Assignment state robotic process automation having important place in accounting often being embraced by professionals

Home, - Robotics and Its Role in Accounting


The ongoing digital economy has brought about numerous changes in not just accounting but also the manner in which robotics is being applied in the field. The ongoing times call for organizations and enterprises to be centers where the reaction to the globally dynamic economy 

Individuals involved with finance functions are being increasingly pressured to perform more efficiently in the current global markets. They are also under heavy scrutiny from the stakeholders who are constantly demanding faster results in larger amounts (EY, 2017). One reason for why this is happening is that technology is undergoing development at an extremely fast pace. This calls for the finance departments to utilize the opportunities and adopt the different innovations to enable themselves to become efficient and more effective. This can, in turn, aid in meeting the increased demands of the stakeholders.

Robots have the capacity to utilize the existing technology as well as the systems to enhance the performance and efficiency of the various processes while also being managed by the finance teams (Kokina& Davenport, 2017). Some of the departments where robots can come to good use are: data input and output, quality and reconciliation of data, reporting and various business rule applications. FAAS or Financial Accounting Advisory Services teams can often help one to identify those areas in an organization or its processes where the finances could benefit from robotics, and they can also lend significant support during the implementation of such changes. It is highly likely that there will be a marked reduction in the costs and a subsequent increase or improvement in the quality, reliability and the rate of satisfaction for both the customer and the employee.

Robotic process automation

Robotic Process Automation or RPA is intended at altering the cost, quality and the efficiency of the processes in accounting that various departments such as the customers and the back-office are reliant on in case of a business (Kokina& Davenport, 2017). In other words, RPA is that software, which can be used by enterprises on a professional level to mimic the manner in which humans execute their tasks by utilizing the interfaces that already exist. In this case, the robots become like a set of virtual workforces that are managed by the operations teams of the individual businesses. Moreover, these robots can easily function alongside the current infrastructure and can be conveniently controlled by the individuals.

The number of reporting systems, coupled with globalization and the changes in the requirements for regulation, are imposing a rather difficult situation for finance teams. As discussed previously, the stakeholders have developed this tendency to ask for more information, that too in a faster and more transparent manner. This has ultimately burdened the reporting functions and put them under severe pressure to deliver results more quickly. If RPA is incorporated into the working system, it is highly probable that these issues will be addressed sufficiently.

RPA is a field that has already been noticed by the public firms, especially those where the accounting department deals with taxes and advisory services, such as the calculation and handling of tax differences and returns. In some cases, RPA can also be offered to the clients in the form of an advisory or assurance service. In audit engagements, revenue is usually treated as an area with high risk, and the allocation of repetitive work by the auditors can improve the quality as well as the subsequent analysis of the differences that are generated by the processes (Moffitt, Rozario, &Vasarhelyi, 2018).

Analytical and reconciliation procedures: RPA can help auditors by enabling them to log in to a secure FTP site (file transfer protocol) in order to retrieve the relevant information. This also includes the sales listings for both the previous and current years, along with the trial balance (Moffitt, Rozario, &Vasarhelyi, 2018). An alert can also be raised in case the revenue amount for the yearly listings are vastly different.

Audit tests: RPA can be so programmed to calculate the differences in the price and quantity of the different orders, sales, invoices and shipping documents. It can also alert the systems for those transactions that are irregular or have marked differences in their price and amount. Auditors can therefore invest their time in more value-based activities, which would ultimately enhance the quality of the audits (Accelirate, 2018).

Approach to audits based on RPA: The purpose of using RPA is not just to make the mundane tasks easier but to also motivate and improve the reengineering of the various processes (Moffitt, Rozario, &Vasarhelyi, 2018). The approach to these audits is usually three-fold.

1. Process understanding: This step identifies those processes, which require the assistance of the RPA. The subsequent tasks get divided into smaller steps using a software, which aid in the better execution of the same.

2. ADS: Audit data standardization is when the RPA ensures that the data fields are consistent to enable its smooth functioning.

3. Execution of the audit tests: The final approach looks into the programming of the relevant software that would facilitate the automatic execution of the audit tests and implement it in a real-world situation.

Benefits of using RPA:Thereare a number of benefits that come with using robotic process automation. One of the advantages could be that the access and presentation of data from multiple sources or systems could be enhanced, which would ultimately improve the overall performance. The inefficiencies in the system can be singled out, and the RPA can be used as an interface between the various legacy systems of the enterprise. Moreover, both the quality and the speed of the numerous processes involved in finance can be enhanced by the presentation of a concise audit trail for supporting the compliance and regulatory needs. The overall advantages can be listed as follows –

Reduced costs: The improved quality and consistency of the data indicate that the functioning costs and the errors encountered would be minimized (EY, 2017). There can be a substantial amount of cost reduction due to the decrease in the need for manual human effort.

Improved customer satisfaction: Due to the reduction of the response time, customers would be more satisfied, since the RPA makes it possible to undertake quicker and easier approaches.

Improved employee satisfaction: Due to the elimination of the need to undertake repetitive tasks, the workers can focus more on their personal and individual development and invest more time in tasks that have added value and focus on gaining knowledge. This in turn would help in improving the rate of retaining the staff for an organization.

Enhanced audit trail:The logs provided by the robotic process automation are maintained in detail, which ultimately aid the reporting as well as monitoring the degree of compliance (EY, 2017).

Future prospects

It is evident that robotic process automation has a very important place in accounting and thus is being embraced by the professionals quite readily. Audit efficiency can be improved and made more effective with the use of the procedures based on RPA, and these changes in the accounting profession may be slow but they are taking place quite steadily. The professionals should thus be prepared to welcome this technological intervention, since the benefits it brings are numerous and rather integral to the functioning of any enterprise.

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