7 Uses of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for SMBs
Robotic process automation, or RPA, has gone from strength to strength in the last few years.
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These figures are constantly being revised, with RPA’s rapid adoption among SMBs surpassing most expectations—the market wasn’t expected to hit $2.5 billion until 2021.
This is largely being driven by the extensive adoption that we’re seeing among SMBs, who have seen the costs for automation technology fall significantly the last few years.
This, combined with a growing need for organizations to invest in new technologies that will improve their operations, has led to a steep rise in the market.
In 2020, 78% of organizations in a Deloitte survey had already implemented RPA and 16% plan to do so in the next three years.
But, what are modern businesses using RPA automation to achieve? What benefits can it bring and why does a modern business need it?
Seven of the most common areas in which SMBs use RPA are:
- Customer service
- Invoice processing
- Boosting productivity
- Employee onboarding
- Storing information
Let’s dive deeper into the ways that SMBs are utilizing RPA to improve their processes to provide an actionable answer to this very question.
1. Customer Service
RPA changes how businesses can deal with their customers. Namely, it makes ticket resolution significantly easier and faster.
A common example of this is using RPA for automation of customer interactions.
90% of employees are burdened with menial tasks which can be easily automated, which essentially translates to a lot of lost time and money
Rather than having an employee manually go through the timely process of seeking information for customers on their own, businesses are more frequently using RPA to automate this process.
Companies use RPA to automate every step of validating the data associated with a customer’s profile and integrates the data sets necessary, removing the need for a human worker to switch between applications.
Customer service RPA in action
A company is receiving a stream of complaints, but until now has been dealing with them manually, one at a time, with a human agent.
They install an RPA bot, which is programmed to sort and process the information gathered from the complaints into determined categories.
If complaints fall into categories that have pre-determined courses of action, those actions can then be undertaken by the bot.
These are all actions that would otherwise be performed by a human, but RPA allows for quicker resolution.
2. Invoice Processing
Financial processes are crucially important to the everyday functions of any company.
Invoices can be difficult be process. When dealt with manually, people can expect to deal with file formats that are disparate, awkward email attachments to deal with—these routine tasks take up a lot of time and energy.
While larger enterprises have already been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into RPA and automation strategies for a number of years now, many SMBs have had to wait patiently for the technology to become an affordable and viable option
An automated RPA bot can help by recognizing files and dissecting data from them without any human input.
Invoicing would be considered a prime candidate for automation. This is because invoicing by it’s nature is a rules-based process; it’s simply reporting a state of affairs to the customer, which makes it a perfect job for an unattended RPA bot.
Invoice RPA in action
The way it works is that a bot is programmed to check on a particular folder. When an invoice file is put into the folder, the bot is alerted, and proceeds to read and document all the relevant necessary information and disseminate it to where it needs to go.
This vastly reduces the time it takes for a customer to receive the information they need, improving their satisfaction. It also removes the necessity for an employee to spend their day performing invoicing tasks that are demonstrably automatable.
3. Boost Productivity
When you’re employing a specialist who excels in their field, and they’re having to spend hours on end inputting or gathering data, that is a waste of your money and their time.
The principal advantage of automation with RPA is that you’re effectively hiring another employee to do that job at a small fraction of the price.
These bots never have to take a break, never make a mistake, and work 24/7.
The effect this has on human workers is substantial.
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Newly freed up from manual, monotonous tasks, employees can now spend their time doing a job that needs their specialized skillset.
In a Deloitte survey, they found that 86% of respondents agreed that RPA improved productivity within their workplaces
There is also the additional advantage of making your employees happier and improving their job satisfaction. No one wants to spend their time doing manual data entry, especially not when automation alternatives are readily available.
In these instances, RPA really pays for itself by removing the labor costs of paying an employee to do a task that can be automated, while also giving you the opportunity to redistribute that worker and allowing them to perform a task that needs them more.
4. Employee Onboarding
Onboarding is often littered with administrative tasks that need completing—often mundane and repetitive.
RPA can be used to automatically generate and send offers and trigger an automated workflow when the employee’s account is created.
As most business owners will know, paper is expensive and wasteful.
