Robotic process automation and other advanced solutions for business transformations lie at the center of many critical investments today. The economy’s speed continues to accelerate and organizations face ever-greater demands to move at that same speed. For financial processes, however, that pressure hasn’t always been easy to handle. Manual work and error-prone processes still plague many businesses, but that’s changing. As we proceed through 2024, we’ll continue to see how finance and RPA can be a winning combination.
The Technologies at the Heart of Today’s Transformation
What’s driving the biggest changes in the industry today? The emergence of separate but interrelated automation technologies is the answer. We first need to understand those technologies to explore the potential impacts we’ll see this year and in the future. Here’s a quick look at what’s fueling the latest revolution in business finance.
Robotic process automation. RPA uses rules-based software robots to automate repetitive work and reduce opportunities for mistakes. Robots might run only when a human triggers them or run continuously in the background to provide process improvements.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning. These twin technologies bring human-like capabilities into the fold, enabling less rules-based solutions. AI-powered solutions can more capably digest complex data and make “decisions” or transform that data.
Cognitive automation. This term applies to the intersection of AI and other automation tools. Cognitive automation supports capturing data at any scale with efficiency while also bringing more flexibility into decision-based processes.
With the right combination of tools, finance departments today can see significant changes in how they work. What will these impacts include?
Rethinking the Old Approach to Data Entry
Manual work was the name of the game for decades in accounts payable. Nowhere in the process was that more evident than in the data entry process. An AP professional’s day might start with opening dozens of envelopes from the mail room and then meticulously typing all the information into a computer system. Moving that information around wasn’t easy. Paperwork was easy to lose or misplace.
Today’s cognitive capture technologies can dramatically reduce manual workflows related to data ingestion. AI-powered tools “read” and learn about document types, processing both structured and unstructured information. AI extracts fields and keeps humans in the loop for evaluation. RPA can then extract information directly into your accounting software, enterprise-level program, or other application.
Using Cognitive Technology for Invoice Processing
Invoice processing benefits from better automation at the capture stage, too. Cognitive tools can take extracted invoice data and streamline some of the most time-consuming tasks in an organization. For example, a worker might need to compare the cost of invoiced items against a supplier price catalog for accuracy. In another case, the worker might need to match the invoice to a purchase order. In a three-way match, that process adds in shipping data, too.
Matching and reconciling invoices can be a prolonged process. With AI and RPA, however, you can save considerable amounts of time. Robots can make these comparisons more rapidly and without potential oversights or errors. Invoices process more quickly and reach the approval stage sooner with these technologies. Ultimately, that helps slash processing costs. Automation can help finance teams be a savings generator for their businesses in 2024.
Re-balancing the Roles of Key Employees
With RPA and other automation tools, companies can find new opportunities for savings and accelerate critical processes. Within the AP department, that means a shift in role for professionals. No longer stuck with processes that demand heavy levels of manual work and error correction, team members can turn their attention to other tasks. For example, managing suppliers and fostering better relationships with a company’s vendors is much simpler when menial office tasks pile up whenever you look away. With automation, AP can provide new and greater value to organizations.
Improving Visibility and Compliance
Automation doesn’t happen behind closed doors or in a black box. Instead, RPA and intelligent automation can provide clear audit trails and verifiable actions. Automation provides high-level visibility into financial workflows and other vital factors, such as daily cash on hand. AP automation also improves regulatory compliance and compliance with internal financial controls. Reduce fraud, knock down rogue and non-PO spending, and build the AP department of tomorrow.
Discover What’s Possible Right Now With RPA
2024 looks set to be another significant year for integrating finance and RPA technology. With emerging and maturing AI-powered solutions and cognitive document intelligence, businesses stand with immense opportunity in front of them. Savings, from faster and more error-free work, are just the beginning. RPA could help your business equip itself with the tools necessary to innovate better workflows. Visit the Tungsten Marketplace today to find ready-made solutions for faster automation deployments in finance.