Robotic Process Automation in Accounting and Finance
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Accounting and Finance
Research shows that from 2015-2017, ‘Accounts Payable’ is anticipated to be one of the areas with the highest percentage of Robotic Process Automation implementations. Most accounting and finance tasks are by their very nature rules based. Automation challenges appear when an organization starts to deal with unstructured data inputs such as invoices and statements. In such cases RPA needs to be accompanied by a “smart” OCR solution. Such an OCR solution not only converts unstructured documents into structured data, it also gets progressively better as it “learns” the various formats and types of incoming documents.
Many F&A tasks are prime candidates for RPA. Accounts payable, Accounts Receivable, Travel and Expense Management, Journal Entries and Month End book closings are all areas that can benefit from robotic process automation
AR Activities are generally less dependent on outside documents and hence better suited as a starting point for implementation of a digital accounting workforce. Some areas that can benefit are
- Sales Quote Generation
- Order Data Validation
- Customer Credit Monitoring
- Invoice Distribution
- Payment Matching and Processing
- AR Aging Follow-ups
Accounts Payable is one of the most manually intensive task within accounting divisions due to the sheer volume of unstructured data that needs to be processed. Legacy OCR solutions, either do not provide 100% accuracy or break when incoming document formats change. Newer breed of OCR solutions that apply AI and Machine Learning tend to provide much better accuracy and efficiency. Similarly, NLP can be applied to respond to vendor inquiries and further reduce the workload of accounting staff.
- Process Vendor Invoices
- Manage Vendor Payments
- Respond to Vendor Inquiries/Disputes
Travel and Expense
RPA can be beneficial in not only processing incoming T&E reports into the accounting systems, but also applying corporate policies to these expenses. Smart data analysis can be used to detect anomalies in T&E reports based on historical data. RPA Automation can also be deployed to perform an audit and play the role of the checker for these expenses.