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  • Bart van Strijen, Partner |
  • Thomas Oschlisniok, Partner |

During process optimization it is recommended to consider automation of transactional process activities. Nowadays, automation requires no more complex programming skills or costly implementations, thanks to low-code platforms such as Microsoft's "Power Platform".

Process automation is essential for risk reduction in financial process flows

Process optimization through low-code platforms is increasingly present in the market. Through drag-and-drop solutions and low-code capabilities of the Microsoft Power Platform, even employees inexperienced in coding can rapidly automate processes.

Processes are often not updated due to concerns of business stability or budget constraints that for example, do not allow the implementation of a cutting-edge invoice handling workflow. Other processes may simply not be updated due to a lack of awareness of better options. As technology advances rapidly, there are multiple possibilities and options to improve processes and increase efficiency by avoiding cumbersome manual work.

This article highlights why process improvement is necessary and where simple automation solutions with the Microsoft Power Platform can create a significant process benefit for the accounts payable process, as highlighted in an example in this blog.

What are the benefits of automation with the Microsoft Power Platform?

Through automation with the Microsoft Power Platform, process steps in the end-to-end processes value chain can be automated easily, quickly and without having to implement complicated and time-consuming automation software. Besides increasing data quality, automation also improves security and provides a higher quality of standardized processes. Process automation allows employees to focus on value-adding activities, enabling the Finance role to step up from data processor to Business Partner delivering insights for business decisions. This is where the Microsoft Power Platform comes in, allowing companies to automate processes rapidly.

What is the Microsoft Power Platform?

The Microsoft Power Platform is a suite of apps, services, and connectors to various data sources that provides a rapid application and workflow development environment to build custom apps for various business needs in a simple and user-friendly environment. With over 400 data connectors available, the Power App can connect to various data sources. If a data connector is not available, then one can be created in the Power Platform itself through custom connectors. The Power Platform “democratizes” the business app building experience, enabling users without any programming knowledge to build feature-rich custom apps and workflows, to enhance existing tools through Power Automate, AI builders, or to provide completely new solutions to previously cumbersome manual tasks through custom Power Apps. This leads to increased process efficiency and reduced risk. To illustrate the capabilities of the Microsoft Power Platform, the accounts payable process automation serves as an example in the following paragraph.

Accounts payable process improvements through Microsoft Power Platform

To cope efficiently with a high number of invoices, most companies have adopted electronic invoice workflows. However, most workflows just replicate the physical process digitally, without leveraging additional digitalization potential such as automation or advanced analytics which is enabled through process digitalization. This is where Microsoft’s Power Platform can provide automation and analytics potential for invoices. For example, incoming invoices by email can be stored automatically in a safe folder using Power Automate. They can be analyzed using the Microsoft AI builder and, based on keywords, follow-up actions can be taken: for instance, if the invoice is above a certain amount an approval is automatically requested by email and triggered by Power Automate. Once the invoice is approved by the approving party, Power Automate can then save the approved data into an ERP. The Microsoft Power Platform can automate this process with tailored solutions that can be fast and easily programmed and adjusted anytime with little programming knowledge because of its low-code capabilities. The process itself and the processed data can be analyzed later with tools such as Microsoft Power BI to gain additional in-depth insights.

Finance transformation processes with Microsoft solutions are supported by KPMG with process and automation knowledge, leading to rapid implementation of market-leading practices. External support and solution knowledge enables an efficient deployment of automation and the set-up of compliant processes, while transferring automation knowledge throughout the organization.