Why Finance & Accounting Professionals Are in Love with Intelligent Process Automation
Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Finance and accounting processes can be very manual, repetitive, time-consuming, and massively dependent on quality.
These processes can stress out staff in your finance or accounting departments and can take them off the ball from working on more strategic or higher value work.
At Stealth Scaling, we believe we can automate 75% of all finance and accounting administrative tasks by leveraging our software robots that can mimic the “typing” and processes that humans do but conduct them 10x faster.
For the other 25% of work that can’t be automated, we provide what we call human-in-the-loop (or a “human backstop”) to ensure 100% of the finance or accounting departments manual work is automated end to end.
Intelligent automation is a great asset for finance and accounting departments because it can increase productivity, efficiency, and allow you to achieve more in less time.
What exactly is intelligent automation?
Intelligent automation is a combination of Robotic Process Automation, artificial intelligence technologies, and humans, which together empower rapid end-to-end business process automation, accelerates digital transformation, and drives real business outcomes.
And no, we don’t mean robots like the ones from movies.
We are talking about Software robots that do repetitive and lower-value work instead of people.
Think of logging into applications/systems, moving files/folders, extracting, copying, and inserting data, filling in forms, and completing routine analyses and reports as a few examples of what type of work these software robots would be doing.
When you combine technologies such as RPA and AI with talented humans-in-the-loop, it can virtually eliminate all errors and allow you 10x output.
According to an Economist Survey, “Advance of Automation,” 59% of finance and accounting leaders believe that RPA will help increase their competitive edge over the next two years.
While the digitization of F&A departments has been underway for some time, COVID-19 has further motivated finance organizations to accelerate digital transformation efforts.
As the key driver of the digital transformation, intelligent process automation can transform many common F&A processes into functions and drive business outcomes.
Intelligent automations' capabilities also include artificial intelligence (AI), including machine learning (ML), optical character recognition (OCR), or natural language processing (NLP) to enable better management of unstructured data.
Recently, a global financial services company incorporated Intelligent process automation as part of its digital transformation to automate financial control tasks and processes.
The results were impressive: same-day profit and loss delivery, accelerated period-end closing by five days, reduced late posting by 99%.
The improved ledger and reporting accuracy and timeframes allowed for a 40% reduction in operating costs.
The Best Use Cases for RPA in Finance and Accounting
Our AI is designed to analyze, compare, and reconcile large data sets, or at the very least identify exceptions with speed and accuracy.
Processes such as journal entries, general ledger reconciliations, period-close, statutory and management reporting, and variance analysis all fall into the category of ideal automation candidates.
Any rule-based decision-making can be replicated in a software bot's instructions to be executed with 100% accuracy every time the function is performed.
There are a number of areas where robots can be utilized in O2C, as the nature of the work itself is robotic.
For human employees, this type of work is draining and tedious, which leads to inaccurate processing and costly rework.
As mentioned in the section above, robots are great at evaluating, comparing, and reconciling large data sets, making them a logical component in master data management.
However, robots can also be trained to process cash applications, run invoices and reports, and even manage credit risks or disputes.
Bots can also be utilized for reconciliations, payment processing, and running reports. Robots can also be trained to manage purchase orders and invoices.
Using the same systems as human employees, robots can input and reconcile data from system to system, manage vendor compliance, or even identify errors for manual review by a human. Invoices present a consistent challenge for back-office staff, especially when they may arrive in vastly different formats. A robot can easily handle this process just as it can handle PO processing.
When data varies too much from what's expected or the robot grades its own confidence on the lower end of the scale, it can flag an invoice for manual user review, which pings one of Stealth Scaling's automation operators to handle the exception.
Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)
Thinking in terms of automation, FP&A processes are broken into three categories: transactional, analytical, and specialty.
Transactional processes like periodic budgets and financial forecasts, performing consolidations, processing eliminations, and running regulatory reports are all well within a robot’s capabilities.
Analytical functions like variance analysis against forecasts and budgets, determining and measuring cost drivers, tracking performance, and other functions which require more cognitive inputs can be automated, but the process is less straight-forward. AI capabilities are used in this area to help robots mimic certain components of human decision-making, but this requires significant guidance from human employees to properly train the robots over time.
Specialty or strategic functions like asset resource deployment and utilization, optimizing customer and product mix, or continuous cost improvement management are not ideal for automation at this point.
Data consolidation and management
Most companies use multiple applications to manage the organization. Each application serves as a point of entry for new or revised data, which can create headaches for the business when applications lack interoperability. To compound that, human errors lead to rework of processes and data management issues as well. Robots can easily evaluate and consolidate data from multiple systems to enable better data management.
Comparing the balances on critical business accounts can take valuable time out of a clerk's day, requiring them to log back and forth between different systems. Accuracy is essential for supporting future audits.
Intelligent Automation software bots can handle these tasks and only needs a human-in-the-loop when the data does not match up.
Traditionally, automation has affected multiple workflows within the office. However, many tasks concerning finances have remained manual, either because of a lack of appropriate solutions or out of an organizational uneasiness about placing essential tasks in the hands of robots.
Remember: humans still have control over robotic accounting, and the right rule configurations ensure there is someone to double-check any potential exceptions.
With new tools and an increasing commercial awareness of the value of automation, new RPA use cases in finance and accounting have developed over recent years. These uses can translate into cost savings, improved employee morale, and better productivity.
Let's explore some of the most common uses for RPA in these areas while considering which advantages make RPA a worthwhile investment.
How Stealth Scaling is Solving Problems for Mid-Market Finance & Accounting Departments
For the first time ever, Stealth Scaling is focused on making automation affordable for mid-market companies who have yet to embrace automation; in the past, it has simply been too expensive or unavailable to them.
Stealth Scaling is an intelligent automation-as-a-service company that helps automate manual, repetitive processes end-to-end for finance and accounting departments by leveraging AI, RPA, and humans in the loop.
Stealth is investing in the mid-market space by funding the automation implementation, maintenance, human in the loop costs, and license costs and becomes your center of excellence for automation.
Stealth only charges per successful transaction, whether a bot or human completes it.
This allows customers to start reaping the benefits of automation and have a tangible ROI on day 1 of the bots and humans in the loop going live.
Going from a payback period with software to a ROI on day 1 of launch is revolutionizing automation within the mid-market space.
Stealth Scaling has operations in Miami, Fl and Metro Manila, Philippines to completely automate work end to end.
Stealth will build out software robots that can mimic what humans do in manual repetitive processes such as invoice processing, order to cash, data reconciliation, data entry, know your customer, claims processing, and more.
The bots run 24/7, can scale up or down based on seasonality, and are backed by trained humans in the loop who have clinical experience.
The humans only handle exceptions or validations that the bot needs assistance with.
The Philippines has a hub of talented practitioners in a variety of verticals that can jump in and support these processes when needed.
This is truly a disruptive model because clients don’t pay any implementation, maintenance, or license fees to software companies to start automating processes.
If you would like to get a free automation evaluation please fill out our contact form and our automation specialists will get in touch with you right away!