Blog / AP Automation, Purchase-to-pay
Robotic Process Automation and the Future of Finance & AP
A CFO survey by the Hackett Group found that 58% of finance departments are piloting both robotic process automation, and 44% are piloting cloud-based SaaS solutions*.
These statistics make sense in view of current and future changes in the regulatory marketplace. It’s predicted that 2025 is the year tax authorities worldwide will only accept invoices electronically. On top of that, companies are investing in digital transformation initiatives to reduce cycle times and provide more transparency.
So what will concern finance roles in the future? Combined with feedback from the field on how Palette has transformed the way organizations work, here are different scenarios for each role.
For Financial Planning and Analysis:
Limited Transaction Details
As an executive in finance, you spend time identifying the root cause of issues that have a negative financial impact on the organization, in order to avoid repeating them. This is difficult because of the limited details of the transactions in question.
Data Is Not Data Driven
A large portion of the financial information you collect relies heavily on second-hand reports and people’s opinion.
Combining and Compiling Data From Different Sources
Segments of the business are in different software systems, and you need to merge all of the data into one ‘big picture’. If you have to make changes to this overview, you dissect the information from different sources back down to segments, and then recompile the data after any changes are made. It’s a labor intensive task that is prone to miscalculation and error.
In the future:
Real Time Reporting
You have real time reporting at your fingertips. You can drill down into any transaction to get the facts – rather than relying on “editorials” from various departments.
You have an overall view of invoice status and the organization’s payables in real time.
Proactive Instead of Reactive
You are anticipating alternative scenarios, and executing on contingency plans. You have stopped looking at “what happened” and are working on “what’s happening” in real time, answering “what should we do” questions.
For the Financial Controller:
You spend much of your time creating or modifying budgets based on meetings with department managers or plant managers. You create monthly estimates to give your CFO but there is still the danger of going over budgeted amounts.
Learning After The Fact
You learn about situations after they have been resolved, and only learn the financial impact after the fact. When disruptions occur, it is likely that you are included in meetings where decisions are being. It’s also possible you are not included – a very common occurrence.
Direct material purchases may be initiated from purchasing, but indirect material purchases are handled individually or by location. You are not forewarned of indirect purchases – even when you should be.
In the future:
You have the opportunity to be part of the conversation around each and every purchase. Your signature isn’t needed for the financial authorization of the purchase requisition, but you are responsible for the spend. You can ensure the rules you set for your involvement in the transaction are being addressed properly.
You can set specific scenarios where you’re added to the approval process – bringing you into the financial transactions and decisions when you need to be.
Real Time Data
There are no surprises because you can see all of the transactions concerning your area of responsibility. You can stop looking at “what happened” and start working on “what is happening” in real time.
For the Accounts Payable Staff
Time Spent on PO Matching
PO matching usually takes about 15 minutes of document shuffling and amount-checking for each and every invoice.
Time Spent on Exception Handling & Communications
You spend a lot of time in email coordinating the messages necessary to reconcile exceptions because of overlooked invoices, late payments, and misplaced information.
Time Spent on Compliance Issues
Since there is no procedure in place to stop users from purchasing from vendors that are not on the approved vendor’s list, employees can take advantage – such as using a blacklisted company for personal gain.
In the future:
Efficient Use of Time
Bottlenecks are visible, and you focus on exceptions that are flagged. The routine work of invoice processing, approvals and PO matching has been automated.
Compliance Built In
Compliance rules are built into the system so you don’t have to keep a binder full of compliance rules. Approved vendors are the only vendors available to employees to purchase goods and services.
Opportunity For High Value
You have the opportunity to help improve business processes – and doing higher value work.
RPA and the benefits of purchasing automation and robotic process automation – Available now
Palette is a cost effective, secure and scalable solution which matches your company’s business flows, invoices, contracts, purchase orders and employee expenses. It benefits all the roles AP touches, from CFO to Sales.
Find out more on how Palette’s purchase automation provides transparency, real-time data, and control over indirect spending for your organization.
*Source – 2018 CFO Agenda: Finance’s Four Imperatives to Accelerate Business Value – Hackett Group