The buzz surrounding robotics and robotic process automation (RPA) is hard to ignore in finance and accounting. EY has highlighted that adopting RPA across various business areas is rising. This cutting-edge technology aims to delegate repetitive tasks to computers, reducing resource allocation and time requirements to free up human resources to focus on higher value, more strategic tasks, a perfect fit for the transaction-heavy world of accounting and finance.
Consider a medical firm from a decade ago, where six administrative staff manually reviewed medical reimbursement claims for potential fraud. By implementing an automated monitoring system that cross-checked claims against predefined rules, they were able to achieve remarkable outcomes such as:
- Management reallocated 80% of the staff to more productive, higher-value tasks.
- We identified higher rates of invalid claims, saving money.
This process, known as continuous control monitoring, shares striking similarities with today’s RPA methodologies.
Consider the significance of RPA in control and auditing, beyond its common association with accounting tasks like processing invoices and payables. The complexity of implementing continuous monitoring and auditing, along with the shortage of skilled personnel, especially in a country like South Africa, poses challenges despite their proven effectiveness. Professional resources leaving the country for greener pastures exacerbate the situation.”.
So, what does this mean for audit, finance or accounting professionals? Gartner asserts that RPA is not the future but the present, demanding better preparedness from these critical organisation functions. EY adds that RPA will become an indispensable tool to meet increased demands, enhance cost efficiencies, and drive value creation.
The realm of RPA will undoubtedly converge with automated auditing and transactional control monitoring. As automated transaction processing expands, testing, compliance analysis, and risk assessment will naturally follow suit. The broad application of automated transaction testing and monitoring analytics will extend to the first and second lines of defence, placing the responsibility on business and finance managers to ensure effective risk management.
Given this transformative landscape, auditors must assume the role of advisors to their finance and control colleagues, ensuring the intelligent and well-controlled implementation of RPA. Simultaneously, finance and control leaders must familiarise themselves with RPA to effectively navigate the risks associated with automation.
Stay ahead of the curve in traditional audit, finance and control processes by embracing the rapid changes RPA offers. Prepare to revolutionise your role and seize the countless opportunities that lie ahead.
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