Unlocking time: Could Robotic Process Automations be a gift accountants?

Unlocking time: Could Robotic Process Automations be a gift accountants?

From achieving new efficiencies to improving accuracy and streamlining compliance, intelligent automation systems are helping accountancy practices make the most of their resources while paving the way for new business opportunities.

Across accountancy, early adopters of automation have seen it deliver value and significant benefits for many years now. Practices have been steadily integrating Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology to meet and exceed expectations surrounding improved productivity, simplified compliance, cost reduction, and increased quality and accuracy.

Simply put, RPA is saving practices precious time, and helping them to focus on more value-add tasks. It’s also giving precious time back to employees, who can focus their efforts on more rewarding, human-focused work.

Like all technologies, RPA is continually evolving, driven by the many innovative practitioners who use it daily. Accounting firms are no exception, and over the past few years, there’s been a real evolution in the application of RPA for specific use cases, processes, and workflows.

Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK is at the forefront of RPA innovation and combining it with artificial intelligence (AI), with the aim of making the workplace more efficient. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the new ways intelligent automation is helping practices streamline workflows, process more returns in less time, and free up advisors to focus on business development and growth strategy.

As automation systems have continued to prove its ability to accelerate activities such as data entry, data extraction, and data processing, many practices began to look at more complex workflows: instead of applying RPA and AI to only one process, they began to explore the time-saving possibilities of applying automation across entire workflows.

What do the new intelligent automation workflows look like?

As RPA technology has advanced, so have the workflows and their applications across practices. Advisors are also becoming more familiar with the technology, and have applied it to more sophisticated workflows, including those supporting personal tax automation.

The catalyst to help address these challenges is a combination of intelligent automation and AI. These capabilities are being proven and evolved to deliver big opportunities and profitable growth across firms’ operational environments.

How is this being achieved? Many practices have used RPA to automate the complete personal tax production process across each step and task.

This can include collecting documents and identifying tax-related information from clients, importing the documents into tax and accountancy portals, and extracting the correct data from these documents. It’s a robot augmented workforce that’s becoming a key part of accountancy firms’ culture.

Imagine having a team of robot accounting assistants working tirelessly round the clock, to automate the extraction and categorisation of tax data from client documents, organise and store these documents, and ultimately complete tax returns. All of this can equate to huge time savings for advisers who have, until now, had to do these tasks manually.

Intelligent automation, AI and document extraction capabilities are now being further extended to provide key accountancy services

Intelligent automation isn’t just faster, it’s better

Practices using intelligent automation for tax automation aren’t just seeing benefits in their turnaround times: they are also experiencing better results from an accuracy and compliance point of view. By automating repetitive tasks such as high-volume data entry, practices can eliminate human errors and improve efficiency.

Transaction matching is another high-volume task where automation can be applied: by automating the process of matching transactions, advisors can ensure that financial statements reconcile precisely, which helps match large volumes of transactions in tasks like bank reconciliation. Automation systems can also be trained to spot inconsistencies and errors in data.

It’s also important to highlight the human-centric benefits accountancy practices are seeing with intelligent automation. By automating repetitive tasks, advisors can focus on value-driven, human-focused work, which positively impacts job satisfaction.

Practices report that automation tools have become key in employee retention and recruitment: firms that embrace the technology are building their reputations as forward-thinking, tech-savvy institutions that put their employees first.

Achieving more with less

One of the biggest benefits of intelligent automation is that advisors can move beyond traditional financial reporting and compliance roles and free up staff to focus on higher-value tasks. They can dedicate more time to activities such as data analysis for new insight, and trend forecasting to identify new business opportunities.

This efficiency gain is especially welcome for practices that may be under-resourced, and, as we approach the deadline for compliance for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax, it could be a big help for practices looking to meet quarterly reporting requirements.

Wolters Kluwer has decades of experience of working with accountancy practices and our customers look to us for help with their journey beyond technology. We have built up extensive knowledge surrounding the challenges to practice growth and can advise on how automation tools can be used to overcome them.

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more about how we can help on your automation journey: [email protected]

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