Making F&A Intelligent

Making F&A Intelligent

Management of money and investments by corporations is challenging even under normal circumstances when business is booming and the market is conducive to growth. So, it is only natural that companies are doubly obliged to proceed with caution when the times are tough. In these uncertain times, companies have had to battle a previously unknown challenge in the pandemic. A repeat of the early lockdown measures and social restrictions is tending to render ineffective whatever austerity goals businesses have adopted since the first outbreak of COVID19.

Investment, & not Savings, aids in Growth

What companies are failing to realize is that savings is not a solution to continue business. It is just a temporary measure to get you through as long as the money lasts. Investment is key even in these unpredictable times. Now more than ever, companies need to direct their budgetary goals to invest in technology that will ensure a system of continuous business mobility even when faced with a cash crunch.

Managing money and allotting budgets for the right technology solutions for your business is difficult if your finance & accounting department is itself fragmented and in need of a major revamp.

We have seen companies try to hustle up new customers to generate revenues during the initial months into the pandemic, without a definite plan on how to proceed in the absence of a skilled workforce. This is the difference between the current economic uncertainty and all previous ones — even under dire economic, social, or political uncertainty, corporations have always managed to mobilize operations and generate revenues, thanks to a diverse, skilled, and engaged workforce.

This pandemic, however, has uprooted the very fabric of an enterprise, which is manpower. Forced lockdowns mean fewer workers in the office — for a company that relies a lot on its staff to get mission critical work done, this could mean little to no productivity.

We know that this uncertainty is going to linger on for at least a couple more years. The question is what should one be doing to ensure business continuity? We see a growing interest in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) across sectors.

But most businesses deal heavily with document-based processes. The back-office is a critical component within any company that needs to be managed well if companies are to keep a tight grip on their incoming and outgoing funds.

The back-office deals with a lot of unstructured data from source documents like vendor invoices, customer sales orders, medical claims, etc. These documents incur a lot of labor and operating costs, if managed manually.

Companies often consider RPA when thinking of automating their mission critical operations in accounts payable, sales order processing, claims management, and for processing mailroom remittances.
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But RPA is not a smart business processing tool. At the most, it can be considered a brawny task implementation tool that can take on tons of workload in a limited time-frame, with the advantage that it never stops, unlike a human.

RPA is suited for implementing definite, repetitive tasks that do not change, like with periodic data entry of invoice details from the same vendor. For tasks that are diverse and changing with every new business, RPA will not know how to handle them because it is pre-trained to implement only ‘known’ tasks.

The challenges facing the finance and accounting department are many, but especially in these uncertain times, the need to contain costs while pushing forward business objectives is crucial.

What businesses need is a smart automation tool that is pre-trained to follow a set of coded instructions for any kind of document-based process flow but also able to employ intelligence to learn from user actions and implement new tasks. Intelligence-specific workflows with digital transformation capabilities are needed to implement routine, document-dependent tasks on a large scale. Intelligent Process Automation is the answer. This technology solves most of the common errors that crop up as a result of human intervention for document processing work.

Just what are the common difficulties that businesses face in their finance departments when faced with labor shortage?

  1. Sorting unstructured or semi-structured documents such as emails, invoices, GRNs (Goods Receipt Notes), etc. and keying-in relevant data from them is labor-intensive, and also highly error-prone when done manually. Shortage of staff can impede the successful implementation of this vital step, especially when companies are faced with processing a large chunk of such documents.
  2. Consolidating data post capture into standard reporting formats including excel files, pdfs, and for use in ERPs and line of business systems is time-consuming, especially when the work entails validating data against vendor master files for authenticity, 2-way & 3-way matching, and sending it to related verification managers for dispute resolution. Multiply these steps by thousands of invoices per month, and you have a truckload of paperwork to take care of.

Absence of full staff during lockdowns can have a detrimental effect on the most critical part of finance management, which is accounts payable. Lack of adequate process control for implementing mission critical tasks can reduce a company’s output significantly, and unprepare the management for the kind of cash flows and revenues they must plan for, if they are to get through these uncertain times.

Tackle all of these impediments in one shot by making F&A intelligent. Intelligent Process Automation introduces intelligence-specific workflows that will ensure automatic process implementation of document-based tasks. IPA solutions come with cognitive technologies, especially machine learning, that reduce dependency on manual effort considerably.

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