Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time to Enable AI for SAP Finance and Accounting

November 25, 2020 by Stefanini

AI bots in finance and accounting can slash processing times, deliver savings, and ensure a 100 percent data accuracy delivery and costly errors elimination.

Author: Viplove Khushalani, SAP Technical Consultant & Technical Lead

In a typical digital transformation scenario like automating end-to-end financial processes across Procure-to-Pay, Order to Cash and Record to Report cycles, a majority of processes —anywhere from 50 to 90 percent — can be automated thanks to capture and workflow automation solutions. However, we continue to find gaps in automated processes where there are activities and tasks taking place between systems, such as getting and sending information from one application to another, logging into supplier portals to gather information, and manually updating financial data or ERP applications from Excel spreadsheets.

Taking Time to “Fill-the-Gaps”

No matter what level of business process automation you’ve achieved, even after analyzing these end-to-end financial processes, you may still identify gaps, which calls for a “Fill-the-Gaps” initiative. Consider identifying and then filling these gaps with artificially intelligent platforms and technology, robotic process automation (RPA), and an intelligent digital workforce that can automate manual tasks like copy-and-paste, data-gathering, and consolidation and data entry from one application to another.

The following are some of the gaps where we’re seeing highly-valued opportunities to automate and embed intelligence with AI:

Master Data Maintenance Gaps

  • Supplier onboarding and master data maintenance: Many companies have invoice portals that streamline e-invoicing, but onboarding new suppliers is still a manual process. The solution? Build a robot (RPA) and digital assistant that vets new suppliers with a complete report on credit scores, tax data, etc.
  • Customer onboarding and master data maintenance: Along with suppliers in the procure-to-pay cycle, new customers must be vetted and onboarded, and their data should be periodically validated and updated.

Finance Transactional Gaps

  • Price comparisons: If you are working with a large number of suppliers to procure a specific material with fluctuating prices, track changes and apply the best pricing automatically with an intelligent application or robot. Even robots can sneak into the web code to extract catalog pricing and deliver it in no time.
  • Sales Order exception processing: Sales orders often have specifications such as holding the price for a number of days. An AI robot can automatically do a price check and verify the current price against the sales order.
  • Delivery reconciliation: Delivery notes are reconciled with purchase orders to validate orders against shipments. AI can enable, check, and approve all matching orders, only notifying a human when there’s an exception. 

Financial Closing Gaps

  • Supporting the financial close process: The financial close and reporting process comprises all of the tasks and processes—from closing out sub ledgers to creating and delivering financial filings to regulatory bodies—that involve many systems, departments, and individuals. The process requires posting data from sources such as Excel to these sub ledgers, a tedious job that SAP Financial Cockpit along with AI-enabled tools like RPA and an Enterprise Digital Assistant (EDA) can automate and mitigate.
  • Data extraction for the accounting closing process: Across the business, departments and divisions record transactions in journals, which need to be consolidated and reconciled. An EDA with process automation capabilities can gather and consolidate transactions and reconcile them in your ERP while also making it available for financial closing.
  • Data management during closing: Consolidating and analyzing financial and operational performance is a business-critical function before finance closing, but gathering, processing, and delivering that information on time often feels like a relay race. An AI bot can take this race and not only lighten up the time-sensitive burden for employees collecting data, but also benefit executives who need information to gain insights into the business before closing.

A Real-World Example

Let’s say an enterprise needs to accelerate, streamline, automate, and track their accounting closing processes. The SAP Financial Cockpit has process automation robots and embedded cognitive AI capabilities that can keep up with even the most complex closing process while meeting regulatory requirements and financial reporting standards:

  • It can monitor closing tasks and alert the errors via an EDA.
  • There are pre-built templates based on standards to drive the closing process.
  • The EDA can streamline the closing process by self-healing job failures or other errors. 
  • Standard or custom RPAs can be integrated with an EDA to automate manual steps and programs.
  • Provides an intuitive, persona-based UI interface.

Apply AI to SAP Finance and Accounting with Stefanini

There is no better time to work smarter, not harder. AI bots in finance and accounting can:

  • Slash processing times by 35 to 50 percent
  • Deliver savings up to 25 to 50 percent
  • Ensure a 100 percent data accuracy delivery and costly errors elimination

Which of your financial processes can be embedded with artificial intelligence? At Stefanini, we offer the security, flexibility, and customization capabilities to fit any-sized bank. With our take on the EDA, we can help you apply AI to your SAP functions in the banking and finance sector and help you optimize your banking operations in the process.

Let’s move ahead and integrate digital intelligence into your operations – connect with us to chat today!

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