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Best Practices for Introducing RPA to your Finance Team

Automation AnywhereBusinesses

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is often used to automate labor-intensive procedures involved in running an organization. RPA can help reduce errors and maximize productivity, particularly in repetitive tasks. This sounds intimidating at first, and to some, the thought of changing their traditional ways of doing things can sound even more daunting. However, integrating RPA can be very beneficial for employees. In a 2019 study by Gartner, RPA saved finance departments 25,000 hours of work a year. Even with this positive statistic, only 29% of companies actively utilizing RPA do so for financial reporting purposes. This gap in adaptation could be for a variety of reasons, including fear of change, tradition, or just the mentality “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?”

There is a significant efficiency gap that could be solved by contriving RPA in more financial spaces. With the proper training, education, and implementation, RPA can bring spectacular results for a business. Yet if an advocacy plan that communicates benefits with employees and engages them is not adequately developed, the full potential of RPA may not be achieved. To avoid this potential issue, companies need to carefully plan a strategy and communicate every step with team members. To begin this introduction, consider these essential practices outlined below.

Standardize Processes

With traditional financial practices, one person may do things slightly differently to another, however, when utilizing modern technology, having a standardized way to carry out a process is critical to the success of RPA implementation. If you are considering incorporating RPA bots into some of the financial processes in your organization, the first step is to analyze and standardize manual processes. With this information on hand, it will be easier to configure the bots to know precisely what to do (and employees should know the processes too). You must mandate work standardization for all employees at the same time as you’re implementing the robots. The hardest part of the configuration is rolling it out to employees, where the next practice comes into play.

Start Small and Simple

A great way to allow hesitant employees to see the benefits of RPA implementation is to select one specific point in operational processes and test RPA solutions this way. Employees won’t be too nervous because not everything is changing at once. They will be more responsive to the new technology being demonstrated, and offer truthful feedback before even more processes or tasks become automated. Ensure that the method chosen has a high volume of data for which processes can be pre configured for a simple, secure starting point. Your team will be able to experience the point of RPA bots, what they can do, how they can help, and warm up to the idea.

Start with one or two processes within the finance department. If this is successful on a smaller scale, you could even begin to roll it out to a larger group or more departments. By starting small, it is easier to see how the organization as a whole, specific team members, and customers respond to RPA. Study the responses and scale when needed.

Selecting Processes for the People

RPA should not just be about benefiting the company as a whole, but employees as well. Listen to the comments, concerns, and suggestions regarding this switch. They will have input on which processes may benefit them the most and what tasks should be front-running candidates for automation processes. Much of the fear surrounding RPA is that it will take away the jobs that humans do. This is somewhat true but in the best sense. RPA will assist in the monotonous, repetitive tasks that humans do regularly, which will then free up time in team members’ schedules to do more creative and beneficial tasks for the greater good of themselves and the company. Make sure employees are aware of these advantages. Clearly explain why you are making the switch and clearly define the benefits that will come from it.

Along with this, planning the execution is critical. Make a clear map of what employees can expect in their workday and how it will, and won’t, impact their roles and responsibilities. Ensure that everything is clear and know what their responsibilities will include after the process is fully implemented.

Getting Staff on Board with RPA

A mindset change in employees is crucial to the successful implementation of RPA. Reassure employees that RPA advances their skills and can keep them up to speed with industry developments as they happen. The critical factor in the shift of reluctance is about managers and employees having open communication to discuss how responsibilities and processes will change, what training will be available, and if professional development can be pursued in place of manual tasks that will be removed from a team’s workweek.

Ensure that employees are educated about the changes and processes to come. Take advantage of the technological advancements available to help, such as webinars, training videos, questionnaires, training, and e-learning portals. Webinars and videos effectively communicate important information about the RPA implementation, the benefits, the rollout plan, success rates, how to get started, and more. Questionnaires can be utilized to measure the overall effectiveness of RPA by periodically checking in with employees. This is a simple and effective way to see if the RPA deployment meets expectations, goals and to see if anything can be improved. HR and training departments should also provide thorough training programs and e-learning modules to give employees access to educational tools to learn more about an upcoming RPA project. These modules and educational tools should be constantly available for employees (even after training) to have a constant reference guide in their workday.

Frame RPA as an Opportunity

Human reluctance to automated systems will cause them to see the bad more than the good regarding RPA. RPA needs a well-defined scope of work with reasonable expectations by employees. Some of the processes most suited for automation include payments, billing, and travel expense reports, all of which can be time-consuming and tedious tasks for employees to handle. By eliminating these mundane tasks, work productivity can soar. RPA allows you to direct your team members’ energy towards high-priority tasks, thereby improving your organization’s productivity as a whole. Jobs will not be lost but created. There will be new roles created to manage the RPA solution itself, such as a controller to manage scheduling and monitor processes and a process developed to maintain model processes if applications change, in addition to others.

An RPA bot cannot do all tasks required to run a successful organization. However, they can assist employees in various tasks, lighten their workload, and improve productivity. Conduct internal research on where RPA bots can best be utilized within your organization (best integrate blog), talk to team members, and constantly communicate with them. RPA is an incredibly beneficial tool that can modernize business processes and offer the business itself a competitive advantage.

RPA Training for Finance Professionals

At K2 University, we’ve partnered with industry leaders Automation Anywhere to offer RPA Training for Finance Professionals. Our Mastering Bots course offers best practices, certificate guidance, web data management, and chat bot development – find out more.

Ottilie Wood

Ottilie has worked with K2 since 2019. Over that time she has specialized in content creation to engage our world-class clients and customers.

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