RPA for SMEs

Organizations are increasingly automating business processes through software automation. Software automation has been simplified and made more accessible to larger populations of businesses through Robotic Process Automation (RPA). A breakthrough in technology, RPA is used to automate rules-based business processes that entail routine tasks, structured data and deterministic outcomes. Organizations report the benefits in terms of costs, speed and error reduction leading to higher ROIs, precisely explaining the popularity of RPA.

At its infancy, RPA was expensive and hence really the technology for larger organizations. However, just as any other technology takes off, RPA has become more and more affordable over time and has broken its barriers to entry into the Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). While SMEs might be constrained in terms of resources and funds, their flexibility to adopt new technology quickly makes them a better candidate for RPA. According to PwC White Paper, Organize your Future with Robotic Process Automation, “Besides the cost and efficiency advantages, a couple of RPA’s greatest benefits are often overlooked: its ease of deployment and the speed and agility it confers on the enterprise”. SMEs tend to take advantage of RPA through lower costs of implementation alongside their agility to adapt swiftly and hence realize the timely benefits of automation. One can argue that SMEs have a competitive advantage in implementing RPA solutions with negligible delays due to size, complexity and cumbersome administrative procedures faced by larger organizations.

RPA enables businesses to mimic a variety of repetitive tasks that are otherwise carried out by humans in an organization. RPA releases human workforce from repetitive and error prone tasks to be more creative and engage in cognitive problem solving.  As SMEs depend upon a smaller workforce, RPA allows to leverage on a more productive team of employees. With RPA bots working around the clock, there is no downtime for the processes and hence better time and operations management. The implementation and migration to RPA is straightforward as RPA tools interact easily with existing infrastructures, leading to integration with legacy systems completely trouble-free.

RPA tools are usually based on Graphic User Interface (GUI) that connects applications and tasks. This kind of user interface again favors SMEs as users access various functions by single clicks and/or drag-and-drop options with no programming requirements. GUI allows easy switch between automatic and manual modes, transparent bot actions and convenient diagnostics. Since these actions do not require any programming and automation can be carried out by users without involvement of IT, SMEs do not require on-premise IT teams.

SMEs can choose, from the RPA suite, not only what and when to automate but also, how to automate. SMEs can choose a service model i.e., Robotic Process Automation as a Service (RPAaaS) that further slashes the modifications required to current business systems. RPAaaS is a cloud-based subscription solution that uses artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to help automate vital tasks over the internet. The SMEs enjoy lower initial infrastructure costs and other costs of implementation, lower liabilities and easier exit options. In addition, the automation selection options are flexible and driven by the customer; and implementation is agile and can be managed in multiple phases. Using web-based solutions, SMEs do not need an IT team to handle on-premise hardware and software. For processes where data discretion or regulatory compliances are pertinent, bots can be made to work locally. This hybrid solution provides extra layer of safety and flexibility given that the bots need to be developed only once for both cloud and local applications. Hence, with a hybrid RPA, most organizational issues are resolved!

To sum up, SMEs stand to benefit greatly from RPA. SMEs find it more costly to have their small workforce do less meaningful and more mundane tasks. Through RPA, SMEs can get their employees do more meaningful jobs more productively. In the age of competition, SMEs can stay on top by using efficient workflows and effective systems leading to higher ROIs that come through both efficiency and resilience.