When you picture your finance team, you may not envision robots as being part of it, but the reality is that this is a very distinct possibility in today’s increasingly digital world. Robot process automation (RPA) allows you to provide precise financial forecasts and personalized services via automating certain functions.
If you think RPA may be a passing fad, think again. The RPA market is projected to hit $2.5 billion this year, and grow at a compound annualized growth rate of 70 to 85 percent, according to research from the Everest Group.
To get a handle on what RPA can do for your company and what it entails, check out the following guide.
1. Software Replaces Humans on Repetitive Tasks
RPA is a category of software that allows your business to automate functions that previously required significant human interaction but not a tremendous amount of thought. This frees up those employees to focus on more thought-intensive responsibilities. For instance, RPA software can automatically reconcile account balances, significantly reducing the time to perform this task. Because RPA’s capabilities are advancing every day via the latest technological innovations, it’s expected to create a major transformation to the finance and accounting functions of every business.
In addition, RPA can save your business money. According to a Gartner survey, organizations are expected to lower operational costs by 30 percent within the next four years, thanks to the use of RPA. A separate McKinsey study found that companies adopting RPA enjoyed a return on investment of between 30 and 200 percent in the first year.
2. RPA Welcomed by Many Staff Members
One reason that some companies don’t bring on RPA is because they believe employees will be disappointed that some of their tasks are being replaced, but the reality is that RPA takes over many of the responsibilities that those employees disliked to begin with. As staff members are asked to take on more work than ever, using RPA to eliminate some of the monotonous tasks that they don’t enjoy will lead to a more productive, happy and less burdened team.
Some companies are using RPA in a limited number of banking functions, but aren’t yet realizing the full potential of the software. If the financial services industry could expand it further, it would reduce the number of hours that humans must perform repetitive tasks such as automatically generating financial reports and compliance documents, filing the paperwork required when customers open new accounts, automating the underwriting process of mortgage loans, transcribing conversations that take place on recorded lines and cutting the time required of loan processing decisions.
Although RPA cuts the need for human involvement in many banking tasks, it does require humans to create the systems, set them up and “train” the programs on each financial system’s proprietary processes. However, although that setup period can be lengthy, the work put in early will allow for the elimination of hundreds of hours of work later for everyone involved in the banking process.
3. Involve the Whole Team
The decision of whether to implement RPA, and how it will be managed once you do, is something that should be discussed across teams at your organization. It will require the input of engineers, the finance team, the employees affected, and the HR staff, among others. You want to ensure that the rollout doesn’t stress your staff — because even though it will free up staff time in the future, the early days of RPA will require a tremendous amount of time and energy to get it right.
Implementing an RPA system isn’t something you can just completely “set and forget." Because these programs deal with sensitive financial data, you should always be checking the inputs to the system, as well as the output. This can take many shapes, such as performing regular audits of the RPA’s work and running analytical reports of the system.
4. Be Strategic in Implementing RPA
It’s easy to focus on using RPA in all the areas where you’re hoping to save money, but you should be strategic as you roll it out across your company. You can maximize the utility of your RPA program if you take the time to determine where it can optimize your processes to boost ROI the fastest. Focus on using the system in those areas first, then roll it out to the remaining functions afterward. By bringing the team in during the strategic decision-making period, you’ll increase the ROI you can enjoy by using the RPA system while also freeing up the maximum number of employees to work on other responsibilities.
5. Consider Outsourcing
If you’re wondering how you can bring robotic software into your office to get started with RPA, you aren’t alone. But you don’t necessarily have to invest in RPA technology to see its vast benefits. Instead, you can outsource your financial services to gain access to RPA systems that can help you transform your financial programs from manual processes to automated ones.
Outsourcing also gives you the additional benefit of ensuring that experts are managing the RPA at all time rather than having to assign specific staff members to oversee its operations.