Implementing RPA in Your Finance Function? Learn Best Practice From Nordic Transport Group

23rd Jun 2021
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A CASE OF HOW TO WORK SMARTER WITH RPA: WHAT TO AVOID AND HOW TO DO

How to easily automate some of the more repetitive and tedious tasks in the daily workflow at your finance department?

It is a question most CFOs and Finance Managers should consider in 2021 since the role of the entire finance function and finance professionals is changing in line with the increased digitization of companies worldwide. Slowly we are moving away from CFOs and Finance Managers just being number crunchers, working behind the scenes. Instead, finance professionals are going to collect data not behind the desk but out in the organization. It is from this point of view that Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is interesting.

But what should you be aware of when implementing RPA, what specific challenges can it help you overcome, and how to use RPA as smart as possible in the finance function?

Nordic Transport Group (NTG) gives its take on this. In this blog post, you will learn how NTG is using RPA daily to improve its financial reporting. Read on to hear more about NTG’s learnings and experiences of implementing RPA into the finance function. 

LET RPA HELP YOU FOCUS ON THE VALUE-ADDING TASKS

Companies and employees have never been busier than they are today, and likewise, the volumes of data are exploding. To meet the increasing demand for financial advice which can help management make the best decisions possible, finance professionals have to go out and talk to people in the organization to gather data and produce the much-needed in-depth financial insights.

Influencing decision-making is going to be the primary job of finance professionals soon. To allocate time to financial insights, in-depth financial analysis, and advising management RPA can be a smart solution.

Implementing RPA has proven to create a more efficient workflow, minimize errors and save time which can be used for more cognitive and creating demanding tasks. Nordic Transport Group (NTG) has implemented RPA in their finance department and has gained some valuable experiences in exactly this area. Here is their view on RPA and the finance professional’s role:

“We have time to enter professionally interesting dialogues and take on the tasks that we find fun and professionally challenging. Our employees are allowed to use their professional skills and education and do not get bored by performing administrative tasks – these are simply automated with RPA” – Morten Wied Head of Group Finance at NTG.

The purpose of RPA is to minimize the manual work on the computer done by employees on a day-to-day basis which is exactly what NTG has used RPA for.

THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF RPA 

NTG began from scratch when implementing RPA in the finance department. Due to this, they know what to do and what not to do. They also know how to get started. The team began by picking the low-hanging fruits and from then on it went fast with implementing RPA in the rest of the reporting processes due to the agility of RPA.

A huge part of implementing RPA in your finance function is about having the right people and creating a culture with the right mindset for RPA. That is not created overnight but takes time and is a part of a process that in the long run will benefit not only your finance function but your entire business in terms of reducing errors and time spent on manual, repetitive, tedious tasks. 

Where the financial team at NTG has met challenges is when they tried to push RPA solutions down over tasks which are not suited for RPA.

How to avoid this? You might think – fear not.

It is a mistake that is easy to avoid. NTG has an employee dedicated to RPA optimizing. Giving one employee the task of only managing RPA-projects, creating a pipeline of projects, and facilitating these has proven beneficial to NTG, and they have seen some great results due to this factor.

To help you here are some points to what kind of tasks are especially suited for RPA:

  • Tasks that are based on a set of rules and contain digitally stored data
  • Data-heavy processes with a high manual error rate involving many systems/people/steps are tailored for robots to do.

As an example, RPA is very compliant with assignments such as:

  • Checking and posting supplier invoices, bank deposit file upload to your ERP system, and credit note handling.
  • Upload of trial balances from multiple companies within your corporate group to a consolidation or reporting tool.

HOW TO USE RPA TO WORK SMARTER IN THE FINANCE FUNCTION

The implementation of RPA in the finance department at NTG means that the financial team has saved time on critical calculations and accounts. Before it took the financial team 3 weeks to make these special figures. Now, due to RPA, it takes 1,5 working days. RPA has created value at NTG’s finance department especially by saving time on manual administrative tasks which can be used for tasks that add value to the business.

Where RPA really helps NTG and has enforced the idea of working smarter is the connection between software and systems. For instance, if the finance team needs a trial balance that has to be reconciled in a certain way, then instead of sitting and typing everything in manually, NTG gets the robot to do the work. To give an idea of what kind of specific tasks you can let a robot do instead of an employee here is an example: NTG has a robot preparing and updating controller-reports in their reporting system Konsolidator Konnect every month. This saved valuable time during a busy period.

“It is just like going from using a manual screwdriver to using an electric screwdriver, it makes the tasks easier, faster, and more painless to handle. It simplifies the task for our finance business partners so they can create value by providing insights based on the report instead of pulling it from the system manually.” – Morten Wied.

RPA has removed the peak load from the monthly closure at the finance department at NTG. RPA takes the top of the pressure, which means NTG can keep their team at a number that also makes sense when the department is less busy.

There is no doubt that NTG has stepped up its game in the finance department and developed a more efficient, streamlined, standardized workflow thanks to RPA. The agility that RPA brings to the table has enabled NTG to work smarter and improve several processes which make the team able to focus on value-adding tasks such as delivering crucial financial insights to management.

Do you want to learn more about RPA, how it can help you work smarter so you can prepare for the future role of finance professionals?

Then watch our webinar “Robotic Process Automation In the Finance Function”.