Sink or Swim: Why SMEs need Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in order to remain competitive

Written by: Samantha Wolhuter

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We know that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the fastest-growing technologies for enterprise businesses in the world. The world’s major multinational companies have already adopted RPA to improve productivity and overall efficiency, as well as to save on costs. When RPA was still in its infancy it was an expensive technology to incorporate into a business, which meant only major players were able to get in on the action. But today RPA is no longer only available to large Enterprises.

RPA technology is relatively simple to implement into an SME and requires very little to no infrastructure or application re-architecture. By automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks traditionally associated with back-end office functions, SMEs can now improve productivity to gain a competitive advantage. With menial tasks being automated with improved accuracy and efficiency, staff are now free to focus on growing the business and improving customer service.

At this stage some SMEs perhaps still consider RPA to be an enterprise technology, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The key is the early adoption of this technology in order to gain the upper hand on the competition. As Daniel Dines, CEO of UiPath puts it:

SME owners and employees need to be able to do more with less and automating repetitive, rules-based tasks is the perfect way to achieve this, allowing smaller firms to punch above their weight”.

Daniel Dines, CEO of UiPath.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why you might need RPA if you own a small to medium-sized enterprise:

1. Boost in performance

RPA can be used as a highly effective tool with many back-end office rules-based repetitive tasks. Accounts payable, booking, credit checks and salary processing, tax reports and time-consuming audits are just a few areas where RPA can save time and money. We’ve already written about how RPA is disrupting HR for good, making recruiting, onboarding, staff training and KPIs way more efficient and accurate.

The best part about implementing RPA ‘robot assistants’ is that they work around the clock, 24/7. This frees up a large amount of time and allows staff to engage more with customers in a meaningful way. It also affords staff the opportunity to turn more of their attention to high-level operations where the human-centric approach is still king.

2. Human error is a thing of the past with RPA

A major draw to RPA technology is the dependability of accuracy. Any rules-based task can now be fed into RPA’s machine learning capabilities and results can be measured and charted with precise accuracy. This removes the unfortunate yet often prevalent issues which arise from human error in the workplace. A misplaced comma or decimal point can spell disaster for a business, which then has to play catch up to resolve the issue while trying to not run at a loss.

RPA provides greater accuracy and compliance of data by removing the possibility of human error so data is more secure. Highly sensitive and detail-oriented tasks such as salary payouts, leave accrual and tax deductibles can also be handled quickly and error-free with RPA — all the system needs is for a human to set the rules, monitor performance and translate the results.

3. Predictably predictable

With humans, being predictable is often viewed as boring. But in many instances, we value predictability — think stock markets, life insurance and tax deductibles. Yet in a business setting, predictability is crucial when you want to chart and forecast progress in order to plan ahead. This is where RPA can be a highly valuable asset to any business — from enterprise right through to SMEs. RPA can be utilised to automate forecasting and planning tasks. RPA can track, store and analyse a business’s data in real time and begin to predict areas of growth and success and also areas for improvement. It allows for a business to get an analysed data report every morning (or each week/month) in order for management to chart the course of their business in real time.

4. RPA boots employee satisfaction

As RPA is able to automate so many tasks traditionally performed by multiple employees in any department, it frees up time for employees to focus on more meaningful tasks. Take HR for example: before RPA, HR employees would spend most of their day recruiting new staff, which is a time-consuming endeavour. Contacting recruitment agencies, viewing resumes, selecting who makes the cut to come in for an interview, managing the interview, further selecting who should return for a second interview, etc.

With RPA, HR professionals can stipulate the guidelines of criteria of who they are looking for and RPA is able to sift through resumes and supporting documentation to get to only the ones which will be required to come in for an in-person interview. So much of the process can be handled by RPA leaving HR professionals more time to focus on the ‘human’ aspect of HR: onboarding new employees, attending to and resolving employee issues, the list goes on. With an HR department now fully invested in their employees while the menial HR tasks are handled by RPA, a positive working environment is created where staff feel they are taken care of individually. Boosting their morale and overall performance.

5. No need for major IT outsourcing

SMEs don’t have the budget for outsourcing hands-on IT support like enterprise companies do. But they will inevitably encounter the same IT-related issues and with a fraction of the budget of enterprise, will have to make do with what they can afford. This obviously halts productivity and leaks money which could be better utilised in other departments. SMEs can benefit from RPA technology assisting them with IT-related issues.

Chatbots are now able to assist with the basic setup of a company website, can sort through and analyse data and even regulate traffic on a business’s server — these are but a few aspects which are traditionally handled by internal or outsourced IT departments. With RPA an SME can save money spent on IT outsourcing and only pay for what is needed over-and-above what is handled by RPA.

RPA technology has the power to transform the way we do business. As a result, it has begun to evolve how we work in conjunction with this technology. RPA isn’t here to take people’s jobs, it is here to assist and improve our productivity. There is no replacement for human judgement and emotional intelligence and so humans will always be needed to add the un-automatable cognitive spirit we possess.

The world’s largest, most successful enterprise businesses have acknowledged the dramatic input RPA is able to offer their productivity, and now SMEs are able to get a piece of the pie. If SMEs don’t embrace this technology and reap the rewards of efficiency and improved productivity they will soon become inadequate and irrelevant.

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Samantha Wolhuter
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Samantha Wolhuter
Sam is in charge of writing a big portion of WeAreBrain’s creative content. She is a digital nomad always on the go, inspiring us with her words from some of the world's most beautiful locations.
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