September 3, 2020

Is RPA the Answer to Modern Accounting Problems?


By the end of 2020, Deloitte predicts that almost three quarters of organisations will embark on a journey to implement robotic process automation (RPA) in some form. The increasing adoption of RPA is largely owed to the fact that the technology continues to meet and exceed expectations across industries.

RPA is already delivering value, and organisations are achieving significant benefits such as improved compliance, heightened productivity, reduced costs and more accurate work output. In the world of accounting, RPA replaces a variety of manual processes while successfully getting the job done quickly. And the potential for RPA in accounting continues to expand.

Continue reading as we explore the reasons why embracing technological innovation such as RPA is a great solution to help professional service providers deal with modern accounting problems.

Is RPA Software Really the Answer to Modern Accounting Problems?

Accountancy is traditionally a very process-driven industry, which makes implementing new technology and embracing innovation a challenge in practice. With digital transformation and technological innovation developing at a faster pace than ever before,the accounting industry must adapt to new ways of working in order to continue thriving. 

RPA is a form of business process automation powered by software robots or AI workers. Even although accounting firms might still have a long road ahead to completely realise streamlined processes and enhanced efficiencies, RPA holds particular promise. 

So, how exactly is this new generation of AI robots helping to solve modern problems in the world of accounting?

Freeing Accountants from Manual, Time-Consuming Tasks

By using and implementing new RPA technologies, accountants no longer have to dedicate as much time, energy or resources to painstaking manual tasks. Instead, accounting professionals can focus on more meaningful work that requires human-to-human interaction or nuanced analysis.

As one example, RPA helps accountants complete financial closure agreements between their clients. Traditionally, this undertaking would have required multiple individuals across different departments working with data scattered across multiple spreadsheets and subledgers. Now, this once tedious and long-winded task has been mitigated by RPA technologies. 

The average amount of avoidable manual processes  in accounting departments can take up to 30% of a full-time employee's time. When RPA is fully implemented, firms can potentially save up to as many as 25,000 hours per year.

Enhancing Regulatory Compliance

Successfully implemented RPA has helped more than 91% of companies improve compliance. In the world of accounting, compliance typically requires a considerable amount of financial and human resources. The consequences for firms who don’t take regulatory compliance seriously can be detrimental. Simply put, lawsuits and a severely damaged public image aren’t worth the risk.

When processing invoices for example, contract data must be validated to ensure compliance with all regulations and contract terms. RPA technology has the ability to safely and securely automate the compliance process, giving accounting professionals and their clients confidence the job is being done to a high-standard. 

Automation delivers a greater degree of accuracy along with the added bonus of long-term cost savings. RPA solutions help accounting firms to handle data safely and consistently aligned with evolving governmental regulations like the European Union’s (EU’s) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Using RPA for Accounting to Gain a Competitive Edge in the Market

As we’ve outlined, RPA has the capacity to improve productivity and simplify compliance for accountants. But software robots also help accounting firms maintain a high standard of  competitiveness through the client’s lifecycle.

RPA technology is a master in accurate data maintenance. In practice, automation technology helps smooth out and streamline the client onboarding process for accounting firms. All new customers have to go through some form of vetting procedure to be successfully onboarded, and their personal data periodically must be validated and kept up to date regularly. 

With a simple and painless onboarding process, accounting firms have the ability to gain a competitive edge in a crowded market by providing a swift and accurate service. Not only will accounting professionals have more opportunity to nurture client relationships from the very start, but clients too will receive a more satisfying and valuable accounting service.

Why Modern Accountants Should Embrace RPA

Now that we’ve covered a few of the benefits of adopting RPA powered technologies, it’s important to highlight how those advantages can be turned into a reality for modern accountants. Much of the change has to come from within firms. Accountancy professionals must recalibrate their attitudes and embrace positive technological disruption.

Efficiency and productivity are naturally the overarching goal of any successful accounting firm. RPA technology takes on the tiresome manual tasks and completes them in quick-time. As a result, accounting professionals are far more productive, and can shift their attention towards more meaningful or human-focused work.

While accountants might feel nervous about changing up processes after such a long time, RPA is a great place for firms to start in the move towards adopting other forms of innovative technology. Firms can begin by introducing RPA solutions today and gradually adopt more Intelligent Automation (IA) much easier down the line.

Innovation should always be approached as a cost-saver rather than a cost-creator for accounting firms. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting firms have been put to the test where their operations and client relationships are concerned. Investing in innovative technology - like RPA - has shown the importance of moving with the times to stand strong in an uncertain world.

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