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With thought leaders such as Microsoft making advanced technology more accessible than ever before, the opportunities for businesses to leverage technologies for automation and artificial intelligence are endless.  

Among the great contenders for these new technologies are repetitive financial processes that have long since hindered finance professionals from dedicating more time to innovation and growth. Customer orders, receipts and supplier invoices – often in their thousands and in a range of formats – require copious amounts of processing time and limit finance teams from focussing on tasks that add more value to their business. 

Several studies have shown that the average time to process an invoice manually is in excess of 10 days at a cost of more than $12 each! Yet studies also show that invoices processed automatically take less than 4 days and cost as little as $3.  

Given the numbers, it’s no surprise that automation should be at the top of every organisation’s digital transformation plan.  

Finding the right automation solution 

Regardless of the size and nature of your business, the best automation solution is always going to be one that is: 

  • cost effective 
  • fast to deploy 
  • proven to accelerate time to value
  • easily integrated with key business systems 

Having worked closely with organisations across a range of sectors to streamline business processes with automation, we have seen first-hand how Microsoft’s Power Platform suite of products achieves each of these strategic outcomes and more.  

In a recent study by Forrester on the economic impact of Microsoft’s Power Automate, the solution was found to be the most cost effective by far when compared with other robotic process automation (RPA) technologies, and was able to achieve a complete return on investment in less than 6 months.  

When choosing to deploy a new RPA solution within a finance division, it’s critical to ensure that it is capable of solving your business’s unique challenges across a range of finance processes.  

For example, your business may receive supplier invoices in PDF format which has traditionally been difficult for legacy data matching technologies to read. This gap between the given input format and the required format (specific to your finance system) means manual intervention has always been inevitable.  

However, cutting edge AI-driven RPA solutions such as those offered by Microsoft are now highly capable of interpreting PDFs and converting data to whatever format is required. Once set up properly, this conversion process takes mere seconds and saves finance professionals countless hours as they no longer need to trawl through invoices, read them, and transfer the data to the central business system. It also eliminates the potential for human error, which is a common cause of unnecessary financial loss.   

A second consideration when selecting an RPA solution is integration. Microsoft’s Power Suite of products integrate with both native and third party applications to provide a seamless user experience. When configured according to best practice and integrated effectively with your finance system, the results are effortless workflows and unprecedented efficiency for users and the business.  

Set up to scale 

The ideal way to approach any new automation project is to target the most repetitive and time-consuming process first, then scale the capability to take on other processes that are also costing you time and money.  

In the case of finance, automating accounts payable and associated approval workflows is usually the best place to start. This can then be scaled to include automated processing of: 

  • accounts receivable, such as invoice generation and receipts 
  • payroll, expense reporting and reimbursements 
  • cashflow forecasting and monitoring 
  • financial reporting 

Together, these have the ability to save organisations and their staff countless hours of manual labour which is time that can be redirected towards financial analysis, strategic planning, risk management, stakeholder engagement, and so much more.  

Working with Antares to deploy your new RPA solution 

Overturning potentially decades of embedded processes in an established organisation is no easy feat. However, utilising the right technical and business support will give your automation project the best chance of success.  

As both a Microsoft Digital and App Innovations Solutions Specialist Partner and Managed Partner with Microsoft, we have extensive experience supporting organisations of all sizes to get the most out of Microsoft’s suite of products.  

This includes developing customised automated solutions using Microsoft’s Power Platform products which integrate with required business systems, solve specific business challenges, and enhance operational efficiency.   

During your automation journey, we will: 

  • meet with your stakeholders  
  • review key business processes  
  • workshop and analyse process workflows 
  • design and develop the solution 
  • provide full documentation 

Part of developing the solution often includes establishing a foundational process – such as extract and map – where we teach the technology how to extract information from a source in a location (i.e.: PDF invoices in an email inbox) and enter it into an appropriate system (like an ERP). This is quite a technical process and requires us to establish the logic, configure the integration and data flow, set up error handling processes, and so on.  

However, once tested and live, this proven architecture can then be scaled out to a wide range of other tasks that are also appropriate for automation.  

Although it can feel daunting to contemplate this type of change at scale, our commitment to agile delivery principles means we are always working side by side with you – actively demonstrating value back to the business throughout the process with regular stand-up meetings, product showcases, feature demos, and collaborative knowledge sharing. 

To learn more about saving time and money with an integrated RPA solution for your business, simply get in touch.