According to Gartner, approximately 80% of finance leaders have implemented robotic process automation (RPA) or are planning to. Adopting RPA for tax operations might sound like a tall order, but it’s not as hard as you think. Here are five things you should know about RPA if you want to improve your property tax process:
RPA is a technology that creates efficiencies in business by performing repetitive, clerical tasks more quickly and accurately than humans. Learn more about RPA (robotic process automation).
#1: Reducing Headcount is Not the Goal
RPA for tax isn’t a tool for replacing jobs. In fact, a special report in CFO Magazine notes that “few companies delving into RPA intend to use the technology to cut headcount.” Instead, companies implement the technology to help their teams scale during periods of growth or to create efficiencies that free up time for more important projects.
#2: You Don’t Need to Automate Your Processes from End to End
When adding to your technology stack, it’s easy to go overboard by trying to apply the tech to all of your projects at once. But when using RPA for tax (or when using any technology for that matter), you should focus on the increases in productivity and efficiency—the number of hours saved—not the number of projects that were automated. If you try to automate your entire process at once, you’ll get in your own way.
While there might be 20 tasks that could be automated with RPA, some might not be worth the investment. Instead, focus on low-effort, high-impact projects first, and automate additional tasks down the road. Along the way, you might find that some projects are too complex to automate and require human intervention, and that’s okay. The hours you saved automating individual steps in the process are well worth the investment.
#3: Don’t Try to Standardize all Your Processes Before Implementing RPA
Just like you don’t need to automate from end-to-end, you don’t need to have a perfect process in place before introducing RPA. Because RPA is more efficient and accurate than humans, you’ll find that the bots don’t need to follow all the steps that were in your manual, human-driven process. If you spend too much time trying to standardize your processes up front, you might end up wasting time to perfect a workflow that no longer applies.
Instead, standardize as you adopt the RPA technology. As you learn to work with RPA, you’ll naturally find opportunities to improve.
#4: RPA Can Make Jobs More Interesting
As mentioned earlier in this post, RPA for tax professionals won’t replace jobs—it just makes them more productive. Specifically, RPA lets you delegate boring, time-consuming, and repetitive tasks that you don’t like doing anyways.
In fact, in an interview with consulting firm McKinsey, London School of Economics professor Leslie Willcocks said, “In the long run, RPA means people will have more interesting work.” Instead of spending hours (if not days or weeks…) entering and validating data, property tax clerks, analysts, and managers can re-focus on more interesting, value-add projects.
At PTX, we provide RPA-powered solutions that automate data gathering and entry, and one of our clients told us that they’ve been able to completely overhaul their team’s workload. Now, everyone on the team has the opportunity to contribute to strategic projects, and for the manager, it’s easier to identify high-performers that could advance within the organization.
#5: There are Different Types of RPA Solutions
RPA can sound daunting if you don’t have an IT team on hand to custom-program bots to fit your needs. While there are a range of RPA tools out there to help you create the bots, some are more user-friendly for non-developers than others. But there are also options that don’t require your team to build the RPA framework at all.
Our TaxFeed product, for example, uses RPA technology to gather and standardize property tax data and to reconcile notice and bill images. Our team uses RPA to build the bots, and you benefit from the end results—your property tax values and bills in data tables that are available in an online portal. Our clients benefit from the RPA technology by eliminating repetitive tasks like data entry and validation, but they don’t have to rely on their internal IT team or learn new skills themselves to do it. For small property tax teams that are often strapped for resources, we’ve seen that this type of solution is ideal.
If you have the internal resources and are interested in developing your own RPA framework, you can compare the most popular RPA tools on G2.
Register for Our RPA Webinar
To learn more about what RPA is and how it can be used in property tax, join our webinar on November 17 at 1pm ET/10am PT!