How Robotic Process Automation may change the role of accounting professionals?
By Béla Kakuk, BPiON
We all know that technology has reached the level that robots can take over many repetitive tasks from humans and mimic their activities, reaching effciency and better quality levels. The accounting and payroll profession is not immune to these trends; moreover, they are some of the first sectors significantly impacted by RPA (Robotic Process Automation) methodologies.
Does it mean that the tasks of accounting and payroll clerks will disappear? We should not push the panic button yet since the ‘digital workforce’ is more of a buzzword than reality now, but this will change for sure.
Accounting and payroll procedures already use a lot of technology tools and interfaces. RPA is not an additional one, but a software combining all the satellite applications into one single procedure. It is very important whether we define the solution as a product or a hybrid model of processes and tools controlled by private individuals. Since the underlying technology already exists (such as one of best-known NICE products) and has proved to be useful for million business cases, it should be defined moreso as a product, but the human factor remains more critical than ever. We believe that more than 50% of the repetitive tasks of accounting and payroll processes can be fully automated, therefore, the role of accounting and payroll clerks may change significantly to a more senior coordinator type of profession.
RPA tools not only make repetitive tasks faster, but their implementation provides a good opportunity to reengineer existing procedures. New roles will include a solid understanding of how data is captured, stored, converted, and reported in order to take necessary actions if error reports occur.
In order to address all the previously mentioned changes, we will see a significant shift in roles, rather than massive cuts of the overall jobs. Humans should analyse results more, instead of doing the transactions themselves. Accounting and payroll experts will become real business partners to help management make strategic decisions.
So, what are the new abilities accounting and payroll clerks should have to be ahead of the game in their profession?
- They should have a high-level of general technical knowledge or so-called digital mindset. Accountants should be techsavvy professionals, who learn new technologies continuously.
- Monotone tolerance capabilities will be obsolete and more analytical skills will dominate these roles.
- Being open-minded and embracing change are key factors. Accountants should know how to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
- Accountants should have a consultancy approach towards managing process re-engineering projects.
- Communication skills become crucial since actions should be initiated faster if certain processes stop. Information remains useless if not presented and shared effectively.
- Coordination and people management should not only be known but also be exercised over peers and people in higher positions as well. Accountants must start building networking bridges so as to be confident enough to act as coordination centres.
The time to become a catalyst for this change is here and now.
Published: January 2019 l Photo: Rawpixel Ltd. - stock.adobe.com