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What Is Robotic Process Automation?

Still don’t know what robotic process automation (RPA) is? Don’t worry – you’re not alone.

In our recent poll, we discovered that 66% of accounting and finance professionals either haven’t heard of it or are uncertain of what the term means.[i] So, we’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to some really cool technology.

In simple terms, RPA is software that delivers automation for your daily activities. In those day-to-day activities, there are a lot of repetitive (and occasionally some redundant) tasks. When these are structured and follow logic that can be defined — in other words, they’re rules-based — they can be automated.

What Are RPA’s Benefits?

The biggest benefit of robotic process automation is that it can complete repetitive activities more quickly and accurately than humans can. Some use cases include transaction processing, data manipulation, and communication.

RPA’s efficiency creates a shift in the workforce by allowing workers to move away from tasks that don’t require skill to engaging, knowledge-based work. While some people have feared it will replace jobs, what’s actually happening across industries is that it’s transforming roles rather than replacing people.

Are There Different Kinds of RPA?

There are several different types of robotic process automation out there, and they range from incredibly specialized and custom-built to screen-scraping tools.

When researching the best solution for your organization, focus on the business process, not just the technology. Robotic process automation can deliver fast return on investment, but it’s essential to start with the low-hanging fruit.

To successfully implement RPA, it’s important to focus on what’s being automated and to proactively define what success will look like. This will equip you to decide which type of software is best for your accounting and finance teams.

Will RPA Impact Finance & Accounting?

There is no question that robotic process automation is going to have an impact on Finance and Accounting. In fact, according to a 2017 study by KPMG, 43% of executives surveyed plan on investing in the technology over the next two years.

Adopting RPA is not an “if” but a “when” and, according to Gartner, it’s essential for companies to start adopting it as soon as possible.

Being slow to modernize accounting operations not only places your company at a competitive disadvantage, but out-of-date accounting and finance practices also dramatically increase risk.


[i] https://www.blackline.com/resources/ondemand/research-robotic-process-automation-rpa-suits-finance-and-accounting/thank-you [Minute 4:12]

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