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Accounts Payable (A/P) Automation with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)


What is the Accounts Payable Process and how RPA can help?

Executing finance and accounting processes, specifically accounts payable (A/P), poses a significant pain point for many businesses across various industries. Even in today’s technologically advanced business world, many accounting departments still rely on manual employee involvement and paper invoices in order to process payments. At the same time, many other companies depend on outsourcing to BPOs in order to have their finance processes transacted.

A/P processes are repetitive, time-consuming and typically require high levels of involvement from employees. As such, robotic process automation (RPA) is an excellent fit for the automation of A/P processes. But even so, recent research by Basware and MasterCard indicates only 20% of companies use automation software internally to alleviate their accounts payable headaches. While RPA isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all companies, the technology has the ability to help companies streamline their financial tasks in order create enhanced efficiency and operational control.

With this in mind, let’s consider the benefits – and challenges – of implementing a RPA solution to automate financial tasks, as well as the role BPOs can play in this process.

Challenges and benefits of automation A/P with RPA

As with the implementation of every new technology, there are doubts regarding the capabilities and success rates of RPA for A/P activities, especially because financial processes are so critical to the overall functionality of companies, particularly those in variant-rich industries. While RPA is making significant impacts in the automation of activities by companies worldwide, a recent Oracle whitepaper entitled “Process Automation for Accounts Payable” points to some of the challenges that RPA technology will face in transforming A/P activities. Some of these challenges include:

Despite these obstacles, there have been recent significant improvements in the capabilities of RPA, especially in terms of optical character recognition (OCR) and automated approval/exception resolution. Improved OCR, for example, has allowed companies to allow software robots to interpret and handle scans of paper invoices in a much more efficient manner. As a result of these developments, there has been an increased ability to handle invoice discrepancies and even paper documents without as much employee involvement. This means that RPA technology can deliver even more improvements to the efficiency of A/P processes to promote positive business outcomes and competitive advantages. Some of the benefits include:

Accounts Payable Automation for business process outsourcers (BPOs)

Many deployed RPA software robots around the world today are crunching A/P automated transactions. And while RPA alone isn’t a perfect cure in any automation scenario, it can have transforming impacts on how companies typically handle their finances. For the multiple benefits described, RPA is becoming an increasingly suitable option for companies, and even business process outsourcers (BPOs), that want to streamline A/P processes and their broader service offerings. Let’s consider how BPOs are benefitting, and can benefit even further, from RPA in the automation of back office processes:

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