Decision makers are increasingly keen to implement RPA in their organizations, with up to 40% of larger enterprises adopting some kind of RPA software by next year, up from 10% in 2018
RPA can also be used to reduce the amount of paperwork you process, by having an electronic capture system that removes the need to create paper copies of documents by receiving and dealing with them digitally.
Of course, you’ll additionally make your HR team a lot happier and reduce the time it takes to onboard employees by as much as ten times.
Most HR employees understand how tedious and time-consuming payroll processing can be.
Bots can be used extensively to help your payroll team by standardizing your processes.
Instead of studiously looking over spreadsheets and writing out checks by hand, get a system that does it for you.
An automated payroll can be designed to do a large swathe of payments, like salaries, overtime, commissions, bonuses, raises, wage deductions, and expenses.
Your HR staff will be better served with an automation system to help them so they can deal with tasks that need them.
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79% of the respondents in an HR survey about payroll indicate that they are not familiar with RPA, or RPA is not part of their current strategy.
Payroll RPA in action
RPA can be used for a variety of payroll-related purposes.
Attendance management, which can automatically track employee hours and adjust earnings accordingly with no human input necessary.
It’s estimated that a company of 50 employees can stand to save at least $20,000 a year by implementing RPA for their time and attendance systems.
In addition to this, you have automated payroll administration, processing, deductions, and more.
Many of these processes are considered low-hanging fruit—in other words, common, automatable processes in a workflow which can be resolved relatively easy and the benefits of which are realized quickly by the business.
6. Storing Information
Big data is a huge aspect of modern business.
SMBs preside over more data now than ever before, and the volume of data is growing exponentially.
Because of this, being able to effectively sort through your mountains of data is vital.
RPA is invaluable to organizations because it can sift through large amounts of data tirelessly, with no errors, and around-the-clock.
This is where RPA is at its best—it can automate and streamline the process that would take a human a lot longer, allowing them to do something that needs a human touch.
Automation like this is most successful in situations where the task is predictable and manual, as bots can be specifically assigned to do that one simple task.
As the amount of data within SMBs increases over time, which it will, businesses will need to utilize methods such as RPA which will help organize this influx of information and store it in a central repository quickly and without the chance for error that is common with humans.
Data governance is a key challenge that businesses want to solve, with 80% of data analytics and big data leaders in a survey responding that it was very important to them.
This use case for the exchange of data is also useful for the internal IT department, as RPA can help in improving the monitoring of network devices.
For example, for a business with a large amount of remote workers—a common occurrence today—process automation will feed and store relevant information and flag any concerns that IT should be made aware of.
This makes troubleshooting for tens, sometimes hundreds of devices, a much more simple and effective task than previously possible. RPA use among mobile device management (MDM) solutions can help enormously where batch processing is necessary for large data sets.
Removing the human element from data gathering is also important when it comes to providing you with data analytics and insights.
The amount of data in business provides great opportunities for valuable insights for what can be improved within your processes.
For decision makers, quality data is an important tool. Unfortunately, because of human error, these business leaders can have to deal with data that is of poor quality.
With RPA, not only can they tirelessly go through great amounts of data, but they can be programmed to spot information that is useful to humans.
Bots excel at this, and it ensures that the data you have is high quality and defined by the rules that you yourself set—meaning you only get exactly what you need.
So, as far as trawling large data sets goes, RPA is completely unparalleled in performing these tasks.
And this is no small thing either—companies rely on data more now than they ever have done, whether it’s for market research or assessing the performance of their employees.
- RPA automation software has a variety of uses for small and midsize businesses.
- The market for RPA has risen significantly over the last five years, driven by more affordable costs.
- Benefits are multifaceted, with RPA improving efficiency and productivity by streamlining manual tasks and making more efficient use of the workforce.
Robotic process automation helps companies achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in their industry. Through leveraging the tools available, which increase staff productivity and decrease costs—companies can enjoy higher operating capacity while delivering superior customer experience.
RPA is just one aspect of digital transformation which is changing the way small businesses operate in today’s constantly evolving landscape. To learn more about how you can modernize your organization, check out our Robotic Process Automation offering.