Intelligent automation can streamline compliance reporting for business

Daniel Pullen

By Daniel Pullen, Chief Automation Officer, CiGen

Every business is subject to some sort of regulatory compliance. That can cover everything from ensuring your business is following specific market participation rules, financial reporting obligations or sustainability requirements. Reporting requires the extraction, manipulation and analysis of data. That data needs to be presented in specific ways in order to fulfill those compliance obligations.

However, the challenge is that the information needed to meet your obligations is often spread across multiple business systems. Each reporting period that data needs to be extracted, reformatted and presented so that you satisfy the needs of the regulator or authority you’re reporting to. That can add up to many hours of effort each month with staff repeating the same processes each month over and over.

When you look at these processes, it’s apparent that many of the steps are the same each month, making them great candidates for intelligent automation.

Data extraction

The good thing about most types of compliance reporting is that the data you need to provide is well defined. For example, if you’re reporting on energy consumption and greenhouse emissions, you can look at operational data and sensors as well as billing data from your energy provider.

That data is stored and presented to you in the same way so, once you have designed a data extraction process, you should be able to repeat it without needing to ‘reinvent the wheel’ each reporting cycle. Intelligent automation, using tools like robotic process automation (RPA), can execute the data extraction and only require human intervention when a specific problem is identified. 

As well as making the extraction process faster you can run the process outside of normal office hours. So, when your staff are ready to work, they can deal with exceptions rather than boring data extractions.

Preparing reports

Extracting data is just the first step in managing your compliance reporting. Once you have the data, it’s time to convert it into the format required by the regulator. Again, the good news is that regulators and other authorities don’t often change their reporting formats.

Armed with the data you extracted, you can use intelligent automation to carry out any data transformations that are needed. For example, you may need to report on daily averages, cumulative totals, times when you exceeded or failed to reach specific goals or other actions required by the regulator. 

You can automate those actions and have automatic processes alert you when non-compliance is identified. This is important as you can investigate the issue thoroughly before the report is finalised and sent. For example, if your carbon emissions exceed your monthly target, you can review operations and add a note informing the regulator of the circumstances and what remedial action you’ve instigated to ensure the issue has already been managed.

The key is that intelligent automation frees your team so they can focus on dealing with exceptions rather than manipulating and trawling through data and focus on new ways to optimise performance.

Springboard from compliance to proactive monitoring

Compliance and regulatory reporting is important. It establishes that your organisation is achieving the minimum standards required by industry and market authorities. But compliance is just a starting point. Rather than simply ticking boxes to satisfy a regulator, reporting assists with knowing where to focus resources.

Compliance reporting gives you a point in time view of where you stand. However, when you automate the reporting process you can shift to proactive monitoring. If you extract the reporting data each day and identify anomalies, you can address them before they escalate and become significant issues.

Intelligent automation allows you to take complex regulatory reporting and repeat the process as often as you like – not just when you’re obligated. For example, if you have an obligation to report on greenhouse emissions, you can carry out the data extraction each day and highlight potential non-compliance well before the reporting deadline. This allows you to ensure there are no surprises when the report is due and can take prompt action.

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