Recently, I’ve been very interested in how Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be applied in various finance processes. RPA is a quite hot topic amongst leaders in finance functions. Obviously, this has something to do with its potential to effectively automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks and thereby enable the realization of significant cost savings or the release of resources for more value adding tasks.
How to get started?
However, to some it might also sound overwhelming to start an RPA project, but the truth is, that typically, the resources needed to get started isn’t necessarily that substantial. I believe that soon, RPA in finance processes will convert from being “nice to have” into being “need to have” for all types of organizations. It’s also important to be aware, that even though you might believe (probably by your first hunch) that a certain process isn’t suited for RPA, then try twisting your brain a little and think about in what parts of that process RPA can be applied. Trust me, an opportunity can be found almost anywhere, and it’s actually a good idea to start with a step by step model. Fact is, that some of the most successful RPA implementations has started with parts of processes. But also bear in mind, that the rapid development of technology will enable increased sophistication within RPA – what might seem far away today, will be here tomorrow.
RPA within the field of Expense Management
At Acubiz we are operating in the fintech space. We are constantly looking to develop our Expense Management solution. This also incorporates RPA features, with the aim to optimize and simplify the processes of transaction registration and authorization across to bookkeeping and controlling related to these transactions. All for the benefit of both function leaders and finance leaders.
We especially see opportunities within the process of bookkeeping and controlling. By incorporating features that can automatically distinguish users’ ordinary behavior from behavior that deviates from “ordinary” without a human control task involved, we can help release time savings. And time savings always come in handy in today’s competitive world. Sometimes, I wonder why certain employees, for example Sales reps, on one hand are given the authority to sign financially large contracts that commit the organizations for several years (and sometimes with substantial risks involved). But on the other hand, these employees are obliged to have approval of (and get manually controlled for) expense amounts less than 50€. Of course, this relates to specific expense policies within a given business, which should be respected. But in my opinion, the manual tasks related to the controlling of these types of transactions really doesn’t make make sense and we must find ways to optimize and simplify these processes by implementing RPA.
As mentioned before, Acubiz has already taken the first steps within this field through our Company Policy Manager. It is in fact driven by a robot (we’ve named him Robert and he is our “Acubot”) that can handle most of the controlling tasks related to expense management. And these are notoriously time consuming. Aided by this feature, several of our customers are now utilizing RPA to handle two thirds of their expense controlling tasks. Now, that’s cool! If you are managing a finance department, you probably have a pretty good idea about your current time spend for this type of task. I’m also sure that you know your internal hourly rate by the dime and then it’s easy math to calculate your savings potential if you invest in a robot to do most of the controlling.
However, this is only the beginning and we are committed to continue focus and investments in further developments to the RPA functionalities within our solution – for the benefit of all Acubiz EMS users.