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What is Robotic Process Automation in Accounting for Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

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Introduction

Technology has been growing at an enormous pace since the start of the millennium and continues to change society at a rapid pace. Accounting and auditing are by no means immune to it and have already fallen for it. New technologies have been able to increasingly mimic human activity, taking over repetitive tasks more quickly and accurately than humans. New competitors, new technologies, new business models are constantly evolving changing the way everyone goes forward.

The pressure on companies is increasing and everyone is looking forward to technology to help minimise the burden of repetitive tasks and increase efficiency of business operations. New competitors keep entering the market and the entire industries can be transformed within a very short span of time. In future, the finance function will no longer be limited to implementing processes in accounting, controlling, taxes and treasury that conform to compliance requirements. The finance function will neither be tasked to ensure that regulatory reporting requirements are met and that the company’s core functions operate effectively and efficiently as well.

Companies should try to use the possibilities of digitisation in Dubai within their finance function to gain significant competitive advantages. This will help them to develop a deeper understanding of their market position in comparison to their competitors. Through this, they can achieve savings by way of increased process efficiency. The below article provides an overview of the ways in which robotic process automation may change how the accounting profession operates.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Software applications like UiPath, Blue Prism, and Automation Anywhere have simplified the work and skill required to create an artificially intelligent accounting workforce, also known as robotic assistants. These robotic assistants have removed the need to understand computer code to integrate data movement in between multiple data sources. Similar to Excel macros, it is just an application that can remove all the copying and pasting of data in between different applications.

Robotic Process Automation in Accounting
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Dubai is the use of software and tools to configure virtual robots, based on existing systems, to perform rule-based tasks, so that the transactional process steps can be automated. It is often referred to as AI (artificial intelligence) and machine intelligence. RPA is defined as the use of automation applications, like UiPath and Blue Prism, to reduce the amount of human labour required to process accounting and finance department transactions. This helps in increasing the efficiency of a company, in the areas of Accounting and Reporting, Controlling, Treasury, Tax and Regulation, Risk and Governance, M&A and Valuation, Compliance and Investor Relations. Therefore, the error rate decreases and the process quality increases. Just think of “accounting robots” as a tool to reduce the effort needed to move routine data between different accounting systems and outside applications, instead of being confined to just one.

Robotic Process Automation has already been implemented in Dubai and has garnered interest from public accounting firms, especially in the fields of taxation, advisory, and assurance services. For instance, a significant portion of tax activities like the calculation of book and tax differences and the preparation of tax returns have been successfully automated by RPA software robots. This process is also offered to clients as an advisory product and service.

Robotic Process Automation provides an automated accounting landscape significantly changes the role of the accountant although not in the way one might think. Robotic Process Automation in Dubai is not trying to replace accountants. In fact it is trying to evolve their role and augment their effectiveness through automation so that the doing of repetitive tasks can be minimised and accountants can focus on more important works that help them to take better decisions. Although many people are concerned that technology will eliminate jobs, RPA is a technology that will only eliminate the most time-consuming, manual processes that have been preventing accountants till now from delivering the strategy and analysis that drew them to this profession in the first place. An expert from the article from CFO.com states that the transactional tasks will move to integrated business services solutions which use robotics, which will automate or eliminate up to 40% of transaction accounting work by 2020. According to Accenture analysis, this shift to robotics means that finance staff can spend more than 75% of their time, up from 25% today on decision support, predictive analytics, and performance management.

With accounting and finance professionals at companies of all sizes experiencing mounting pressure to do more with less, this shift is a necessary one. As the amount of financial data continues to increase, the challenge of making sense of it all and the expectation to provide the big picture of their organization is infinite. Taking advantage of this technology improves the efficacy that accountants need to deliver better intelligence. It also creates real-time access to financial data. This enables reporting and analysis to be done continuously which in turn provides the relevant, timely data. The executives need to inform business decisions and develop strategy, along with full confidence in the numbers.

Robotic Process Automation is the only way forward with the increasingly complex regulatory guidelines and the on-going changes to local statutory reporting. RPA is a progressive, positive, and necessary shift that helps in creating the digital workspace for accounting and finance professionals around the world to focus on the greatest value and contribution they can provide to their organization.

Advantages of RPA in comparison with the traditional system of accounting
Robotic Process Automation benefits in Dubai are both financial and operational, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Increased Quality and compliance: RPA increases quality by reducing errors making it a more accurate and reliable tool for accounting. Compliance also can be strengthened through automated controls thereby avoiding non-compliance and the resulting penalties.
  2. Increased efficiency: Since robotic process is all automated, it can increase processing speed bringing potential for increased efficiency.
  3. Uninterrupted work time: Since Robots don’t have any down-time except for maintenance; the processes can be performed independently throughout. This contributes as a step towards real time accounting. Since there are no working hour limitations. They can run throughout the year without any break, increasing productivity to levels traditional work can’t reach.
  4. Implementation: The robotic process automation does not require complex integration into existing IT architectures, and is hence a minimally invasive process for implementation. It acts both as a bridge and a layer, sitting on top/across current infrastructure, reducing reliance on needs to change a company’s IT infrastructure. The ease and speed of installation process gives it a major advantage over any other software that is in place till now. However, thorough research and analysis has to be done before putting everything in place so that there are no issues faced after implementation.
  5. Value addition: RPA adds value to the workflow by increasing employee satisfaction. This enables them to focus on value-added activities
  6. Scalability: Availability of virtual workers can be easily scaled and centrally managed with the help of Robotic Process Automation.
  7. Cost-effective: RPA is a one-time investment and also reduces the process costs with simultaneous short-term amortization of the investment
  8. Workflow can be customized: RPA in finance and accounting can be applied to multiple processes at one time; accounts payable, accounts receivable, financial close, controller work, financial planning and analysis, expense management, and even tax and therefore is not confined to one part of a process.
  9. Consistency and error reduction in work: Robotic Process accounting excels at error free data movement with reduced output variability thereby improving accuracy and consistency.
  10. Major lifting: With robots in accounting taking care of the repetitive and monotonous tasks like simple data entry works which constitute a big chunk of accounting work employees are free to tackle high value work where they are truly needed.

Even though RPA has so many advantages in Dubai, it is not a stand-alone solution for modern business process improvement in finance operations. However, if one is careful enough to pair it with the right depth finance department process analysis and work standardization before implementing, RPA can yield benefits far past any new system infrastructure implementation, even in short term, let alone long term.

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