RPA seems to be gaining a lot of interest from financial services professionals and finance departments. Source: Shutterstock

RPA seems to be gaining a lot of interest from financial services professionals and finance departments. Source: Shutterstock

Can RPA can help finance departments save 25,000 hours annually?

FINANCE departments do a lot of repetitive work, that is no secret. From processing invoices, registering vendors, making payments, and managing the company’s working capital — there’s a lot of manual work involved.

Given the nature of the job, the finance department is one of the best places to start a robotic process automation (RPA) project. It’s why RPA is making waves in forums and conferences that involve finance professionals.

Adopting RPA in finance means the team doesn’t need to make any manual entries, saving human effort and eliminating the chance of human errors.

Human errors, in the past, have been a significant cause for concern because they’re hard to find and fix unless an audit is conducted — by which time, the damage is somewhat already done.

Given the small cost associated with deploying RPA, it seems as though finance professionals have a lot to gain from giving the technology a shot.

Freeing up the time of executives is expected to especially benefit professionals looking to lift the role of the finance divisions from a support function to a core advisory unit in the overall business.

According to a recent Gartner study, finance departments can save their teams from 25,000 hours of avoidable rework caused by human errors by deploying RPA in financial reporting. For a firm with 40 full-time accounting staff, that is an annual saving of US$878,000.

“The departments that have experimented with RPA in their reporting processes, however, report a series of additional benefits, from less staff time fixing mistakes and more time allocated to higher-value work. The result is typically higher employee engagement and less turnover,” said Gartner Finance Practice Research VP Dennis Gannon.

Automating basic workflows in the finance department often allow employees to focus on optimizing working capital, understanding and dealing with bad debts, and even creating policies for better management of suppliers and customers.

In other words, RPA helps the finance department take on a more strategic role — which can work wonders for organizations looking to get the most out of their resources to thrive in the digital era.

“Accounting leaders who fully embrace RPA go beyond simplistic metrics and view the technology as a boost to their employee value proposition.

“Most employees will welcome the opportunity to avoid tedious rework in favor of the more strategic activities that only a human can do,” Gartner’s Gannon said.

The think tank’s study found that 88 percent of corporate (finance) controllers expect to implement RPA by next year.

Although analysts did sense some hesitation to get started with RPA, it seems as though the benefits far outweigh any concerns.