Robotic process automation (the automation of business processes through workflow software) is a technology that helps businesses save time and money. Many early adopters have been using it for years, and more join their ranks each day.
Today we’re going to look at the Pros and Cons of robotic process automation, using the specific example of robotic accounting automation, a specialization of robotic process automation for the accounting field. Each item listed below contains a Pro and a Con. It’s up to you to decide whether you think the Pro or the Con wins out.
#1 Eliminates busywork, but engagement is required.
When an organization employs robotic accounting automation, it goes beyond buzzwords like “lean accounting” and “cloud accounting,” to something even more powerful – automated accounting. Suddenly, accountants don’t have to perform 3-way matching or manually enter data. The majority of the accounts payable process is automated, which is fantastic! They only need to intervene when there are exceptions or when higher-level thinking is required. The flipside is that employees must engage in these instances. If people fail to engage, processes can still get clogged up, just like before they were automated. Fortunately, a supervisor will be able to see where the stopping points are and intervene.
#2 There will be ROI… after an initial investment.
One of the main reasons that businesses invest in robotic accounting automation is the return on investment (ROI). As an example, after implementing robotic process automation, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee saw an annual savings of $100,000. While the ROI is indisputably there, some businesses may have trouble with the initial investment, which is generally only a fraction of the annual ROI. Still, expenses must be budgeted and approved. Management must buy in and prioritize automated accounting before the organization will be able to see a return.
#3 More promotions are likely; however, this means reallocation and maybe even structural change.
Here at DocuPhase, we’ve seen firsthand just how lean accounting can be. The majority of our accounting processes are completed by one individual, our CFO. Furthermore, with company-wide robotic process automation in use, we do not have any Administrative Assistant or Executive Assistant positions, as most of the administrative tasks are completed by our automation software. When a business is first adjusting to the benefits of robotic accounting automation, the adjustment period will probably include promotions and shifts in responsibility, as resources (people and time) can be used differently.
#4 While robotic accounting automation is Millennial-friendly, others may be resistant to the change.
As the years go by, and more and more Millennials enter the workforce, technology is becoming more important than ever before. These tech-savvy, digital natives are accustomed to being able to share information with the touch of a button, without having to do any tedious work on the back end. While some employees may be hesitant to try cloud accounting or robotic accounting automation, the Millennial generation will learn automated processes quickly and will find them more rewarding. (For more information about making your business Millennial-friendly, read “Preparing your business for the Millennial takeover.”)
#5 Employees will have more time and freedom to explore their strengths, which could potentially mean work style clashes.
Generally, employees fall into one of four different work style categories. However, when they’re continuously tasked with tedious, low-value tasks, they aren’t able to explore and capitalize on their strengths. Robotic accounting automation takes care of much of the manual work involved in the accounts payable process, freeing up employees to find their ideal work style and to explore their strengths and passions. When team members first discover their differences, they may not understand or appreciate the work styles of others, and management may need to take the time to acknowledge how different people contribute to the team in their own way.
#6 The team can be more mobile, so the business will have to make a conscious effort to maintain its office culture.
When business processes are cloud-based, employees are free to work from anywhere with an internet connection. This means reduced office costs. Additionally, the ability to work remotely is viewed as a benefit or perk by many employees. This isn’t limited to the Millennial workforce; it applies to all ages! Unless management is on top of the situation, the company culture may suffer, simply because there are fewer people physically present in the office on any given day. Potential solutions include having a designated day each week when everyone must be present for a meeting, or limiting the number of days per week that team members may work remotely.
#7 Because of the resulting growth and other benefits, the company will never want to go back to how it was before.
Once a business has seen and lived in the future of automated accounting, it will not want to return to the status quo. As one DocuPhase client (Alimera Sciences) reported after implementing the automation platform, “Everyone embraced it immediately, and it’s now such a standard part of our everyday business. I think everyone probably wonders why we didn’t have this before.” Simply put, robotic accounting automation is a gamechanger. Reverting back to your old processes would feel kind of like climbing back up a playground slide – not fun or logical.
For more information about robotic accounting automation and how it can fit in with your organization’s processes and goals, check out our website or request a free custom demo of the DocuPhase platform.