How tech is revolutionizing accounting: The CFO
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Professional Insights

How tech is revolutionizing accounting: The CFO

4 months ago · 2 min read

An RPA app has literally made a name for itself with its invoicing work for Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited.

CFO: Standardizing and speeding up processes

Air cargo is a busy endeavor as businesses across the world work to overcome supply shortages that have stubbornly persisted since the start of the pandemic.

“Robbie” is helping speed things up for Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (HACTL) with outstanding invoicing service. He’s popular with the company’s customers, doesn’t make mistakes and can work an incredible number of hours without a break.

“The customers appreciate the promptness or the speediness of having an invoice sent to them by Robbie,” said Amy Lam, FCMA, CGMA, executive director and CFO at HACTL.

“Robbie” is the company’s name for a popular robotic process automation (RPA) invoicing software that has been trained to standardize and perform HACTL’s invoicing process. His development is just one example of how accounting professionals in corporate finance departments across the world are taking advantage of the newest technology in their quest to perform tasks faster, more thoroughly and more accurately than ever. This frees time for finance personnel to meet a growing list of demands as their responsibilities have generally increased in recent years.

At HACTL, Lam has been an enthusiastic adopter of new technologies:

  • Robbie emails invoices to charter flight customers and airlines that come to HACTL as new customers. Robbie’s efficiency helps HACTL settle accounts more quickly with customers. He also prepares monthly audit trail reports for the company that summarize and track various activities.

  • An artificial intelligence (AI)-based accounts payable automation program helps HACTL process its bills from vendors effectively and efficiently.

  • Optical character recognition (OCR) software at the company works with RPA technology to perform otherwise tedious data entry for processes such as air cargo documentation. The company also plans to adopt OCR technology for accounts payable for small vendors that insist on sending paper invoices.

All these technologies eliminate the need for HACTL’s staff to perform monotonous, repetitive tasks, freeing them to provide more high-value services. Because RPA and AI software also requires standardization of processes, the designing of the systems often results in elimination of unnecessary steps.

Because multiple departments often need to work together along with the IT department to put the technology in place, a spirit of cross-functional collaboration forms during implementation. When the process becomes more efficient and effective after implementation, the finger-pointing and blame shifting that might have occurred in the past ceases.

“With a standard template, everybody bought into Robbie, and that helped to take away the complaints,” Lam said.

These successes have led to a desire to automate more processes at the company. Lam said it’s difficult to find the time for more innovation because the IT team is extremely busy with a high volume of cargo traffic.

But some automation of the company’s planning, budgeting and forecasting processes is about to be used for 2023 budget cycle, and some of the current software may be applied to more processes throughout the company. And in a busy workplace, the staff will welcome the efficiency that will result from more automation.

“Time saving is what we all expect will come,” Lam said. “Because otherwise, why do it?”

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