations and notifications issued. In addition, it populates a bar chart for the reports for each data set and sends out emails including the exception reports, analysis and bar charts.
However, when thinking about the financial and accounting components of the month-end close processes that can be fully automated, given the pushback and unfamiliarity some firms might have with RPA, it is advisable for firms to use an application like BlackLine® or similar software to begin their digital transition. After a successful implementation, a possible next step would be to look to fully automate the ‘end-to-end’ process using RPA technology.
The goal is to gain process efficiency and continuous process improvement: migrating from manual activities related to producing data points, and transforming the process so that those data points are converted into analytics. The use of robotics can ultimately lead to more time being spent on the review and analysis of the data, which is extremely valuable.
EisnerAmper’s Process, Risk and Technology Solutions professionals have served numerous large and middle-market companies to help them assess their current processes and identify opportunities for automation. Click here to find out more.