By Srikant Krishnan & Dr. S. Narayanan
Managing finances and compliances during the current period of pandemic is one of the core challenges of business owners, small and big alike. Organizations’ ability to generate, consume and analyze information, to take informed decisions and act upon it depends on the level of automation of the organization. In this contect following questions need to be answered:
- Is it possible to implement automation during these times of lockdown?
- What are the easily available tools to achieve such automation?
In this article, we answer these questions, discuss automation use cases, and explain how clients are adopting simple but effective and cost efficient work from home solutions provided by dMACQ.
Business continuity – by creating Digital Twins
During these times of crises, the biggest problem facing most businesses is the facility to continue normal business processes online in a manner that quickly maps all manual processes to their digital counterparts. This transformation will enable an efficient move to WFH (work-from-home) without loss of productivity for almost all companies during this crisis and after.
We focus on two key business elements of managing finances and managing compliances in these times of lockdown following the pandemic. The sections below discuss how companies have automated these processes during this period of lockdown:
Finance processes: such as employee salary and related disbursements, vendor payments, utility payments, etc. Some of the questions we address in this section are:
- Are you able to pay your employee salaries and re-imbursements?
- Are you able to account for vendor invoices and make vendor payments?
- Are you able to account for and close books of accounts?
Many companies are dependent on manual processing or on third party outsourced processing of payments, and the unavailability of these resources/services during lock-down times are affecting businesses core processes. Companies are unable to close their books, accounts and hence are affected in multiple ways.
Solutions adopted: Automating invoice collection via vendor portal (including employee expenses), auto-approval of invoices based on BOTs, which, layered with a web-based work-flow engine is one way of achieving a Finance Process Digital Twin. The processed transaction data can be integrated with organizations core ERP.
In one of the use cases we recently implemented, a simple flat file based data exchange routine triggers the move of open purchase orders from client ERP to the dMACQ digital platform and likewise the exchange of processed data back to client ERP from dMACQ digital platform. Customers also have the option of using ready APIs to exchange data as an alternate means of integration.
Many companies during these times of lockdown are not in a position to send hard copies of invoices. Digital invoices via emails are becoming the new norm. Some of the other automation tools implemented by dMACQ include invoice identification and extraction from emails and other digital media (like web-portals). dMACQ iRPA (intelligent Robotic Process Automation) solutions include auto-identification and extraction of invoices, auto-extraction of data from invoices, and creating automated accounting entries mapped to client financial accounting systems. Automated BOTs for posting accounting data is another ready solution.
Some of the more advance solutions being implemented includes AI based auto-classification of documents (i.e. identification of the page(s) in a pdf document that contains commercial invoice, packing list, transport bill, etc and further using RPA tool to auto-split the document into individual files for ease of processing).
dMACQ Digital Platform: The solutions discussed above combines one or more following functional modules of dMACQ digital automation platform:
• dMACQ Vendor Management Portal;
• dMACQ Document Management System;
• dMACQ Business Process Management Module; and
• dMACQ’s intelligent Robotic Process Automation.
Contractual and statutory compliance processes: ability to comply with statutory and contractual compliances/requirements such as lease commitments, financial commitments, statutory dues and compliances, responses to claims and litigations, etc. Some of the questions we address in this section are:
- Do you have access to necessary information/documents to check contractual obligations?
- Are you able to track the due dates for contractual and statutory obligations?
- Do you get automated notifications for forthcoming due dates and tasks?
- Are you able to create documents, collaborate with process owners and seek approvals to sign off on transactions/documents/agreements?
- Are you able to record and create audit trail for decisions taken?
Solutions adopted: Availability of business critical documents such as contracts, agreements, minutes, approval records, and the like is one of the basic needs of any organization to go digital. Secondly, secure and controlled access to these documents needs to be established. Thirdly, ability to retrieve, collaborate and create new information and records is essential. Lastly, any process is incomplete without a robust approval process that maps the organizations decision-making process.
The above-described requirements of contractual and statutory compliance management have been digitised/automated at various clients of dMACQ, and are using one or more of the following functional modules of dMACQ digital automation platform:
• dMACQ Contract Management System
• dMACQ on-line collaboration tools (ready integration with Microsoft Office 365, Google Docs or use of dMACQ’s inbuilt on-line editing facility using OnlyOffice)
• dMACQ Case & Legal Management System
• dMACQ email integration
Using the above tools companies are able to:
• readily search and refer to existing contracts/documents remotely;
• track compliance due dates;
• set reminders and notifications;
• collaborate and communicate with process teams; and
• process transactions completely working from home (with proper security and audit trail).
Some of our clients are also collaborating and communicating with their external consultants like lawyers and accountants from the same digital platform in a secure and controlled manner. Email integration is another key feature of the solution, whereby, ability to auto-classify and route emails to work-flows and collaboration tools makes approval and decision making process automation complete.
All dMACQ tools come with industry grade security and can be easily integrated with organizations user authentication protocols/tools. Further, dMACQ’s Robotic Process Automation tool has been extensively used to migrate data from existing systems to dMACQ platform with speed and accuracy.
The primary requirements for enabling digital twins for business processes include a repository to store digital documents that can viewed by all stakeholders as per their access rights, a business process builder system that allows companies to create digital versions of their business processes, and an easy-to-use user interface that is platform neutral and can be accessed by all employees from their home computers.
dMACQ’s WFH Solution is in use at several companies that are now deriving the benefits of digitally optimized workflows that are seamlessly integrated with their mobiles and desktops. WFH Solution stores all documents in its repository and provides a browser-based interface that can be easily accessed from anywhere; moreover, dMACQ’s WFH Solution can be hosted on-premise or on cloud. dMACQ’s WFH Solution helps employees remain digitally close even if they are socially distant so that the productivity of the team is as good if not better than before.
As businesses are embracing work from home they are realizing the gap in their digital journey and are aggressively preparing for automation. This phase of lockdown is also enabling business houses to see which critical gaps they are experiencing in their digital automation journey and hence will enable them to automate those processes first.
In this article, we discussed the two most critical business processes (namely financial process and contractual and statutory compliances) that are being automated by organization as being most critical.
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