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RPA in Finance

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is user-friendly software that automates processes by accessing user interfaces without touching underlying programmes. It provides a way of gaining some of the benefits of systems integration without the same level of investment.

Cover of ICAEW's guide to robotic process automation in financeWe have held three meetings with finance professionals of large organisations who see the potential for significant benefits from RPA and are running pilots to assess the feasibility of reducing costs and improving accuracy, quality, timeliness and drill-down.

From those meetings we have created the Robotic process automation in finance guide for ICAEW members to get a better understanding on how RPA can be used in finance. 

Key Points

  • If well implemented, RPA can provide a good return on investment, but vendors and outsource providers tend to over promise.
  • As well as time savings, the benefits of RPA can include: improved accuracy, quicker processes, and management of peak workloads.
  • RPA is only one automation option and should be compared to Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) upgrades, switching on ERP modules and specialised accounting software
    (eg, for reconciliations or consolidation).
  • RPA can be used strategically as part of a holistic process improvement programme or tactically to automate as-is processes.
  • Despite RPA being user-friendly software requiring minimal training, successful programmes still require an effective relationship with the IT department and consensus on responsibilities.
  • RPA changes the way people work and causes uncertainty around jobs. Training and internal communication must be a high priority in any RPA programme.
  • Finance departments should negotiate hard to ensure outsource providers are taking advantage of RPA to reduce client costs and improve service.

If you are currently working with RPA or considering an RPA project and would like to join the conversation please email Rick.Payne@icaew.com.

Further reading

Read ICAEW’s Internal Audit Panel's guidance for internal auditors on providing assurance over Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Read a case study on RPA in Johnson & Johnson's finance department. RPA has resulted in standardisation, improvements in work flow and greater accuracy.