RPA and intelligent automation have sometimes struggled to find champions for certain business functions, but finance and accounting departments have been eager adopters of the technology from its earliest incarnations. The nature of processing and reporting requirements for the finance and accounting department in any organization makes it easy to see real impact quickly. A case study performed recently by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) highlights that impact.
The AFP case study followed the regional Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) team at a publicly traded pharmaceuticals company. Its monthly reporting processes to explain the region’s performance were daunting.
“The team downloaded all the reports related to profit & losses, go-to-market sales, e-market sales and more,” the authors explained. “The team members would retrieve and reorganize the data, then compare the actuals in the reports to the budget and identify all the key variances. Finally, to understand the reasons for these variances, they asked the relevant business partners questions about the business drivers, which required sending tens of emails, waiting on responses, and then preparing that input.”
While the analysis part at the very end of that process was the most important, 70 percent of the FP&A team’s time went into preparing the data and emailing the business units. The company believed the situation was ripe for RPA.
The RPA implementation shortened the team’s delivery of its monthly requirements by two days, saving the team 200 hours per year it used to improve the quality of its interactions with the business units.