Finding your cheese: How an F&B manufacturer is slicing inefficiencies with finance automation


Discover how an Australian food and beverage manufacturer leverages robotic process automation to transform its finance function, and reduce its processing cycle time by 90%

The global economic outlook and the possibility of downturn are very real concerns for business leaders, with most looking to take advantage of this period to invest in key technologies that could lower costs in the long run. With several unknowns on the horizon and budget cuts looming, most business leaders are choosing to postpone investments in technology that take years to mature. Instead, technologies like automation are topping the priority list because not only is the ROI clear cut, but the time to value is also shorter.

Businesses are also grappling with labor shortages, and struggling to hire and retain employees in this recessionary environment. While today’s work is largely digital, the mind-numbing repetitive and manual work is still very much part of the way most organizations operate. Highly-skilled employees often spend a vast amount of time at work extracting, entering and processing data, and manually transferring this data into several applications. Automation is key in overcoming these people-related challenges. With Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology, businesses can look to partially or fully automate human activities that are manual, rule-based, repetitive, or time-consuming. Having a digital workforce of bots who work alongside sounds great, but is it achievable? Absolutely.

When a leading Australian food and beverage manufacturer sought to transform its finance function, it turned to Fortude. Previously, the finance team was using multiple applications for the same operation, and the lack of integration between the various systems meant they often had to spend a lot of time extracting data from the disparate systems. Several key resources also had to spend the bulk of their time cleansing the data prior to uploading it to their ERP. Employees also had to manually compile and distribute reports. This meant that key knowledge workers spent a significant amount of their time on mundane and repetitive tasks. The lack of an integrated system also meant that response times for customer, vendor and other key stakeholder queries took over a day. Kickstarting the implementation for the Australian F&B giant, Fortude’s process consultants first identified five key finance processes, namely:

  • Accounts Receivable (AR)
  • Accounts Payable
  • Costing
  • General Ledger (GL) and Reporting
  • Fixed Assets

Using these processes as the foundation, Fortude identified a range of other use cases which the client desired to implement. Let’s take a look at the use cases identified for the transformation in each finance process.

Accounts Receivable:

  • Update payment records against invoices
  • Payment reminders
  • Amendments and corrections on payments
  • Provisioning
  • Accounting for bad debt
  • Inventory Reconciliations
  • Claim Reconciliations
  • Invoice Processing
  • Collection
  • Reporting

Accounts Payable:

  • Invoice generation
  • Reverting to suppliers for invoice variances
  • Inserting PO details into the system
  • Handling manual account payables for invoices (Ex: Electricity)
  • Payment approvals
  • Payments and fund transfers
  • Supplier advance payments
  • Inventory Reconciliations
  • 3-Way Matching
  • Payment
  • Reporting


  • Inventory Reconciliations
  • Follow-up of costing variances
  • Reporting

Fixed Assets:

  • Creating, managing and depreciating assets
  • Inventory Reconciliations
  • Reporting

GL and Reporting:

  • Maintain charter of accounts
  • Maintain new cost and profit centers
  • Foreign currency balances
  • Manual allocations
  • Accrual process
  • Prepayments
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Inventory Reconciliations
  • Reporting

RPA impact on Infor M3

  • Reduction in overall cycle time by 90% for all finance related processes
  • Accuracy rate of 99%
  • Enabled the customer to operate 24*7, whilst the bots worked during holidays and early mornings
  • Freed up business users from repetitive work, resulting in happy people doing meaningful work
  • Increased customer satisfaction in direct relation to the automated finance processes – achieved a Net Promoter Score of 10 (customer delight)

Impact of the UiPath-based RPA solution on the Trade Spend process

The food and beverage manufacturer’s original trade spend process was a very complex and time-consuming activity. This end-to-end manual process has now been fully automated, resulting in significant manpower savings.

  • Accurately identifying the claims to be processed without manual intervention.
  • Fetching Claim Files by logging into different customer portals.
  • Extracting claim details from various PDF Claim Files with precision and accuracy.
  • Matching claim details with multiple reports and files to calculate processing amounts.
  • Identifying business and system exceptions with proper error-handling mechanisms.
  • Processing Claims in ERP Infor M3 system and generating extensive summary reports for decision-making.
  • Reducing the manual processing time of 150+ person-days per annum to zero.

Impact of the UiPath-based RPA solution on the Inventory Reconciliation process

  • Reduced reconciliation processing time from 3-4 hours to 10-20 minutes.
  • Enabled any user to perform reconciliation tasks without relying on experts.
  • Allowed the finance department to schedule and execute reconciliation tasks daily.
  • Eliminated the burden on the month-end process by early and frequent identification of inventory value discrepancies.
  • Reconciliation reports were shared with a set of recipients daily via email.
  • Once the inventory value discrepancies were corrected, a new reconciliation process for the current date was run using the UiPath Orchestrator.
  • The customer was able to upgrade M3 without disrupting business operations.

RPA relies on human user validation for verification. As such, integrating RPA with Artificial Intelligence (known as Intelligent Automation) to overcome the limitations of RPA such as its inability to process unstructured data. As finance teams work with a range of documents such as checks, receipts, emails and spreadsheets, they can leverage customized optical character recognition (OCR) to read the various formats and eliminate the manual entry of data from images of checks or receipts.

Parting Thoughts

Although competing technology objectives and cost concerns are likely to persist, especially amidst an economic downturn, finance chiefs can collaborate with the rest of the C-suite to drive automation at an enterprise level. Instead of looking at automation as something to be wary of, CFOs should consider it as an additional teammate in the finance department. In uncertain times, finance departments that leverage technologies to optimize and automate operations such as procurement, invoicing and payments, are better placed to react to external challenges. Investing in automation or other key technologies can not only help business leaders reduce costs, but it can also allow finance departments to operate more strategically. Apart from the cost benefits, automation also enables finance teams to collect data more swiftly and utilize this high-value data to move their businesses forward.