Business moves fast.
That’s how we introduced Part 1 of this blog series about RPA—the advanced technology powered by AI that can handle routine accounts payable tasks such as invoice processing and vendor audits. And we talked about the reasons why organizations will need to embrace RPA and other emerging technologies in order to scale gracefully and remain competitive.
Now let’s explore what an AP professional’s work life looks like before and after RPA. In our e-book, Five Factors That Will Shape the Modern Finance Office, we predict that as RPA becomes more infused with cognitive capabilities, it will streamline processes with semi-structured and unstructured data as inputs—including extracting data from documents such as contracts and invoices—boosting productivity of the finance team overall and the AP process in particular.
Before RPA: An invoice arrives from a vendor by email, or worse, as a paper document in the mail. An employee downloads the attachment or scans the paper document, searches for and matches the invoice against a purchase order in the ERP system, manually enters the data into the appropriate fields, and puts the invoice into the proper queue for processing.
Repeat the process for each invoice received.
Imagine doing that one task hundreds of times a month! That is the mundane reality of many AP clerks. Not to mention the opportunities for keying errors, duplicating invoices, and misplacing or losing documents in the process.
After RPA: Software robots can be configured to automatically process invoices upon arrival, whether they arrive electronically or on paper. A robot uses OCR (optical character recognition) to read the invoice, match it to the purchase order, and route it to the proper queue for processing.1
The bots won’t ever lose track of a document or make a calculation error. Nor will it ever become bored!
The impact? “Machine learning, AI, and RPA will go beyond invoice routing to take purchase-to-pay process automation to the next level,” explains Yooz COO Laurent Charpentier. “I believe breakthroughs in these various technologies are going to allow finance leaders take the next step, to not only understand AP invoices but also gather intelligence from contracts as well.”
“Modern CFOs are embracing the idea that the finance team should not be spending time on manual transaction-based activities, and they have been taking advantage of automation wherever possible,” said Brett Brenner, managing director, KPMG.
He goes on, “Companies are looking to up-skill and prepare their financial workforce for the future. Automation will continue to relieve them of the transactional details so that they can focus on the bigger picture of driving profitability.”2
1Seven Software Robots Your Business Needs, helpsystems.com blog, July 28, 2017. https://www.helpsystems.com/blog/best-software-robots-for-business Retrieved 2019-09-10
2Five Factors That Will Shape the Modern Finance Office, by CFO an Argyle Company, sponsored by Yooz.