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Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable Automation for Retailers and FMCG Manufacturers
Maintaining manual tasks and data entry is critical for the accounts payable invoice preparation and receivable collection related processes. The use of spreadsheets and accounting software would yet require specialized human intervention to validate data and ensure compliance. With the advent of RPA bots, businesses now stand a chance to reduce turn-around times required to prepare any financial data reporting as and when needed.
Let us take a look at how manual processes and spreadsheets used by finance and accounting teams are being replaced by automated workflows.
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When the customer receives an invoice for payment, an analyst must validate the invoice information against data in the client’s SAP application. The first step is to save a copy of the invoice in a shared directory after downloading it from a web application.
The analyst then needs to retrieve data from eight separate elements spread over three applications: supplier name and number, invoice number, purchase order number, currency, tax amount, net amount, and invoice date. The analyst then needs to enter the SAP program to confirm the supplier number and name. If the supplier does not exist in the program, the analyst must add it manually. Finally, the analyst needs to upload the validated invoice, assign it a unique identifier, and route it for approval.
By integrating RPA Bot, you can automate invoice validation, from gathering, validating, and updating invoice information in the client’s web application to creating a unique identification number to enable fast payment processing.
If a supplier does not exist in the client’s online application, the bot can create one before uploading the invoice. The bot can generate exceptions requiring human intervention if the purchase order number is absent in the SAP application or when the invoice is not standard. At the end of each day, the bot can send an email with a complete summary of processed and unprocessed bills.
Sales teams face a key challenge in consistently delivering invoices to client organizations’ right contacts and receiving timely payments. Manual invoice delivery and payment tracking processes are prone to errors and delays. It leads to frustrations for clients as well as the sales team members. Additionally, sales agents end-up spending significant time on administrative tasks, diverting their focus from core sales activities.
Integrate your CRM system with an automated invoicing and payment platform to maintain accurate and up-to-date contact information for each client.
Automated Invoice Delivery
Automate deliver invoices directly to the appropriate contacts within client organizations. This way, it will ensure that invoices reach the right person’s email and track delivery.
Payment Tracking and Reminders
The platform tracked payment statuses and due dates for each invoice. Automated reminders were sent to clients a few days before the payment due date, prompting timely payments.
Sales Agent Dashboard
A dashboard was created for sales agents, displaying the status of all invoices associated with their clients. Agents could easily view which invoices were delivered, viewed, and paid.
Automating AR and AP processes with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can reduce errors, shorten processing times, and improve compliance. However, you need to take a deeper look at data that is necessary to make any automation successful. There are many software products that come with the promise of automation and it is easy to get swayed by the features and end-results promised through an attractive visualization. Too often we see businesses invest in a new software only to realize that unstructured data remains an unsolved challenge.
Unstructured data from different systems, departments, functions, and stakeholders can look like a thousand moving parts scattered across the organization. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the automation is well-designed and aligned with your existing IT landscape comprising of – ERPs, CRMs, Spreadsheets, Reporting Tools, Platforms, Data warehouses and more.
Automating Accounts Receivable (AR) and Accounts Payable (AP) processes with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) requires careful planning and execution. Here’s an essential checklist to consider when automating AR and AP with RPA:
Process Assessment and Selection:
Identify the specific AR and AP processes that are repetitive, rule-based, and suitable for automation.
Prioritize processes based on their impact on efficiency, accuracy, and business outcomes.
Detailed Process Mapping:
Map out the end-to-end workflows of the chosen AR and AP processes to understand all the steps involved.
Identify decision points, data interactions, and integration points with systems and databases.
Data Extraction and Integration:
Ensure that RPA bots can extract data from invoices, receipts, emails, and other relevant sources.
Integrate RPA bots with accounting systems, ERP software, and other relevant tools to update and retrieve data.
Develop RPA bots using appropriate RPA tools (UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, etc.).
Program the bots to replicate the manual steps of the processes, including data entry, validation, approval workflows, and more.
Design the bots to handle exceptions and errors during data extraction, validation, or processing.
Implement decision-making logic for cases that require human intervention.
Security and Compliance:
Ensure the RPA solution meets data security and compliance regulations (GDPR, HIPAA, etc.).
Securely manage access to sensitive financial data and implement encryption where necessary.
Testing and Validation:
Thoroughly test the RPA bots in a controlled environment to verify accuracy, reliability, and performance.
Test scenarios, including edge cases and exceptions, to ensure the bots handle them effectively.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT):
Involve end-users and stakeholders in UAT to validate that the automated processes meet their requirements and expectations.
Interact with employees affected by automation to ensure they are aware of the changes and their advantages.
Provide training and support to help employees adapt to the automated processes.
Monitoring and Maintenance:
Set up monitoring mechanisms to track the performance of the RPA bots in real time.
Regularly review and update the RPA bots to accommodate process changes, system updates, and evolving business needs.
Design the RPA solution to be scalable, accommodating increased transaction volumes as the business grows.
Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of the automation, such as processing time, accuracy, and cost savings.
Continuously monitor the performance of the automated processes and gather feedback from users.
Identify areas for optimization and enhancement to achieve ongoing process improvement.
By following this checklist, you can ensure a systematic and successful implementation of RPA for automating AR and AP processes, leading to improved efficiency, accuracy, and overall financial management.
Automating Accounts Receivable (AR)
Invoice Generation and Sending
RPA bots can automatically generate invoices based on predefined rules and templates. The bots can also email customers invoices and update the accounting system.
Bots can send automated payment reminders to customers whose invoices are due, improving collections and reducing overdue accounts.
Bots can match incoming payments with invoices in the accounting system, reducing manual efforts and errors in reconciliation.
RPA can identify customers with overdue payments and trigger automated credit control actions, such as sending escalation emails.
RPA can make it easy to comply with legal requirements, currency rates, and contractual obligations of different regions where business is operational
Automating Accounts Payable (AP)
Invoice Data Extraction
RPA bots can extract and enter data from incoming invoices into the AP system, eliminating manual data entry.
Invoice Approval Workflow
Bots can route invoices for approval based on predefined workflows. They can also escalate approval delays to designated personnel.
Purchase Order Matching
RPA can match invoices with corresponding purchase orders and receipts, ensuring accuracy and preventing overpayments.
Bots can initiate payment processing based on approved invoices, sending payment instructions to the banking system.
RPA can send automated emails to vendors confirming receipt of invoices, payment status, and any discrepancies.
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