In the days before COVID-19, it was not unusual to see articles warning of the coming collapse of society because of technology and robotics. Now, amid the pandemic, when human contact is giving way to social distancing and remote work, the tone has shifted; robots will not be the cause of our doom and may even be our saviors. 

As entire workforces have moved to remote working environments and key finance and accounting activities like the financial close are being done outside of an office, technology is now the means by which organizations are ensuring business continuity.  

AvidXchange recently conducted a survey on how technology is aiding accounting and finance professionals. As reported in Accounting Today, the survey found three out of four accountants utilizing new technology because of the pandemic. The solutions they are adding include: 

  • AI
  • Machine learning
  • Real-time payments
  • Automation 

A majority of survey respondents said “new technology would make their job less stressful during the pandemic.” 

The more open attitude towards technology is something IMA has long supported. Even before the pandemic, IMA was focused on upskilling accounting and finance professionals in technology to remain relevant. Today, IMA offers a host of thought leadership as well as products and services designed to increase competencies in emerging tech. Our online Technology and Analytics Center provides the latest IMA content on tech, including articles, webinars, and online courses. 

The latest IMA offering in this area is a new research paper, “Transforming the Finance Function with RPA.” This Statement on Management Accounting (SMA) by IMA Director of Research – Digital Technology & Finance Transformation, Loreal Jiles, seeks to demystify robotic process automation (RPA) and highlight its critical role in enabling the finance and accounting transformation. The paper explores RPA technology, including capabilities and software, and explains its impact on the finance and accounting function, detailing RPA’s wide-reaching applicability to specific finance and accounting process areas.

While many organizations have yet to begin their RPA journeys or realize expected benefits, the paper also provides a blueprint for implementing RPA at scale, useful for large enterprises and small to mid-sized businesses alike, and demonstrates how finance and accounting professionals can derive the most value from the technology.

The paper concludes with a strong call-to-action for accounting and finance professionals to embrace RPA and other technologies as a way of adding value, reducing cost, and increasing efficiencies. Other IMA resources on RPA can help as well. These include: 

Count Me In Podcast: How Real is RPA in Finance and Accounting?
Strategic Finance article on RPA Governance: Govern Your Bots!
Webinar: Transforming the Finance Function with RPA
4-Part Online Mini-Course Series: IMA RPA Course Series 

As the accounting and finance profession is burdened with handling the COVID-19 crisis and maintaining operations and profitability at the organizations they service, new technologies hold much promise. Now is the time for management accountants to learn more about how they can be champions of this technology within their organizations.


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