Chief Financial Officers face increased pressure to deliver for their employers and stakeholders. Whether preventing fraud, investing in cybersecurity, unifying disparate and siloed data, or navigating a complex compliance, tax, and regulatory environment, CFOs need every tool to get more done with less.
One such tool is Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, as it is commonly known. According to Gartner, “Eighty percent of finance leaders agree finance must significantly accelerate its implementation of digital technology, such as RPA and artificial intelligence, to support the business by 2025.”
What is RPA & How Can CFOs Benefit?
RPA refers to using software robots or “bots” to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. These bots can be programmed to complete tasks such as data entry, transaction processing, and generating reports. The goal of RPA is to free up time and resources for employees to focus on more value-added tasks, such as analyzing data and making future-state strategic decisions.
One of the main benefits of RPA for CFOs and their corporate finance teams is increased accuracy and speed. RPA bots follow predefined rules and instructions, meaning they are less prone to errors than humans. In addition, bots can complete tasks much faster than people, resulting in significant time savings. If time is money, this can lead to cost savings for the organization, improved productivity, and increased customer satisfaction.
For example, imagine you have a team of employees responsible for reconciling bank statements every month. Reconciliation is a predictable, repetitive, and time-consuming task requiring much attention to detail. By implementing RPA, you could automatically reconcile the statements, freeing your team to focus on other tasks. Once again, RPA delivers time and cost savings.
RPA can also help improve the accuracy of data entry by employees. By automating routine tasks, you can reduce the risk of human error and promptly ensure that your financial reporting is accurate and up-to-date. Unlike our reconciliation example, the demands of compliance and regulatory reporting mean errors could have severe consequences for your organization.
According to research on human error, when carrying out data entry tasks on spreadsheets people tend to achieve an accuracy rate of approximately 95%. As the complexity of the spreadsheet increases, the likelihood of making a processing error increases significantly, to the point of reaching almost 100%. Further, the research found that humans are much less successful at detecting those errors, with individual inspectors finding only 50%-60% of seeded errors.
Another benefit of RPA is the ability to scale bots up or down as needed. For example, during busy periods such as month-end close, you can program your bots to work overtime to help your team keep up with the workload. Conversely, you can scale back the number of bots used to save resources during slower periods. This flexibility can help your organization respond quickly to changing business needs and demands. It also empowers CFOs to maximize team member workload utilization.
Several RPA solutions are available today, including Automation Anywhere and Microsoft Power Automate (among others).
Automation Anywhere is a comprehensive RPA platform that allows you to design, build, and deploy bots for various tasks. It also includes features such as process discovery, which helps you identify opportunities for automation within your organization.
Microsoft Power Automate is a cloud-based RPA solution that allows you to automate tasks across various applications and platforms. It includes pre-built templates and integrations with other Microsoft products, making it a convenient solution for organizations already using Microsoft products and services.
ZAG’s data and software solutions team is platform agnostic, using the most appropriate tool to solve client growth objectives. As noted, there are many platforms available to your business. The two shared here are excellent places to start your automation journey.
Benefits of RPA
Depending on the complexity of the process to be automated, implementing RPA can deliver quick wins for organizations of all sizes.
For companies with mature, highly interconnected environments, you must consider factors such as the complexity of the tasks you want to automate, the availability of resources, and the potential return on investment.
Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks can free your team to focus on value-adding tasks, improve data accuracy, and provide greater flexibility. Most importantly, it helps you deliver on your promises to your customers.
If automating tasks to improve efficiency, fill hiring gaps, and free your team to focus on future-state projects sounds like a good idea, we can help. Contact us to discuss how.