When you think of the phrase “business automation,” images may loom large of robots having a chat near your office watercooler. In reality, it’s much simpler than that. Business automation is helping organizations of all sizes get more done, improving employee bandwidth and helping save money.
For many small business owners, embracing automation can seem out of reach. However, small businesses are increasingly turning to robotic process automation (RPA) to keep headcount down, manage costs and introduce new capabilities without hiring additional staff members.
Here’s a closer look at the benefits of robotic process automation, and the ripe opportunities for automation in the years ahead.
What Are the Benefits of Robotic Process Automation?
Incorporating RPA into your business starts with understanding what it is and how you can leverage it for productivity and cost savings. It can also save small business owners time. According to CIO, “RPA is an application of technology, governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes. Using RPA tools, a company can configure software, or a ‘robot,’ to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.”
In practice, RPA can be used for a wide range of applications, from simple tasks like responding to customer emails to deploying more complex reporting or daily operations activities. Robots or programming are used to execute tasks, with a focus on repetitive or daily tasks that take up staff time. Business automation is a cost-effective way to eliminate routine tasks so you and your team can focus on higher-value activities. RPA helps small businesses by:
- Automating lower-value routine processes, from auto-acknowledging emails to running data reports
- Increasing compliance and ensuring that key tasks are completed on schedule
- Reducing staff time spent on administrative tasks, and lowering overall staff costs
- Providing cost-effective ways to monitor systems, manage data and introduce new capabilities to a growing business
Automate the Customer Experience
An outstanding customer experience helps build your business and keeps customers coming back for more. RPA can be used to automate different areas of this experience. For example, one of the simplest applications is setting up automatic email responses to acknowledge incoming customer emails.
RPA programs can also offer more sophisticated customer service applications, such as powering chatbots to answer simple questions or directing customers toward the best resources for their needs. Business automation can also be used to streamline customer-facing operations, whether it’s notifying them of a shipment or ensuring that delivery aligns with contract terms. Even the smallest businesses need to offer timely, customized and personal support to their customers. By embracing business automation, you’re able to offer a smoother customer experience.
Monitor and Support IT Systems
Every business relies on technology. When your company uses multiple programs, servers and other forms of small business technology every day, however, staying online and performing at optimal levels can be time-consuming. With RPA, you can automate tasks that keep your IT running smoothly. For example, bots can let you know when your servers are experiencing a problem, your website goes offline, or your software programs go down.
Automating these tasks can give you the IT support needed to keep your business online while reducing the costs associated with ongoing IT staffing. Your IT dollars go further, allowing you to quickly address issues when they come up or invest in future improvements that drive business growth.
Keep Accounting Current for Better Cash Flow
Managing the finances of your growing company takes a lot of work. From overseeing payroll to monitoring when accounts payable are received, keeping an eye on these details can take significant time and staff hours away from higher-value activities. However, small businesses can’t afford to overlook these important details. With RPA, you can automate tasks such as filing invoices, overseeing payroll, tracking financial data, and running regular reports, helping you to keep your cash flow even through the ebbs and flows.
As your business grows and your needs evolve, RPA can provide important tools to help you get more done. While you’re building your business, it might seem like RPA is out of reach. However, it’s possible to start small with manageable investments in areas such as your customer experience, accounting and IT. Small business loans can help to front the cost of automating these systems without getting your working capital involved. You may not be networking with robots at your next work function just yet, but tapping into the benefits of RPA can open up new opportunities for future growth.