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Now we have a wide understanding of what is RPA and how can it be used in accounts. But how does one implement that? Let’s see in detail in the below article.
A firm has to check their various processes for implementation of RPA and decide the areas where it can be applied. Once it determines that a process is a good candidate for RPA implementation, the next step in the implementation of RPA would be to understand the process to divide audit tasks into small audit modules. This is done because the audit modules can be interpreted by software programs. For instance, the task of importing or exporting data is natural and intuitive to a human user, whereas for a software program, the task would have to be divided into a series of small steps.
These steps are enlisted below:
- Directory definition for import
- File import
- Save file
- Directory definition for export
- Execution of RPA-based tests
Let’s see in detail all the steps mentioned above.
- Directory definition for import – This is the first step in the sequencing process. This forms the base for the subsequent processes in the chain. This means defining the directory or the path from which the file is to be imported.
- File import – This means to browse and search for the file that is to be imported and subsequently importing the file.
- Save file – This refers to saving the imported file in the system.
- Directory definition for export – This means defining the directory or the path to which the saved file is to be exported.
- Audit data standardization – RPA audit applications need consistency across data fields to run as intended. Audit-related data may come from varied sources, such as the client’s ERP systems or third-party asset managers and across various applications. Therefore, data field names in different audit-related reports and applications that contain the same information may be different. Where there is no systematic scheme of organising things, RPA software cannot be able to execute the intended audit test. This in turn will impact the second stage in RPA implementation for public accounting firms to create an audit data standard for each process that can be replaced by RPA. Audit data standardization is becoming more relevant as public accounting firms consider the use of technology in financial statement audits and use ADS template to incorporate the audit-related data that is necessary to execute audit tests. The firm can try to design similar data field names and formats to ensure the RPA audit application achieves its intended objectives.
- Execution of RPA-based tests – This is the final step in the RPA audit implementation framework. The main purpose of this step is to program the software to automatically execute audit tests and deploy it on real-world audit engagements. There are numerous RPA software tools that public accounting firms can take advantage of like BluePrism (https://www.blueprism.com/) and UiPath (https://www.uipath.com/). Adopting ready-to-use RPA software tools gives the advantage that they require little to no additional programming. Programming languages such as Python and R require additional programming skills but they can also be used to assist in the deployment of RPA-based audit tasks since they already have libraries that are very useful for RPA functions.
Hence, a task which comes naturally to humans takes a sequence of steps when programmed into a robot. However, if programmed carefully, the result will greatly be beneficial since robots can process millions of data and know no exhaustion.