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Reimagining Processes in Finance using RPA

Isha Memon

Industry wide disruption is happening everywhere thanks to the rapidly evolving technology, and the financial industry is not an exception. Industry leaders are all poised to take-off and reshape finance functions using cutting-edge technology. Leveraging technology promises unprecedented growth in a new era leading to increased productivity and enhanced performance.

Finance and Banking operations have primarily relied on offshoring, outsourcing and centralizing for improved performance. However, these have also brought their unique challenges along making the total cost of ownership, TCO, go higher while the ROI reduces over time as maintenance costs keep piling up.

The Financial Sector faces compelling challenges that include shrinking costs, dropping financial margins, increasing complexity, reduced speed of process, delayed deliveries and more. The need to stay relevant in a dynamic environment is what drives such enterprises and institutions to adopting minimally invasive technologies such as RPA.

The implementation of Robotic Process Automation, RPA, enables a digital workforce to support your existing workforce by automating repetitive, rules-based, mundane and technical tasks. RPA is implemented as an added layer on top of the existing IT infrastructure and framework, which is why it is minimally disruptive, and one of the easiest options to start Digital Transformation within the Enterprise.

RPA when wisely implemented can easily become the effective differentiator and a competitive advantage from mundane and monotonous time-consuming operations to an efficient high performing Enterprise.

The Basics of RPA

Robotic Process Automation abbreviated as RPA represents a virtual workplace managed by operation managers. It mimics human actions by automating mundane rule-based tasks.

The monotony of business processes demands that software or processed bots make recurring and repetitive tasks simpler. RPA adopts and incorporates information from existing applications while manipulating data and triggers responses to other systems without affecting the current IT landscape.

Achieve Sustainable Success with RPA Driven Digital Transformation
Getting it right

It often happens that certain business functions are outsourced or delegated offshore to perform multiple concurrent activities with speed, precision and in sync with other important tasks carried out in-house. This makes it crucial to get the clarity of processes right down to the last detail, in addition, it’s also crucial to understand how automation can alter the functionality of such processes and their effects.

Audit your processes and how they can be made more effective. Start with a pilot on a smaller set of tasks within a business function that can be automated. However, before you get there, you need to understand what can be automated.

What can be automated?

There was a reason why we had punishments back in school of writing a sentence 100 times. Nobody likes doing tedious, mundane and automated tasks; it feels more like a punishment leading to loss of productivity in an Enterprise. Thus, to seize time and invest it into fruitful activities it is essential to understand what needs to be automated. In finance, there is an extra need of processes to be automated but which ones is the question we need to be asking.

Not every business process is suited for RPA which is why it’s important determine which processes need automation and which ones need human intervention.

Automatable Activities

Enterprises need to begin from a thorough evaluation of their strategic and operational drivers. For instance, if increasing profit margin is the strategic driver, then operations across the supply chain can be economized using RPA to control costs while reducing the time-to-market. The same can be for business operations in Banking and Finance. In general, enterprises need to consider automating time consuming, and resource intensive processes prone to human errors.

Any process can be automated if it:

  • Is rule-based
  • Repeats at regular intervals 
  • Works on pre-defined Inputs and outputs

Here is a quick list of Financial Operations that can be Automated:

  1. Bank reconciliation process
  2. Invoicing and ordering  
  3. Customer Onboarding through KYC
  4. Fixed Asset Management 
  5. Financial and External Reporting 
  6. Inventory Management
  7. Receivables management
  8. Payables management
  9. Financial statement closing
  10. Tax planning and accounting

Financial operations need clear meticulous budgeting. Managing daily repetitive tasks such as billing, pay roll management, manual transaction log entries and alike can lead to loss of overall productivity directly impacting the business bottom line.

RPA streamlines business processes through automation of such tedious daily tasks while integrating mission critical data with the business applications easing the workflow execution.

Preparing the Enterprise for a Culture Shift

The evolution journey of finance in recent years has aimed to become a “strategic business partner” rather than just a “data producer”. With the right set of people implementing the right RPA technology, there is a drastic reduction in the error rates (in double digits) and a significant increase in the data entry cost around 70%. It’s important to structure the technology around people and processes to have a scalable solution in place.

Here's a hypothetical real-life based scenario of how people, process and technology can sync well to produce superior results for the Enterprise.

Let’s quickly run through a scenario where Grace works for a finance company and uploads invoices every day on SharePoint.

Pre- RPA scenario
  • Using SAP, invoices of each customer are separately stored in a common network folder. 
  • Grace opens the explorer and navigates the current date folder on web.
  • She omits the excel files and accumulate all the xml files in a folder and zips it.
  • Windows zips the folder too and all this while she waits.
  • Logs into the website where these files are to be uploaded
  • Creates a new folder on the web and manually delegates these invoices for payment
Post-RPA Results
  • Using SAP, invoices of each customer are separately stored in a common network folder.
  • Grace takes an access of Cygnet’s RPA Solution
  • It asks Grace to choose the correct folder, fetches all .xml files on its own and zips them
  • After process completion, it navigates Grace to the website where the invoices to be paid are shared, auto-feed the user id and password.
  • After uploading successfully, it deletes the .zip file from the system to prevent ambiguity

This end-to-end process takes around 20 mins every day and post RPA implementation, this entire operation performed by Grace ends in approximately 5 minutes.

Can you see how effective the implementation of RPA can transform productivity if Enterprises understood it’s enormous potential?

Takeaways of effective RPA implementations

The significant potency of RPA makes it a key differentiator between the successful financial businesses and struggling ones. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that most businesses are either assessing the possibility of getting aided by RPA or already successfully under the initial stage of implementation.

  1. Short is Sweet and Sustainable

    Enterprise-wide RPA implementation is a long-term exercise which demands an overhaul of existing business processes to an extent. Start with short-term processes in either of the Finance functions or business processes. Monitor and analyze the pilot so you can arrive at an accurate model of implementation for other functions.

  2. RPA leads to Cost and Time Optimization

    Automation in Finance has led to the increased scope of strategic development and implementation assistance. RPA keeps multiple functions synced and keeps the clockwork mechanism running smoothly. Even if a single function keeps delivering delayed data, the overall positioning of activities will take a hit ultimately leading to increased investment of time, resources and capital.

  3. Ease of Operations and Management

    RPA meets and exceeds expectations across multiple dimensions including improved compliance (92%), improved quality / accuracy (90%), improved productivity (86%), cost reduction (59%). - Deloitte

    RPA implementation ensures smooth management of productivity with data control. In addition, it also streamlines the overall process while meeting deadlines and concurrently provides advisory support to overall financial business including controlling, taxation, treasury and corporate finance.

According to this recent report, The Robotic Process Automation Market is expected to register a CAGR of 26.34%, during the forecast period of 2019-2024. Automation in Finance promises big bucks literally.

Industry experts at Cygnet can assist you in growing your business with the help of intelligent bots and automated processes. For more information on RPA and its implementation feel free to reach out to us at inquiry@cygnetinfotech.com or call us on +1-609-245-0971.

Isha Memon

Isha Memon is a marketing communications professional with a decade long experience in branding and communications. Her communications degree and diverse experience across multiple industries lends her the unique ability to think from different points of view. As the Content Manager, she leads the content team at Cygnet Infotech closely working alongside the digital marketing team. An avid reader, marvel fan and meme lover, Isha loves to write fiction and poetry when she’s not working.

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