Three Roads to RPA for AP/Sales Order Automation

According to a recent report from Blue Prism, nearly 80 million jobs in the United States and 15 million jobs in the United Kingdom are good candidates for robotic process automation (RPA).

March 06, 2018

According to a recent report from Blue Prism, nearly 80 million jobs in the United States and 15 million jobs in the United Kingdom are good candidates for robotic process automation (RPA). That’s good news for employers and equally good news for employees whose ability to add lasting, strategic value to their organization is hampered by tedious, repetitive tasks that can be easily automated.

Two classic examples from finance: accounts payable vendor invoice processing and accounts receivable/sales order processing.

With fleets of software robots handling the mundane tasks of handling/filing paperwork, validating and entering data and routing data and documents for approval, skilled human workers can focus on the kind of high-value, creative work that only humans can do.

Digital transformation platforms, like Artsyl’s docAlpha, allow companies to rapidly create these software RPA “robots” in order to power process improvement. Key to ensuring that these robots can be configured and programmed in a way that is efficient and cost-effective is to make their programming codeless. In other words, take software developers and IT/tech support staff out of the equation and empower your skilled, human process experts to call the shots.

Take accounts payable and vendor invoice processing. The most common tasks associated with a routine function like processing vendor/supplier payments include handling/filing/matching paper and digital orders, invoices and receipts, entering transaction data into ERP systems and routing data/documents to stakeholders for approval. The majority of the routine tasks in this process are perfect targets for automation, including document filing, matching and data entry - including both digital and scanned paper files.

With intelligent, adaptable capture systems in place to extract structured data from non-structured documents, organizations can apply business rules to their data and documents to monitor, manage and automate tons of business processes. The “robots” involved are simply the intelligent software tools that have been designed to adapt to a wider variety of business conditions without requiring a lot of custom coding or manual intervention.

The ways to embrace Robotic Process Automation

Most companies today have the basic systems in place they need to intelligently automate their business process and eliminate inefficient manual tasks. What’s missing is the connective tissue and the intelligence to get the most out of those systems.

Enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) have been adopted by most businesses to handle their structured data; Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECMs) are typically leveraged to manage unstructured data sources like business documents. Companies rely on all sorts of other industry- or department-specific systems to support their roles today. The trick is how to make the most of those systems.

There are three common approaches that companies have taken to achieve robotic process automation for routine tasks:

  • User-focused approaches apply automation to repeatable, individual, tactical tasks

  • IT-focused approaches apply automation to simplify routine programming/integration tasks to increase IT responsiveness

  • Enterprise-focused approaches empower IT staff and create adaptable, configurable (as opposed to programmable) solutions to automate routine, individual tasks

In reality, the first two approaches have evolved into the third approach. As a result, more power is put into the hands of non-technical staff to ‘teach’ systems to perform tasks. “Reading” a document and extracting information is a perfect example when it comes to accounts payable and vendor invoices.

At the same time, the tasks that IT needs to be involved in, from a deployment, integration and support standpoint, can be streamlined and automated to reduce the need for coding or customization. This ‘codeless’ approach results in self-learning systems that can leverage the knowledge and guidance of their human counterpart. As a result, there is no need for an IT person or programmer to translate their instructions into something the system can understand.

What’s this means for your accounts payable or accounts receivable personal, is that they can focus on software tools to “teach” digital transformation systems like docAlpha how to tell an invoice from a purchase order. They can instruct the system how to validate each document and data element against records in an ERP system. They can train the system when and how to route certain invoices for approval, and ensure that those approvers have access to G/L coding date so that everything is appropriately accounted for.

Your process experts no longer spend their time doing the heavy lifting. Instead of being slaves to manual tasks, they own the process and focus on improving efficiency, accuracy and other sources of cost reduction or revenue increase. THOSE are the tasks that humans excel at.

Leave the rest to the robots.

For more information about how to apply robotic process automation to your accounts payable, sales order process or other business processes, contact your Artsyl Technologies representative.

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