The emerging field of robotic process automation (RPA) in finance is proving to be a real game-changer for finance teams. Instead of being chained to spreadsheets all day, RPA gives finance professionals more input in strategic business decisions.

Finance automation lets finance professionals complete tedious tasks in a fraction of the time it usually takes. Driving greater efficiency and compliance while reducing human error are just a few of the reasons why automation in finance is so beneficial.

But why should businesses embrace finance automation? And, how are automation and machine learning impacting the everyday roles of finance professionals?

In this post, you’ll find out how to use RPA to streamline financial processes. We're also sharing five amazing benefits of using automated RPA software.

Here’s a breakdown of what we’re covering:

   1. Consistent accuracy

   2. Increased productivity and efficiency

   3. Automation in finance is a cost-effective solution

   4. Manages regulatory compliance

   5. Boosts employee engagement and fulfillment

What is robotic process automation in finance?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is software that automates repetitive tasks and processes. Think of it like a swarm of low-code user-friendly software ‘bots’ that access user interfaces to automate tedious finance tasks, such as:

  • Accounts reconciliation
  • Financial statements
  • Invoice processing
  • Data entry
  • Compliance reporting
  • Reports
  • Order to cash
  • Procure to pay
  • Tax reporting automation
  • Accounts receivables
  • Other finance and accounting processes

…and more.

RPA tools and software are extremely intelligent. Software robots can do many amazing things to make your life as a finance professional that much easier. Some of which, include:

  • Understanding what’s displayed on a screen
  • Navigating complex systems
  • Extracting data
  • Reviewing reports
  • Flagging potential issues

Robotic process automation can perform a range of tasks but you must understand what RPA is, and what it isn’t.

For example, RPA is computer-coded software. So, don’t expect any life-like robots sitting at your desk any time soon.

The main focus of RPA in finance is to replace repetitive and rule-based tasks. Finance automation software also tends to use cross-functional and cross-application macros.

Here are some specific examples from Deloitte’s report on what RPA in finance can do:

  • Opening emails and joining attachments
  • Automatically logging into various applications on the web
  • Shifting folders and files
  • Copying and pasting
  • Completing forms
  • Collecting data from databases and the web
  • Making calculations
  • Connecting to system API
  • Extracting structured data from documents
  • Gathering stats from social media
  • Following if/then decisions and rules
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5 advantages of finance automation software

Finance automation is putting an end to repetitive tasks and helping finance teams embrace digital transformation. But just how popular is RPA in finance?

Well, Gartner would have us believe it’s highly popular. According to their white paper, ‘Robotic Process Automation in Finance,’ 80% of finance leaders have implemented or are planning to implement robotic process automation (RPA).

With so many finance leaders holding up a torch for RPA and finance automation software, it makes you wonder why. What is it about RPA that has convinced all of these finance leaders that robots are the way forward?

That’s what we wanted to find out. So, here are the top five benefits of RPA in finance:

1. Consistent accuracy

Humans make mistakes. There’s no shame in that. But what if you could remove human error and ensure consistent accuracy across critical processes within the finance function? Well, it’s now possible thanks to RPA software.

Reducing the margin of error is one of the best benefits of automating key financial processes. Human error can cause upheaval and negative consequences that could ripple throughout the business.

For example, errors in accounts payable could lead to unplanned costs for the business. Or an incorrect or duplicated invoice could set about a double payment catastrophe. Okay, that’s a little overdramatic, but you get the idea.

Robotic process automation can take human error off the table and help to achieve consistency and accuracy across the organization.

2. Increased productivity and efficiency

RPA and AI (Artificial Intelligence) reduce processing times and streamline various processes across the finance function. According to research, 68% of global workers believe that automation makes them more productive. And since the robots are handling mundane tasks, 42% believe RPA allows greater opportunity to focus on more important work.

Automating manual tasks that take a lot of time and mental brain-power is music to many finance professionals’ ears. Instead of manually entering data from one spreadsheet to another, the software does it for them.

Not to mention, modern technology is incredibly fast. The right finance automation software can retrieve and compile data from multiple systems at the same time.

Maximum efficiency and improved productivity lead to increased gains for the business. When you spend less time on tedious tasks, you'll have more time to contribute toward strategic business decisions.

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3. Automation in finance is a cost-effective solution

Did you know that RPA drives major cost savings? Many companies that have implemented robotic process automation in finance see substantial ROI. Time-to-value varies across different companies, but the process of reducing manual work hours leads to reduced cost and increased output per employee.

You could save between 25% and 50% according to Kofax, which we doubt any company would say no to. RPA can also help to drive growth by analyzing customer behavior data. Grouping customers into specific categories and targeting products or services that are most likely to grab their attention is just one possible tactic to help generate sales.

And finally, RPA isn’t going to cost you a lot. It’s actually pretty cheap compared to some other high-tech automated software. In some cases, it’s more affordable to use RPA than to hire a full-time employee.

Gartner reports that robotic process automation technology usually costs one-third the amount of an offshore employee and one-fifth of an onshore employee.

4. Manages regulatory compliance

Regulatory fines and damage to your company’s reputation are serious concerns for any business. The good news is that RPA can strengthen your company’s compliance. It consolidates data and even locates and stores specific data to help an auditor complete accurate reviews. In turn, this leads to efficient decision-making.

By improving business operations, robotic process automation in finance can increase the efficiency of a compliance program. Reducing legal issues and saving money at the same time are just two extra bonuses of using RPA to improve compliance.

According to Deloitte, confidence in RPA’s capacity to deliver benefits such as improved compliance, quality, and improved productivity remain high (in the 85% to 92% range).

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5. Boosts employee engagement and fulfillment

Finance professionals are the unsung heroes of countless organizations around the world. They’re the ones who collect and analyze data and help senior management make better-informed business decisions. So, why not make their lives easier by implementing some useful RPA solutions to help streamline the existing process?

RPA has been known to help employees reduce stress by taking manual and repetitive tasks off their plates. Manually entering data into spreadsheets should be left where it belongs – in the distant past. Nobody wants to sit at a desk all day entering data. Outdated systems decrease productivity and can lead to employee burnout.

Nowadays, new software and technology have automated data collection and organization in ways never before thought possible.

The result?

Happier and more engaged employees.

Key takeaways

  1. The main focus of RPA in finance is to replace repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
  2. Reducing the margin of error is one of the best benefits of finance automation. It helps to achieve consistency and accuracy across the organization.
  3. Research has shown that RPA improves productivity. 68% of global workers believe that automation makes them more productive.
  4. It’s cheaper to invest in RPA technology than to hire a new employee to complete the same, mundane tasks. In fact, RPA technology usually costs one-third the amount of an offshore employee and one-fifth of an onshore employee.
  5. By improving business operations, robotic process automation in finance can increase a company’s compliance.

Want to read more articles about robot process automation in finance? Check out our library of finance transformation articles right here.