We investigate the implementation of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software in public accounting by interviewing RPA leaders at Big 4 firms. RPA software automates the input, processing, and output of data to streamline repetitive, mundane tasks. Many of our findings are unique to accounting. For instance, participants report tax services are furthest along in RPA adoption, followed by advisory and assurance services. Furthermore, RPA has not impacted fees, but there is concern that clients may desire fee reductions due to decreased employee hours. Finally, unlike other technology implementations, RPA adoption is driven primarily by lower-level employees. Similar to other domains, our results indicate massive efficiency and effectiveness gains from RPA implementation. Also, interviewees do not expect reduced head count to result from RPA use. This study is the first to discuss the benefits, opportunities, and challenges to implementing RPA in accounting and serves as a catalyst for future research.

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