RPA allows complicated digital processes to be automated using a seamless user interface and following a set of predefined protocols. Automating financial processes, such as transferring data from email into transactional systems of record is simplified. RPA is an upgrade over other forms of automation with its ability to imitate a human user. In addition, the purview of RPA extends to a range of functions within a CPA firm across a much larger spectrum of business activities.
Accounting firms are increasingly embarking on RPA implementations to support their current processes, all to often without evaluating or standardizing the protocols being automated. RPA has significant time and money-saving potential, but there are equally significant challenges to maximize RPA’s potential. This often leads to letting go of opportunities to significantly streamline and boost quality, cost savings, and turnover times. When considering an RPA implementation it’s imperative for CPA firms to first understand why standardization issues occur in order to avoid them.
Adopting RPA technology helps automate back-office processes to produce high quality, accurate results. CPA Innovations helps CPA firms automate repeatable or mundane tasks with the help of RPA technology.
Why do standardization issues occur?
A lack of clear Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) stemming from either poor documentation or outdated guidelines is the primary cause. Without a structured framework, accounting firms often end up with data in a non-standardized format or implement different protocols across diverse processes. Addressing such issues through process mapping, analysis and standardization leads to significant improvements in the processes being automated.
For instance, a CPA firm operating out of two different locations could have two different processes to address the same business problem. Adopting a single standardized process leads to higher efficiency and reduced costs.
How to work with RPA?
Evaluate the current processes
Before starting automation, it is vital to estimate how efficient and scalable the current processes are. In order to automate, there should be a clear understanding of what needs to be automated. Most CPA firms have complex workflows for different situations. Training software robots to comprehend these workflows is usually the most time-consuming step.
Deploying robots to automate workflows is rather difficult if there are no standardized protocols to follow. Deploying RPA to take over or replicate a complicated process with many variables requires significant investment. The cost of maintaining and servicing non-standardized robots could outweigh the savings.
Understanding the maturity of the processes aids in deciding which processes are standardized enough to benefit from RPA. This would further help in figuring out the processes that require standardization by redesigning existing protocols to reduce manual labor, eliminate rework and optimize approvals.
Working with high-performing teams to enhance the workflow and embed this into RPA, provides significant advancements while reducing process pitfalls across other segments.
Why does RPA require Process Analysis?
Implementing RPA is a significant step. However, failure post RPA deployment can erode business confidence, often causing organizations to return to manual methods and inefficient processing. Deploying RPA before process analysis and standardization will require constant changes in configuring the protocols to make room for changes.
A structured approach to RPA implementation
- Review internal protocols to identify and solve issues.
- Deploy RPA within a structured framework to ensure delivery continuity.
- Do not automate multiple processes simultaneously. Build successes.
- Monitor the software bots steadily and regularly.
- Document resolved issues and provide feedback, to ensure high quality.
- Route changes via a formal change process.
- Assess the upstream and downstream impact of each change request prior to deployment.
- Inspect all changes before it goes live into production.
- Establish and maintain a robust reporting structure that generates data on a regular basis on the current issues, efficiency benefits, bot penetration, and accuracy.
Successfully deploying RPA can significantly improve stakeholder confidence with long-term gains in productivity, improved quality, cost, and excellent customer experience. CPA firms can further broaden the scope by bringing in larger and more complicated customer-facing processes under the purview of RPA for sustained competitive advantage.
Looking for help in transforming your accounting firm? CPA Innovations is a one-stop solution when it comes to accounting and finance back-office services. We partner with accounting firms to help them enhance their productivity, efficiency, and profitability. With world-class processes, a highly qualified and experienced team, and robotic process automation, we are here for you every step of the way.
Please reach out to us today for your free consultation.