Not your average pencil pusher
If your image of a CPA is anything like the jokes and stereotypes you see in movies, you may not think of RSM US LLP auditors as being part of a team of cutting-edge innovators who consider how the latest in data analytics and robotic process automation (RPA) can boost accuracy and efficiency in their practice. But you should, because at RSM, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
We foster a culture of innovation in which our auditors combine the best of their financial experience and accounting acumen with the latest in digital technologies to find ways that can make the audit process operate better than ever. This adaptability to an increasingly digital workspace has already proven vital to RSM’s perseverance through the challenges of COVID-19, as our workers shifted smoothly to remote and virtual environments and continued to be first-choice advisors to our clients.
Our multipronged approach to innovation taps into every auditor’s drive to build a better audit. What exactly are we doing? Dave Uhryniak, RSM audit innovation director, describes our approach as “digital upskilling.” He explains: “We are working to train our auditors and empower them to be part of a team that creates solutions as they go through their work.”
At every level—from our freshest faces to the seasoned pros of busy-seasons-past—our professionals are finding those areas of the audit that rely on time-consuming, error-prone manual work and exploring technologies to automate those tasks. It makes the audit more efficient and, critically, allows them to focus their energies on the most important part—analyzing the results.
Do you want to build a robot?
When Wendy Elliott thinks about what she expected in her career, the RSM audit manager says, quite frankly, that it wasn’t this.
“I’m not a tech person,” she says. “Or, at least, I didn’t imagine my work would be bringing new innovations to audit. But here I am using a bot.” As a member of a team completing audits for the 30-plus associations all under one management company, they saw the opportunity to introduce RPA to their process. “We wondered, ‘What could a bot do for us?’” she recalled.
As it turns out, a bot could do a whole lot. Elliot’s understanding of the intricacies of the engagement enabled her to convey a precise set of details to audit innovation manager Ryan Lim, who leads various initiatives to integrate automation into RSM’s audit practice.
“Wendy painted the picture of the engagement and identified the pain points that they’ve experienced in the past,” Lim says. “We determined where we could construct a bot to do the kind of work that would not only boost their time efficiency, but expand the breadth of their testing capabilities in ways unthinkable before in person-hours.”
We determined where we could construct a bot to do the kind of work that would not only boost their time efficiency, but expand the breadth of their testing capabilities in ways unthinkable before in person-hours.
Through RSM’s burgeoning work with Alteryx’s analytic process automation (APA) and our partnership with Automation Anywhere, Lim and crew created custom automation solutions to fit the needs of the engagement.
In Alteryx, the automation ingests and analyzes millions of lines of data to search, match, filter and identify areas to investigate as part of the audit. In Automation Anywhere, a bot mimics human interaction, opening software and working papers, collecting files with vast amounts of information, omitting the extraneous details while extracting the imperatives, and processing it all to a new structure. What used to take a person hours of pointing and clicking and searching and copying and pasting, the automations completed in minutes.