Financial companies are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline operations, reducing costs by automating tedious tasks. This frees employees to focus on higher value work.
What is robotic process automation?
RPA is an application of software robots. These are governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes. A financial company can configure the RPA software robots to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other data systems. RPA can be used things as simple as automating a response to an email to deploying hundreds of software robots, each configured to automate a separate activity in an ERP platform.
Because Robotic Process Automation replicates the inputting behaviour of a worker, using the same software and user interfaces, there is none of the large-scale disruption associated with a technology roll out. A company may have spent years selecting and deploying software in their business. On top of this layers of security to protect the business. Robotic Process Automation allows for all this to remain in place. It does not need the opening up of systems to third-party APIs or the resulting potential security risks.
The ease of adopting Robotic Process Automation allows for focus on immediate benefits. These include cost reduction, operational efficiencies and reducing errors. RPA automates existing systems rather than replacing them.
The IT resource needed for an RPA rollout is low as there are no new IT platforms or services to be deployed. And the benefits are faster to be realised. Which makes Robotic Process Automation deployments easy to justify economically.
What are the benefits of RPA for financial companies?
In our experience, there is a very strong case for the use of RPA software robots in financial. This is because of the masses of data agencies need to manage to be competitive and compliant; there is a lot of value software robots will add at both front and back end.
Here are some more specific examples.
- Procure to Pay Automation Gaps: Supplier / Customer on boarding: Automate the full end to end, RPA can perform all checks in the same way a human would and complete your set report. Going online, logging into different applications to vet new suppliers, complete reports, check credit scores, tax data, etc. Uploading completed reports to existing systems
- Portal queries: Use RPA to automate to connect to all of your portals and automatically gather or post information either at pre-set times or as part of a defined workflow.
- Price comparisons: Have a bot running in the background monitoring suppliers to source a specific product with fluctuating prices, track changes and best pricing automatically with a robot.
- Background checks: Vetting suppliers’ or clients’ credentials on a periodic basis to ensure they meet your criteria.
- Contract terms: Automate contract checking (if standard repetitive queries) including invoicing. Vendor contract data can easily be validated against your data. Compliance & GDPR, same principle
- Quote & Supplier pricing comparisons: Pre-set the suppliers and requested information, press a button and the bot will gather all data (almost like “go compare or money supermarket”
- Order exception processing: Sales orders often have stipulations such as holding the price for a number of days. A robot can automatically do a price check and verify the current price against the sales order.
- Record to Report Automation Gaps: Supporting financial close: The financial close and reporting process encompasses all of the tasks and processes—from closing out subledgers to creating and delivering financial filings to regulatory bodies—which involves many systems, departments and individuals. The process requires posting data from sources such as Excel to these subledgers, a tedious undertaking that RPA can mitigate.
- Data extraction for accounting close: All over the business, departments and divisions record transactions in journals, which need to be consolidated and reconciled. A robot can gather and consolidate transactions and reconcile them in your ERP.
- Data management: Aggregating and analysing financial and operational performance is a business-critical function, but collecting, processing and delivering that information in a timely. Using RPA will enable you to automate this time-sensitive & consuming process. Gathering data and offering insight.
What are the pitfalls of RPA?
Installing software robots bots has taken a lot longer and is more complex than most organisations have hoped it would be. Expectations have been set too high with people thinking they will be able to automate 100% of the processes. And far too often the projects have failed because they have been scoped out by inexperienced staff. This leads to the selection of the wrong technology and the desired outcomes never being achievable.
These issues are avoided by working with a consultancy who not only understand Robotic Process Automation but also have experience in the financial industry. While there is an overlap across all industries, financial has its own peculiarities which need to be accounted for when specifying, deploying and managing a Robotic Process Automation solution.
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