Your finance team has a strong overall view of your company.
But they work with a broad range of data sources, tools, and business processes with manual, repetitive tasks that are tedious and time-consuming.
Automation can help. Not only does it take mundane tasks off your finance team’s plate—it also connects information so you can see the full spectrum of your company’s performance.
In this post, we explore how robotic process automation (RPA) helps finance departments reduce risk, build better vendor relationships, and better understand their business.
Key benefits of RPA in finance
Finance's desire to work more efficiently predates the COVID-19 pandemic. CFOs always wanted to reduce time spent on payroll, consolidation, and reporting, among other processes.
The events of the past two years was a significant catalyst for digital transformation.
Finance leaders had to embrace and apply RPA, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other digital technologies to core processes that previously required manual intervention.
Through software robots, finance executives access data to steer the organization. And they can take the tedious, rote tasks off the finance teams’ desks so they can focus on more value-adding functions.
Here are some specific benefits of automation in finance.
Delivers cost savings
Delegating finance processes, such as invoice processing, accounts receivable, accounts payables, or closing purchase orders to software robots saves time and money. Bots handle transactional tasks, freeing employees to work on more complex jobs.
For example, Levi Strauss & Co. (a leading denim brand) struggled with manual data entry and repetitive tasks in their wholesale invoicing process. The company implemented RPA, deploying bots across different processes, resulting in:
- Time savings of nearly 750 hours
- Reduced operational costs
- Improved invoice tracking management
- Workers have more time to reskill and pursue more rewarding work
Ensures regulatory compliance and strengthens governance
Many companies in the finance sector work round the clock to meet required timeframes governed by compliance regulations and ensure accuracy. Otherwise, any mistakes could cost them millions.
RPA automates manual process controls while tightening governance and financial processes, ensuring higher accuracy and better adherence to compliance rules.
Improves speed and accuracy
There’s no telling how long different companies in the finance industry take to close their books after each quarterly close.
RPA bots make the process faster and without human errors, delivering financial data on demand. This way, finance teams are more productive and engaged, as they have the information they need to make better business decisions.
Creates business resilience
RPA eliminates repetitive, manual data- and document-intensive tasks, which helps finance teams adapt to change.
Improves cash flow
By automating tasks such as invoicing and reconciliation, finance teams can streamline the accounts payable and receivable functions, improving your company’s cash flow and overall financial health.
Easier to program and works with your underlying business systems
RPA is cheaper, faster, and easier to program with little training, coding knowledge, or IT involvement than traditional automation software. If you have a team of business analysts who understand the process and workflow, they can easily program RPA technologies.
And RPA software—similar to Inscribe—doesn’t interrupt your business applications or systems. Instead, it runs separately and is easily implemented and altered.
Inscribe makes document review processes frictionless for your team and customers, while helping you manage risk better and reduce fraud.
Your human employees will only come manage quality control and maintain the RPA installation.
Scales with your business
There’s no limit to the number of processes or human activities RPA can automate. Typically, RPA-ready tasks are:
- Stable and standardized
- High-volume, high-frequency
- Highly organized
- Reliant on structured digital data
- Complex and scenario-based
- High in return on investment (ROI) potential
Ultimately, your company’s ability to keep pace with the change management it needs to sustain automation is the only limit to RPA’s scalability.
With these benefits in mind, let’s consider some of the most popular processes for finance automation.
4 robotic process automation applications in finance
According to Gartner, 80% of finance leaders plan to or have already implemented RPA.
And they're reaping the rewards: reduced costs, minimized effort, stronger controls, improved speed and accuracy, increased operational efficiency, and better customer service.
Bots handle repetitive tasks while employees focus on exception-based reviews.
RPA can assist in various areas, from financial planning and analysis to procure-to-pay to order-to-cash.
The way you manage supplier and vendor relationships says a lot about how you operate.
For instance, if you take a long time to issue purchase orders, onboard suppliers, and process invoices, it indicates disorganized processes—and it probably affects your customer service and ability to compete.
Automation ensures swift and accurate payments and receipt for necessary business services. This is possible using software bots that can:
- Verify and onboard vendors
- Extract unstructured data for faster vendor invoice processing
- Perform purchase order, invoice, receipt matching with precision
- Make the P2P cycle faster and more reliable
- Lower risk and keep suppliers happy
Doing business involves a range of activities, such as:
- Creating sales orders
- Client onboarding
- Generating invoices
- Processing payments
- Applying cash
- Managing credit
These processes involve lots of structured and unstructured data you must enter into different business systems and reconcile.
RPA bots can collect financial statements and enter critical data into your company’s accounts receivable system, accelerating the OTC cycle. This way, you’re always ready to accept payment.
Automation takes the manual work, delays, and discrepancies out of the OTC process while:
- Streamlining matching of payments to open invoices
- Lowering days-sales-outstanding
- Improving cash flow forecast
- Strengthening customer relationships
- Giving you a clearer view of where you are and what’s coming
The R2R or Account-to-Report process provides information into your business’s performance, like whether your strategy is working, or requires changing course.
But it’s challenging to do with structured and unstructured data scattered across your business in legacy systems, on-premises, or in the cloud.
Finance teams traditionally collected, consolidated, and reconciled such data—which is time-consuming. But the sooner they get the information to C-suite and other leaders, the quicker they can act.
RPA speeds up the R2R cycle so business leaders can get their hands on financial reports on strategies, budgets, forecasts, variance analysis, and governance.
Software bots fill the gaps in your business’s disparate systems, eliminating the manual data integration work in multiple business systems and applications.
Treasury operations and management
To manage cash flow, your treasury team needs a solid grip on moving targets, like interest and exchange rates, credit ratings, and regulatory mandates. Then they’ll need reliable, real-time data to make the right decisions.
RPA extracts data from bank statements and other financial documents, consolidates the information, then reconciles it with the cash position on your company’s balance sheet.
Software bots can collect and merge data from multiple sources across the enterprise, ensuring your corporate treasurers have the data to:
- Reduce overall cost of funds
- Maintain liquidity
- Mitigate financial and operational risk
RPA ensures you meet financial obligations to business stakeholders—employees, vendors, shareholders, and lenders—and use the funds efficiently.
Bots streamline and simplify working capital management, so your business can keep running. They also provide data to support tax operations, such as accounting, filing, and calculation of sales and use tax.
Make finance more intelligent
Today’s chief financial officer (CFO) wants a more proactive finance function and well-defined business strategy so they can advise other departments and teams accordingly. But to get there, they need streamlined processes and better visibility into cash flow, risk, and performance across the organization.
RPA helps CFOs automate finance activities to simplify core internal transactions, establish standardized reporting mechanisms, and work more efficiently.
Talk to an expert today to find out how to implementing RPA can help you eliminate manual data- and document-intensive processes.