Finance and accounting (F&A) are functions every business on the planet shares. They’re like a universal language. We all have to balance the books, crunch the numbers, and produce reports. We all face challenges in regulatory and tax compliance. That’s why the finance department is usually one of the first targets for an automation program.
Recently, at our Bucharest Immersion Lab, UiPath executives and our partners at PwC met with leaders from some of the top companies in Romania in banking, retail, and e-commerce who are also UiPath customers.
To discuss some of the biggest pain points that F&A professionals face—and to examine the ways automation can help. In essence, we wanted to explore the ‘art of the possible’ and dive into how automation is driving transformative innovation in the finance department.
The latest innovations from UiPath are opening up new possibilities in F&A, and we wanted to give our customers a preview of what they can expect. Automation can help businesses create the single source of truth that’s critical to success in today’s innovation economy. The UiPath Business Automation Platform also helps organizations make sense of ever-larger data sets.
We also looked at how the UiPath Platform can help businesses uncover new insights and go beyond analyzing past trends to better anticipate emerging ones.
As part of the discussion, we shared how UiPath uses UiPath across Finance. After all, we’re a global enterprise. We face the same challenges and complexities in finance that our customers do, including:
In areas like invoice processing, the sheer volume of documents can grow into the millions. And not all of those documents are in the same format. It can be a painstaking process to extract the needed information, reconcile it with other sources, and consolidate it for meaningful analysis.
Like our customers, we rely on a lot of different technologies to keep our Finance department running. And not all of those systems were designed to work together. We need to extract information from multiple systems and populate data in one system from another to generate reports and create our own single version of the truth.
We want to accelerate month-end closing. We want to scale our operations and accommodate revenue growth. We also want to contain costs and simplify reporting to tax authorities and regulatory bodies. But adding headcount to tackle a growing workload isn’t always an option. Nobody has an unlimited budget. Like our customers, we want to do more without adding more.
So, we thought we’d show our customers exactly how we use our own technology to drive innovation in F&A. We currently have 343 robots working in our F&A department—that’s 29% of our entire digital workforce. And citizen developers have built 138 of those automations.
In total, the 343 automations save our F&A department more than 115,000 hours each year.
What kinds of tasks do those robots perform? We’re glad you asked. They’re helping us with:
Reconciling payroll for multiple countries and wage types
Generating reports for our controllership team
Applying cash receipts to issued invoices
Recording expense accruals
Gathering data for intercompany transactions
Forecasting daily revenue by contract
Processing invoices using UiPath Document Understanding
Generating insights on company performance and trends
That’s just a partial list. But these and other automations have helped us cut our closing time from 30 days to five. We demoed some of these capabilities during the session and showed how they could lay the groundwork for end-to-end process automations that take efficiency to the next level:
This robot uses predefined Tableau views to drill down into UiPath operational expense databases and prepares easy-to-understand reports that highlight trends and company performance. The drill down is based on a set of predefined rules that the user can easily set up. Whenever business users need a month close insights report, they can trigger an attended robot and select the company, period, and financial or operational captions to be analyzed. After the analysis is complete, the robot generates a written report for the user.
A SAF-T file can help make auditing and compliance processes more efficient and faster. But collecting the range of data needed to populate the file is a big and onerous task. Sources can range from customer and supplier data, the general ledger, invoices, assets, inventory, and more. Our SAF-T reporting robot gathers data from 20 different reports, validates that data based on SAF-T requirements, and reconciles the data gathered from different sources to ensure a complete and accurate process. The robot highlights any discrepancies for review, and generates the XML file for upload.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that finance professionals can spend a lot of time copying data from one source (like a spreadsheet) and reentering it into a different system or tool. Clipboard AI takes the drudgery out of that process for our team. Thanks to the wonder of artificial intelligence, it figures out where the data should go and pastes it into the destination. Clipboard AI can scan the source document for the needed information, extract it, and paste it into another interface or web form. It can even convert currencies and adjust formats on the fly.
The customers we met with have already used automation to tackle the “low-hanging fruit” in their finance and accounting departments. They’ve automated a lot of discrete tasks. Now they’re turning their attention to bigger, interconnected processes that cross departmental lines and involve multiple enterprise systems. The demos we provided showed them how they could do it.
The session was just as enlightening and inspiring for us as it was for our customers. Here’s a quick overview of what we learned.
There’s no such thing as a ‘generic’ business process. Everything takes place in an industry-specific context. Meeting with like-minded professionals who face similar challenges is a great way to explore automation’s potential.
It may be a cliché, but it's true: seeing is believing. Getting a first-hand look at how real-world automations solve real-world problems is the best source of inspiration for your own automation journey.
New capabilities in Document Understanding, AI, Task Mining, and Process Mining can change the way our customers do business in a fundamental way. Our customers’ excitement at seeing these tools at work is a compelling validation of our vision. More to come on this.
And what advice did our Finance and Accounting team give for others starting on their automation journey?
You don’t have to choose between a bottom-up, top-down, or a citizen developer-led approach to automation. Go with all of the above.
Don’t wait for the perfect process. Robotic process automation (RPA) is flexible enough to change as you change.
Set goals, define your strategy, and automate. A systematic approach can help you gain the buy-in of key stakeholders and maximize the impact of automation.
Start with the low-hanging fruit. Quick wins are your best promoter.
There’s no substitute for meeting face-to-face with UiPath customers and discussing the challenges they face. Sessions like the one held in our Bucharest Immersion Lab help our customers envision new approaches to automation and help us understand how customers use our solutions to innovate and thrive. It’s a classic win-win scenario.
Interested in attending a UiPath Immersion Lab where you can explore the art of the possible? Contact your UiPath representative today.
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