Robotic process automation (RPA) is rapidly making an impression on a number of industries, and so much so that the market is expected to grow at a significant CAGR of 39.9% from 2023 to 2030.
The finance sector, like many others, is inundated by manual, time-consuming tasks that are hindering efficiencies and taking too long to complete, making it ideal for automation. However, strong leadership needs to own the process of implementation to ensure that any integration project doesn’t inadvertently hinder staff more. Here is what you need to consider to enable a smooth transition.
Where RPA can be applied
Regardless of the financial discipline your organisation is focused in, RPA is likely to benefit your operations in one or more ways. Processes automated using RPA technologies are completed consistently and without error or fatigue brought about by extreme repetition. By automating the repetitive, tedious tasks that employees spend much of their time completing, it unleashes their potential to address higher-value and more meaningful work for both the employee and the organisation.
A key use case is management of invoices. In the largest organisations, these can number in the tens of thousands, leaving finance staff with the headache of inputting multiple sets of data for payments to suppliers and customers. RPA, combined with other supporting technologies such as intelligent document processing (IDP), can automatically extract relevant data from a variety of sources, all while consistently learning the nuances between supplier and vendor invoices.
Human processing errors are not only inefficient and costly, but pose a risk to your organisation’s compliance. RPA can help your financial institution meet a range of regulatory and governance requirements that are likely to impact on most Finance Authority-based firms.
The technology can also replace human resource where needed. Take for example an accounting firm that needs to bring on temporary hires to handle busy periods, such as the end of the tax year. Rather than pay a premium for specialist staff, RPA can take responsibility for such tasks.
Implementing within best practice
Qualitative and quantitative improvements on process metrics can come from successful RPA implementation, as well as progress towards organisational goals. However, such projects can go wrong without the proper buy-in at the top level, plus planning and consideration. A common error made is relying too heavily on the IT professionals to implement an RPA program without direct business partnership to help guide the solutions to solve challenges. The RPA technology implementation team understands the tool capability, but the finance leaders and teams understand the issues that are preventing them from meeting their obligations or goals.
A lack of knowledge or relevant skills in using RPA technologies may also be causing you concern. However, unlike numerous software applications, RPA can be leveraged by those without a specialist knowledge of coding. Many of the RPA tools today allow for a managed and controlled method of enabling business users and citizen developers to take advantage of the power of RPA. With specific roles, permissions, actions and functions governed by the RPA technology implementation team, the citizen developers can build automations that meet the standards and guidelines your organisation needs to meet.
RPA platforms can also ensure compliance with regulations around information and data security. Oversight is provided as to the implementations by citizen developers and the systems they interact with, helping to mitigate any risk.
The democratisation of skill development
The accessibility of RPA presents an opportunity to develop the skills of employees and help them take the next steps in their careers. A staggering 90% of finance organisations are experiencing skills shortages, which is affecting productivity and growth. Employees in the sector have the chance to take ownership of RPA projects and devise solutions that can streamline their work. Initial input from a team of external experts can help hesitant employers and employees to embrace the technology and understand how automation can make a difference to their working day.
On top of value provided to existing employees, RPA knowledge can be shared with new hires to encourage an automation centre of excellence. Following successful implementation, it’s key to consider how this has impacted different roles and training to take on new responsibilities may be required as the mundane tasks become automated.
Achieving long-term success
RPA is the tool that allows time-poor employees to escape the mundanity of manual tasks and apply themselves to value-adding projects, all while bringing costs down and ensuring compliance with regulations. To make these benefits a reality, your organisation must facilitate open communication between departments to clarify common challenges, tap into expertise to kickstart projects and work with employees to grow their digital capabilities.
About the Author
Sandor Bathory is VP Robotic Process Automation Services at BP3. BP3 gives people faster ways to get things done. We streamline and automate the processes that drive everything from customer experience to employee productivity. It’s no secret that companies are riddled with all kinds of broken processes, but the real shocker is that many of the so-called solutions are just as broken as the process they’re trying to fix. To create more successful, lasting efficiencies, BP3 brings more focus, more foresight, and more follow-up to every project. It’s how we’ve achieved an unprecedented 99.9% success rate, and why some of the world’s most respected brands — such as eBay, Charter, Whole Foods, and others — rely on BP3.
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