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7 real-world use cases for robotic process automation in accounting

Posted by Kanika Sinha

August 16, 2021    |     3-minute read (735 words)

Software that can automate routine, time-consuming tasks is catching hold in accounting. Commonly known as robotic process automation, the technology frees up staff to devote their skills to higher-value work.

Further, RPA can help ensure business continuity in the event of a disruption to the available workforce, compounding its importance for companies struggling with the effects of the pandemic.

Another benefit of RPA is that it reduces entry errors and speeds up processing. Although the field is still in its incipient stage, a growing number of firms are adapting RPA to stand out among competitors and improve financial results.

According to Grand View Research, RPA’s global market size will reach an estimated $11 billion by 2027, growing at a 34% compound annual growth rate through 2028. And a Deloitte Center for Controllership survey of about 1,700 finance and accounting professionals found that 52.8% reported their firms were planning digital improvements that included RPA.

So how can accounting professionals make good use of RPA? We have put together seven use cases for RPA technology in the field of accounting.

  1. Account reconciliation
Comparing transactions and account balances is an essential task. But the different processes, templates and approval requirements of the various subsystems this may entail can make it a mind-boggling task, especially when you must coordinate with audit and compliance rules.

Benefit of RPA for account reconciliation: Using software-based robots to reconcile your account will streamline the otherwise mundane process and deliver precise, fast results. 

  1. Invoice processing
Multiple formats, quality issues among scanned copies and even the use of several different languages can complicate manual invoice processing. A higher incidence of errors and slower processing time for manual invoice processing may result in penalties and delayed payments.

Through optical character recognition and natural language processing, software robots can read information from invoices regardless of differences in text and format. The bots then access the enterprise resource planning system to process the invoices individually.

Benefit of RPA for invoice processing: An RPA platform can be used end-to-end to move an invoice from receipt to payment in minutes. The software’s bots can also trigger email notifications to concerned employees in the event of discrepancies and approaching payment deadlines.

  1. Sales order processing
Sales order processing is another routine, rule-based task of businesses that consumes a lot of staff time. RPA’s bots can create orders, initiate delivery, update inventory and prepare sales invoices, as well as post the revenue entry into the system.

Benefit of RPA for sales order processing: The entire process can be expedited with higher accuracy.

  1. Accounts receivable
Manually producing and sending invoices to customers, plus linking the right payment to the right accounts, takes a lot of time, is inefficient and at the mercy of human error. Programmed software robots can minimize the risk of error by scanning and copying data to the appropriate fields. 

Benefit of RPA to accounts receivable: Data is processed more accurately and in the fraction of time it would otherwise take. Your accounting department can focus on duties that add more value to the company, such as nurturing relationships with customers and following up with those who have outstanding balances.

  1. Inventory management
Staying on top of your inventory and managing it efficiently is a cakewalk for businesses leveraging RPA.  Software bots track inventory levels and manage inventory waste and defects.

Benefit of RPA to inventory management: Software bots generate real-time reports on product stocks and notify managers when product stock levels are low. They can automatically reorder items that fall below a certain threshold.

  1. Closing financial statements
The financial close remains a bottleneck and source of frustration for accounting teams. Dealing with the minutiae of business transactions, evaluating exchange gains and losses etc. is not an easy job to do when performed manually.

Benefit of RPA for closing financial statements: The RPA platform can provide accountants respite from the process. Bots can update the comparative figures for financial statements and set up value adjustments and entries in no time with 100% accuracy, ensuring a timely and correct close.

  1. Internal auditing 
Internal audits have historically incorporated many computer-based tools, but the process can be further improved and automated using RPA. 

Benefit of RPA to internal auditing: Software robots can take over the time-consuming, and repetitive activities that auditors perform, freeing their time to investigate accounting anomalies. This in turn boosts the quality and efficacy of the audit.

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