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RPA to the Rescue – Deploying Automations During Covid-19

With the global shift to remote work, the need for business continuity and resilience has never been greater. As the pandemic heightened digital demands, companies new to automation were propelled into adopting the technology, while those with existing automation programs were forced to move up their roadmaps for RPA. Apart from increased adoption in expected industries like healthcare and pharmaceuticals, RPA use has accelerated across mortgage lending, education services, payroll services, and supply chain and logistics companies over the past year. Given this rate of digital transformation, we have had several clients for which we have had to quickly deploy automation solutions to meet new business needs during the pandemic.

One client, a prominent North American Accounting Firm, had sought the help of our team to process a large number of IRS Forms 941, the Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund form. The company’s accounting department is responsible for collecting its clients’ filed IRS Forms 941, but needed to transfer the information from these outdated forms to the new Form 941-X. The Accelirate team had been developing an automation to transfer the data from the Forms 941 to the 941-X prior to COVID-19. But once the pandemic hit, the client needed to factor Schedule B into the 941-X forms, requiring our experts to rearchitect their original automation.

Understanding the company’s need to quickly deploy a solution, Accelirate developed a Bot to capture the data from previously filed Forms 941 and transfer it to the Forms 941-X while also capturing clients tax updates after COVID-19 relief measures. In processing the data from Forms 941, the Bot would need to strategically translate the updates with appropriate validation requirements applied for each new term so the amended forms correctly reflect each client’s updated tax information.

To do this, the Bot retrieves Forms 941 as XML files via WebORS application, then uses Nuance to convert the files into PDF. The Bot extracts the values from the Form 941 and stores them. With a custom activity in Nuance, the Bot imports the stored data to fill Form 941-X. If the client has been affected by COVID-19 and is filing Schedule B, the Bot consults a data table supplied by the business containing Schedule B values like Company Name, Company Code, Amount Owed, Year Incurred, and Total Liabilities; then applies calculations in the appropriate fields to amend the values in Form 941-X.

Accelirate’s automated solution helped the company correctly and efficiently reconcile its clients’ accounts and bring them to proper status for IRS Form 941-X, especially those impacted by COVID-19.

With business leaders planning to double down on automation investment in 2021 and embrace more intelligent automation solutions (See the RPA Census to read more about upcoming automation trends), these pandemic emergency automations have proven the worth of the technology for many organizations previously skeptical of its value. As the year continues, we expect to see increasing use cases for RPA to address COVID-related business challenges – particularly in expanding self-service, prioritizing speed and business resilience across supply chains, and implementing desktop automation across more customer-facing functions.

To see more automated solutions Accelirate developed to meet business demands during the pandemic, check out our COVID Quick Wins in Loan Servicing Case Study.