Robotic Process Automation is the use of software to automate human tasks and business processes.  It uses software installed on your computer, to copy the keyboard actions a human being would make, to complete the computer-based tasks that a human being would perform on a day to day basis.
Easy, right?
We look at some of the benefits of RPA…

Finance Operations processes are ideal candidates for RPA as they fall into the success profile and criteria of short, repetitive and rules-based activities with a small number of outcomes.  And benefits are not limited to process efficiency alone…
1. Employee morale
I never like that task anyway! Morale can be boosted as colleagues no longer have to spend time completing repetitive tasks and can dedicate themselves to more value-added activities, such as producing insightful management information, implementing process improvements, or performing strategic planning.
2. Quality and compliance
Bots work to process rules and perform a task the same way each time. Internal control environments can be strengthened by taking manual controls and automating them. Bots will also leave audit trails. A stronger, more automated internal control environment could help to support a reduction in internal or external audit substantive testing procedures, thus potentially reducing audit time and cost.
3. Segregation of duty and control
The burden of SOD and role reviews are alleviated as Bots operate within their defined parameters, reducing the risks of non-compliance or breaching SOD rules. This also helps to strengthen the internal control environment.
4. Enabler to Intelligent Automation
RPA can be a step en-route to Intelligent Automation using machine learning as bots can be trained to make decisions at defined points in the process. It’s an enabler that makes analytics improvements more feasible.
5. Outsourcing alternative
RPA is an alternative to outsourcing, which means that processes can be retained and controlled using in-house capability, with a short chain of command. Budget that would have been spent on outsourcing can be invested in other strategic initiatives.
6. ROI
RPA is quick ROI and payback, as Bots can be configured without coding, and process elements can be re-used. Processes can be automated using drag and drop interfaces so Finance departments can see a rapid ROI.
7. Of course; efficiency, productivity and scalability…
As automated cycle times are quicker by design than manual processes, and RPA is scalable as Bots can operate 24/7, and could run at 100% utilisation efficiency.  Equally, Bots can be switched on and off to manage changes in work volumes, without personal impact, which can help to alleviate pressures on the team at period-end and year-end close.
And finally #8.
Leading RPA capability projects in finance will empower you and your finance teams to lead these projects for the whole business.  If you are concerned about your finance operations role and automation risk, fear not! Use RPA as a new skill and secret weapon to keep you relevant to the business in the future.
Stay tuned for learning #5: “Does RPA need a reality check?  We look at the risks and mitigations
Co-authored by Christopher Argent, Generation CFO and Vivien Preston, transformation and process improvement specialist.
More big questions here – #BQs