Robotic Process Automation: Using Technology for Forensic Investigations and Compliance

yogi berra

As My good friend Robert Mainardi says, When presented with any new technique, approach, or methodology, there is always the temptation to jump right in and start using it without developing the proper standards., which taken further could mean, If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else. – Yogi Berra

Robotics

Moravec’s paradox is the discovery by artificial intelligence and robotics researchers that, contrary to traditional assumptions, high-level reasoning requires very little computation, but low-level sensorimotor skills require enormous computational resources.

What this probably means is that it’s hard to teach machines to do things that are easy for most humans, like walking. but comparatively easy to teach them things that are challenging for most humans, like the game of chess.

So, applying technology, including robotic process automation to repetitive, manually intensive monitoring and testing activities allows the organization’s internal audit, compliance, or investigative team to focus their efforts on intricate or complex issues requiring judgement, like conducting a root cause analysis on a compliance breakdown or even worse, interviewing an alleged fraudster.

Today’s Landscape

Many organizations are facing tremendous pressure to increase their productivity, reduce costs and improve their bottom line. One way to accomplish these outcomes is by implementing technology that appropriately includes robotic automation solutions.

There are many forces driving change and disruption is the new normal.

Using the right technology to combat uncertainty and manage known and unknown risks that can deliver actionable insight, mitigate compliance risk, enable strategic decision-making, and possible reduce cost.

Technology

Embracing and leveraging emerging technology, including robotic automation, will continue to play a key part in driving a more efficient and rigorous compliance program and aid in conducting more efficient forensic investigations. For example, technology can be used to enhance continuous auditing or monitoring techniques, which some benefits are listed below.

  • Internal Audit  – Increase auditor business unit knowledge and exposure. Proactive identification of trends and root cause focus. Establish and foster business management relationships Enhance audit product offerings Manage audit workload more effectively and efficiently.
  • Audit Committee – Expansion of risk and audit coverage Standardization of audit results
  • Compliance and Management – Validate compliance with existing policies and procedures. Provide potential methodology for self-assessment
  • External Partners – Potential reduction in external work performed

How it Works

Robotic Process Automation (“RPA”) structures and connects multiple fragmented systems to capture process actions, such as transactions and data manipulation, to trigger responses and communication with other digital systems without changing the current IT landscape. Yes, we even have tools that can pull data from legacy systems without writing code!  This dramatically simplifies workflow with minimal disruption to your existing infrastructure.

RPA works like a virtual employee by replicating keystrokes and performing repetitive tasks that consume employees’ valuable time, and is expanding rapidly to take on even more challenging tasks.

Practice

Today, leading practices like my firm Baker Tilly, couple advanced RPA technologies with extensive process subject matter expertise to design and deploy effective RPA solutions that achieve higher rates of success and outcomes related to error and cost reduction.

For an organization, implementing RPA is a journey and requires a shift in mindset to innovate their way of doing business and assimilate the ‘robots’ in their human workforce. This is accomplished by first identifying high volume, repetitive, manual or low-value business processes, and then transforming these manual processes to an automated platform that should provide higher efficiency, better security, and better quality with a rapid ROI.

The automation journey leads to the establishment of a robotic center of excellence that supports adoption and optimizes the robots for future business applications across the organization.

Closing

The Forbes Insights Report “Audit 2025” notes that “audit is changing at an unprecedented pace as technology continues to evolve and clients increasingly expect more.” Forensic investigations, and compliance likewise are ripe for evolution as it continues to harness incredible revolutions in high tech.

Baker Tilly can help. Please reach out to me and we can have a confidential discussion.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments and remember no topic is undiscussable!

Best!

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Jonathan T. Marks, CPA, CFE

Attribution-

Robert Mainardi – Harnessing the Power of Continuous Auditing: Developing and Implementing a Practical Methodology

What is Robotic Process Automation?,” Institute for Robotic Process Automation.