Finance & Accounting Use-Cases for Robotic Process Automation
- Brian Patterson
- March 9, 2018
Robotic Process Automation
Finance and Accounting departments often operate several fragmented systems and rely heavily on routine manual processes and spreadsheets. These non-value-added workflows add cost, errors, complexity, and audit concerns throughout A&F operations.
Any structured rules-based task can typically be automated with RPA to complete workflows faster and generally at 1/9 of the cost of a domestic employee.
An RPA tool can be triggered manually or automatically invoked, move or copy data between systems, document audit trails, perform calculations, complete actions through standard user interfaces, and handoff processes to be completed by other systems and/or humans. RPA can also be combined with supplementary technology such as OCR and text analytics to process unstructured data.
Most basic tasks suitable for RPA
At the most basic level, software robots intelligently automate the following general types of manual tasks.
- Execute multi-step workflows between systems
- Consolidate data into reports or standardized formats
- Move data from one system to another
Standard RPA Use-Cases in Finance & Accounting
In Finance and Accounting manual routine tasks often involve gathering information, retyping, and posting data between systems. RPA is often found to free up substantial labor hours in the following types of F&A processes.
- Order to Cash (O2C)
- Record to Report (R2R)
- Accounts Payable (AP)
- Order Processing
- Master Data Management
- Travel and Expense (T&E)
Specific RPA Use Cases in Finance & Accounting
Some specific RPA Use-Cases for Finance and Accounting would include the following.
- Collecting data from email/spreadsheets and posting entries into a general ledger
- Processing intercompany transfers
- Collecting invoice data through PDFs, AP tools, or a central invoice library, and typing them into the accounts payable system
- Order entry processes including order taking, customer credit checking, stock checking for parts to fulfill orders, and pricing calculations
- Collecting data and entering it in a financial close application
- Collecting and composing operational and financial plan data before it’s entered into a financial planning and analysis (FP&A) system
- Checking vendors against the vendor directory, and adding them to it as necessary
- Pulling data from bank statements into reconciliation management templates
- Gathering journal entry details from emailed spreadsheets to prepopulate journal entries
- Prepopulate (SOX 404) process assurance confirmations
- Automating email confirmation processes across the financial close cycle
- Compare account balances in the absence of a purpose-built reconciliation management system
- Uploading bank account balances from bank systems to treasury systems, and formatting the data in a way that the treasury system can process it
- Distribute treasury system reports to employees to communicate balances
Automating these processes have historically shown to generate meaningful wins for process improvement professionals. But this is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Every company is different.