In the quest for intelligent automation and digital transformation for both big and small businesses, some terms might begin to sound like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Terms like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, machine learning, and cognitive automation are all things you have probably heard thrown around by suave marketing execs.
As a small business owner who would like to remain competitive in today’s tech-savvy world, these are all terms with which you need to be familiar. While they might all sound the same to some extent, they all have important distinctions, and each one can serve your business in its own unique way.
The best part is that most of these technologies complement one another, and they can all work in sync to help improve productivity, reduce the amount of manual labor necessary, and cut costs.
Let’s look at RPA for small businesses and what it means for small organizations like yours.
Table of Contents
- What’s RPA for Small Business?
- Does Your Business Need an RPA Solution?
- The Benefits of RPA Technology for Small Businesses
What’s RPA for Small Business?
RPA stands for “Robotic Process Automation.” Robotic process automation solutions are systems that allow you to automate and accelerate the execution of repetitive administrative tasks so that you can free up employees for higher-value work.
Look at it this way: every business has some necessary yet repetitive, time-consuming tasks. These are often administrative tasks, such as:
- Invoice processing
- Inventory reporting
- Customer service
- Contact management
See more RPA use cases here.
All of these tasks have to be done if the business is to run smoothly. However, they are often so tedious that they take the necessary manpower away from higher-value tasks such as RND, marketing, and actual business management.
With the right robotic process automation solutions, you are not only capable of building your own software bots but also capable of automating and speeding up these repetitive tasks by a factor of up to 10.
RPA not only allows you to get these tasks done faster and with less manpower, but it also minimizes, if not completely eliminates, errors in the process.
RPA technology lets you build your own bots through a simple “drag and drop” automation process. Once these bots have been properly configured, you can program them to:
- Find and categorize specified data
- Open files
- Fill out forms
- Transfer data from one application to another
All this technically makes RPA bots your digital employees tasked with executing the mundane, repetitive tasks important to your business and quite time-consuming.
Does Your Business Need an RPA Solution?
While the answer is almost always a definitive yes in every case, some factors must be considered before you decide to try and buy into an RPA solution for your business. Here are some of the key questions you must ask yourself:
- Are there repetitive business processes that take up a lot of time?
- How many man-hours are typically required to complete these repetitive tasks?
- How much do these tasks cost your small business in terms of maintenance and workforce?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you will quickly see that your business might benefit from an RPA solution. One of the biggest barriers to entry is often the initial cost implications of getting an RPA solution.
This problem can be solved by simply trying out small RPA solutions first instead of investing in an entire business management system that might eventually go to waste because your business didn’t need all that the system had to offer in the first place.
The Benefits of RPA Technology for Small Businesses
On the face of it, small business owners might think that RPA implementation is costly. This might have been true a few years back. However, RPA software is now readily available and quite cost-effective, thanks to cloud computing. Besides, the ROI on RPA implementation alone should be enough to justify the purchase.
Here are some RPA automation statistics that should help you see the importance of employing RPA bots in your small business:
- Employees typically spend about 10-15% of their working hours on mundane tasks
- IT departments spend about 30% of their working hours dealing with non-priority tasks
This is a wastage that RPA automation could eliminate. By adopting RPA solutions, small businesses have the chance to save money and improve compliance, productivity, and expectations.
Here are some of the most notable benefits of RPA automation for small businesses.
There are very few processes that are quite as repetitive as the invoicing process. It’s also quite prone to human error. Manually invoicing clients could take days. With the right RPA tool, such as “Accounts Payable Automation,” you can easily streamline this process and eliminate human error.
You will get accurate information compliant with all the financial regulations, and you will also get it fast. Furthermore, your invoice formats will be synchronized, making your small business look professional.
All of this saves you time and manpower, but it also helps increase the level of trust your b2b partners have in your business, which ultimately leads to growth.
The Employee Onboarding Process
No matter how extensively small business owners employ artificial intelligence and cognitive computing in their organizations, there’s no substitute for human resources. These systems can only work hand in hand with the right kind of creative employees. With the right RPA automation solution and the ideal human employee, you can have the best of both worlds.
As exciting as it is to welcome new and creative employees into your organization, the process is lengthy, tedious, and prone to human error. RPA automation technology can assist you with the majority of repetitive tasks, such as:
- Storing the necessary employee information in the right databases
- Creating the necessary employee accounts
- Creating the necessary tools for the employees
This can be completely automated, reducing both the necessary paperwork and possible human error incidents.
Analytics and Data Storage
Big data is everywhere nowadays, and it’s only getting bigger. The problem with big data is that it’s mostly unstructured. This means that any company that doesn’t have the resources and expertise to take advantage of the available data will miss out on massive opportunities for business growth.
While sorting, reading, and making good use of big data is one thing, storing that data is another. RPA robots can be programmed to make sense of both structured and unstructured data formats, giving you a highly competitive edge.
With the right RPA process and machine learning, this data can be processed fast and even in real-time. This, in turn, could help you pick out data patterns that will allow you to analyze customer behavior and take quick action to acquire new customers and improve customer satisfaction.
RPA bots can be programmed to specialize in various fields. In today’s digital world, cyber security is one of the most important areas of potential vulnerability for any business, be it a small or large enterprise. You can strengthen your cyber security through cognitive automation and RPA.
Payroll and Financial Services
Every company with employees needs a payroll system. Depending on the size of your small business, you might need other financial services such as pensions and so forth. RPA software can help automate your payroll processing, freeing up time for more high-priority tasks.
The right system can not only assign paychecks, but it can also calculate bonuses and deductions without the risk of human error.
Finally, one of the biggest advantages that small businesses have over large enterprises as far as RPA adoption is concerned is that small business operations are still not as complex.
This means that you can start your business process automation with the right RPA bots or RPA tools and automate everything right at the beginning. This allows you to effectively strategize and accelerate your business growth.
The best part about RPA for small business is that they are “low-code” processes. This means that even business owners who don’t have extensive know-how or experience with computers can easily configure an RPA bot to their advantage.
They are not only effective in helping to streamline your business processes as well as minimize human error, but they are also quite easy to implement.