How RPA can change the way your finance team works

16th Apr 2020
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How much time per day does your team spend doing manual, repetitive tasks? Imagine if those monotonous tasks could become a thing of the past, allowing employees to focus all of their energy on skilled and valuable work. It sounds too good to be true, but emerging technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are increasingly making this a reality for businesses. A recent survey from Protiviti of 450 executives found a 73% upswing in employee engagement from less repetitive activities thanks to RPA.

So what is RPA and how could it revolutionise the way you and your team work? This article will explore the ins and outs of this new technology and explore the specific benefits for finance departments.

What is RPA?

RPA stands for Robot Process Automation and refers to software tools that automate manual, repetitive tasks usually carried out by humans. Activities such as data entry, simple administrative processes and even basic customer service responses can now be performed by software. One example you’ve probably come across are chatbots, now common on a lot of business websites, which greet visitors and can help with simple queries.

The idea is not to replace human workers but rather to supplement and streamline human work. Some tasks will always need a human touch – specifically ones that require creativity, people skills or decision making. RPA tools simply automate those monotonous, time-consuming jobs so that humans can concentrate on more skilled, value-generating tasks.

Time

There aren’t many, if any, areas of a business that wouldn’t benefit from RPA. Financial teams in particular have a lot to gain from automating certain processes.

The biggest change RPA can bring about concerns that most precious and rare commodity we could all do with more of: time. Repetitive, administrative processes are incredibly time-hungry and leave far fewer hours to be dedicated to more valuable pursuits. One survey presented in America by Time Etc found that for 90% of those surveyed, creative work took up less than 25% of their time.

One of the biggest manual tasks for finance teams is completing end-of-day processes. Day-end jobs such as calculating and circulating sales data and reconciling inventory against sales, are important but time-consuming tasks. They also require a certain amount of expertise, so they cannot be completed by personnel without adequate training. Through automating elements of the end-of-day process, RPA not only saves time but can also make tasks easier, allowing less-skilled members of staff to carry them out.

Accuracy

Not only will RPA tools save your team time but they will also produce more accurate results. Time-consuming, monotonous and repetitive tasks increase the potential for mistakes to be made when carried out by humans. Such errors can be costly – both in terms of time and money.

Utilising software to take on the burden of such work, meanwhile, avoids the pitfalls of the human attention span. No matter how long or monotonous the task, RPA will complete it reliably and free of errors.

Job satisfaction

An often overlooked benefit of new technologies like RPA is how it can improve employee satisfaction. After all, monotonous, menial jobs don’t just cause inefficiencies in the way your team works: they can also affect morale. Job satisfaction comes from thinking creatively, problem solving and utilising your full potential as a human being.

RPA will not only save time and provide accurate, reliable results but will also make employees happier. Freed from the burden of lengthy administrative tasks, your team can use the time otherwise spent on menial work on more fulfilling projects, in turn allowing them to flourish.

Unleash your team’s potential

Finance teams are particularly vulnerable to the inefficiencies and errors caused by repetitive menial tasks. This means that utilising RPA tools in this area presents an even greater opportunity. Time spent on manual processes may have been necessary in the past, but we live in a time when software can not only do these tasks more quickly but also often more effectively. Integrating RPA for essential functions such as payroll could be a major step forward for your business.

Harnessing RPA means simply liberating humans from work that is better done by a computer. This means time to focus on more valuable work, more accurate results and happier staff. This could be the most important change you make to your business this year.

Find out more

You can learn more about technology and trends in finance by reading our guide to digital transformation.