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The Growing Case of Automation
Ajay Singh Technology Leader, RPA | December 20, 2019
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With advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA), new business models, and evolving customers — the pressure on global organizations to lower costs and increase their productivity and profitability is constant. To stay ahead, they are trying to leverage any possible benefit they can have in terms of productivity, time, and cost savings to create automated systems and innovative solutions. The finance and accounting industry is no exception to this trend.

The Growing Case of Automation

A PayStream report shares that organizations spend one to three hours handling invoice processing issues like duplicate invoices and manual errors, among others, on a weekly basis, which incurs major time and cost. Prolonged invoice processing times scale costs per invoice and payment issues. Encumbered with the rising transaction volumes, manual processes, and complexities regarding payments and invoicing, there is a huge demand for reduced back-office costs, increased efficiency, and faster outcomes.

A study by the Institute of Financial Operations shares that approximately 50% of invoices are on paper, even now. Imagine an accounting clerk manually entering fields onscreen with physical invoices. In the face of rising customer and market demands, organizations are increasingly focusing on efficient operations with integrated automated management systems. Such automated systems are leveraged to drive shifts in the business processes and operating models. Intelligent automation (IA) is expected to reduce work by nearly 30% in varied functions, per KPMG research. The investments are growing and the overall spending in the IA market including robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning is estimated to reach $232 billion by 2025 from $12.4 billion today, according to KPMG.

Gartner rightly predicts that robotic process automation in some form will be adopted by 85% of the major organizations to achieve beneficial business outcomes by 2022. Innovative solutions based on RPA are transforming effort intensive work with automated systems which can speed up invoice processing and reduce expenditures significantly. Its ability to accelerate invoice capture and payment, mitigate inefficiencies, use of paper-intensive steps, and disjointed transitions in the process are some of the benefits. Unsurprisingly, RPA is believed to have the potential to cut costs for financial services by up to an enormous 75%, according to a KPMG report.

About 58% of organizations in North America still lag in the implementation of invoice workflow automation, according to a PayStream Advisors report. While there are organizations that still rely on paper invoices and checks, most are seeking to eliminate paper-intensive processes and leverage workflow automation tools to improve cash flow and efficiency. And why not? From reduced invoice processing costs by up to 70% to lowering the days from 20.8 to 3.8, and increased invoice handling from 100 invoices per employee per day to a staggering 3,000, automating invoices is the way forward. Besides, adopting automation reduces the paper invoice volume, facilitates quicker invoice approval, and ensures clarity on unpaid invoices, per the Paystream Advisors Report 2018.

Automation can not only streamline invoice processing and payments, but also improve the overall operations, enable service differentiation, and a more efficient back office. With tedious tasks now performed by advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, the professionals are able to take over advisory roles and generate greater value for their clients.

However, this may not be as simple to do, as technologies on their own aren’t able to unlock solutions for invoice processing. Changes in the financial realms are streamlined in partnership with vendors who observe process-driven solutions backed by technology, which provides the ideal framework for the organization. From designing and deploying solutions to consulting and support during the lifecycle, an innovative partner like HCL can help create new opportunities fueled by their innovative solutions.

HCL Value with the EXACTO Solution

Success in finance-related goals calls for exceptional levels of accuracy, speed, and cost efficiency. Organizations are increasingly turning to a combination of artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and analytics to transform their businesses, especially in this intensely growing regulatory environment. Leveraging the power of machine learning-based AI, EXACTO™ is an end-to-end offering to automate and streamline invoice processes, among others.

HCL’s most recent engagement with a leading motorbike manufacturer with operations across Europe is a testimony to EXACTO™ capabilities. The client wanted to reduce and improve the quality and accuracy along with accelerating their invoice processing system. In collaboration with HCL’s EXACTO™ solution combined with its RPA capabilities integrated with their E-Business Suite (EBS), the client was able to efficiently automate their highly repetitive and complex task of processing multi-lingual invoices from over 1400 European vendors.

With its major technical capabilities, this solution was able to extract information from scores of invoices in multiple languages rapidly, as it could include all the business rules to reduce exceptions. HCL helped the client free up their skilled resources, reduce errors, save cost, and increase throughput with the EXACTO™ solution. With 80% accuracy at field level for all documents to a 40% reduction in the average handling time, HCL helped the client automate data extraction, vendor identification, and enabled rich domain ontology to process invoice documents.

EXACTO™ invoice provided 40% reduction in the average handling time and enabled rich domain ontology to process invoice documents with 80% accuracy at field level for all documents.

Timely invoice processing ensures smooth business operations, and availability of resources and supplies, among others, without delays or penalties. Thus, organizations are choosing to invest in expert IA technology solutions and platforms in a bid to eliminate repetitive and manual processing for invoices. This also helps direct their skilled talent to more strategic tasks from the mundane. HCL’s end-to-end vendor partnerships along with their collaborative approach helps clients compete and excel in today’s ever evolving and complex world of finance with next-generation invoice automation and improved audit trails.

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