Friday, 1 January 2016

Robotic Process Automation in Finance & Accounting


Recently Australian media has reported that some financial services giants are exploring the possibility of automating back office and finance functions. It heralds the beginning of a trend that is expected to affect white-collar jobs in much the same way that machines displaced blue-collar workers on assembly lines in 1950s.
It comes after one of big four banks revealed that it had been refining over the last 12 months a program in the emerging field of robotics process automation(RPA) which will change the composition of its workforce. Bank of America Merrill Lynch also predicts 47 per cent of American jobs could be automated by 2020 - including white collar finance jobs.

Software is going to take a bigger share of the corporate-finance workload. As it does the finance profession is bracing for a wave of technology-driven change greater than that bought about by outsourcing and offshoring over the last decade.

"It’s time to move beyond redundant practices and modernize the way finance wants to work. "

 Finance and accounting(F&A) automation

In many large organizations, there are astonishingly large numbers of inefficient processes based on outdated or outgrown systems,  in particular in the F&A area, Financial processes are constantly challenged with manual processing and the need for controls and improved visibility. 
From invoice data, sales orders, payment process to the payroll running and the month end reporting,  financial process automation can cover most of processes in F&A. Automation tools offer a broad range of functionality and solutions, coupled with a deep understanding of financial process best practises, to open up the possibilities of what efficient, mature and fully automated processes will bring to the business.

F&A is an attractive target for RPA utilisation based on these processes have some attributes that lend themselves to the technology.

   Efficiency and time saving 

Few F&A employees enjoy the tedium of repetitious work, all of which can be done by finance automation, in particular in the areas of accounts payable, payroll and financial reporting, software robots are quickly configured to gain rapid access to data across multiple application and databases – then configured to consolidate and manipulate the data. This capability is often very useful for quick, customized and accurate consolidation data for month end, quarter end and year end financial reporting.

   Error free

With the automation software, data can be transferred and processed seamlessly within the system or between the systems. It will invariably execute a process as configured – without deviations or risk of fraudulent actions or inappropriate data use. As the software robot run through the workflow processes as being programmed it creates audit trails and logs as needed for regulatory compliance.


Software robots can be cloned and deployed within hours or even minutes.  This highly flexible scalability allows for easy accommodation of work peaks such as end of month, quarter and year activity levels.

   Cloud technology

From small accounting softwares to ERP like SAP or Oracle, powerful cloud-based technology and real-time automation to give accounting and finance teams power over their processes. They truly modernize processes and empower real productivity gains.

Automation of those processes delivers quick wins as it improves day-to-day visibility of financial status and provides a better basis for business decisions. It’s about saving money, gaining control of the business processes, and recouping a significant amount of valuable time for the organisation.

by Chen Yang