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Is Cost-Effective Automation On The Cards For Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises?

Is Cost-Effective Automation On The Cards For Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises?

Automation is key to operational efficiency

Digital automation can be a vital tool that can be leveraged by SMEs to increase productivity and save time

SMEs can seamlessly integrate RPA with their existing systems without necessitating new policies or web services

Automation is key to operational efficiency. Though many giant enterprises have been embracing automation for years now, the Indian small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, or at least a part of it, has been deliberating to make the transition.

It’s Time To Move Beyond Outdated Practices

Today’s SMEs deal with numerous parties in the distribution channel including suppliers, distributors, customers, financial institutions and organisations outside of the company. Continuing a beneficial relationship among the stakeholders while running the business efficiently is onerous when business processes are carried out manually. Technologies and practices that once helped SMEs grow might not be agile enough to combat the evolving needs of the growing business in an increasingly digitised world.

For example, in a manual approach to data entry, the employees spend countless hours repeatedly feeding voluminous data into the system. If the process is automated, not only do the employees break free from the mundanity but also can unleash their creative or problem-solving skills and contribute to value addition.

In the light of the pandemic, following paper-based processes means employees have to be physically present in the office. On the other hand, digitising every asset makes remote working feasible and also drives huge operational efficiency. Be it payroll processing or order processing, any process can be automated and across multiple departments.

Automation Is Crucial For SMEs

Digital automation can be a vital tool that can be leveraged by SMEs to increase productivity and save time. Let’s take a look at a reputed investment firm that benefited from digital automation. With 70–80% of the processes performed manually, the employees were getting lost in the paper trail. The business processes could not be improved owing to the lack of means to track performance metrics. After a thorough analysis of the process gaps and implementing a custom-built business process management (BPM) solution, the processes were automated resulting in increased efficiency.

The tool stored relevant data essential to analyse a process, thus paving the way for continued improvement. Within a year of adopting automation, the firm saw a 20% increase in productivity, saved 12,000 man-hours across departments, and successfully served more than 1,700 clients.

Adopting The Right Tool

While switching from manual processes to automation, companies should focus on picking the technology that is agile enough to suit the needs of their business. Simple, rule-based tasks and processes that include redundant operations can be meticulously streamlined with robotic process automation (RPA).

The software bots or digital workers work invisibly and accurately perform tasks round the clock. Since the bots can perform data collection throughout the process, the collected data can be analyzed to improve the workflow.

Benefits Of RPA

Though RPA was upscale during the nascent stages, it is no longer elusive for SMEs. A few factors that make RPA ideal for SMEs are that it is affordable. Microsoft has adopted a low-cost approach to RPA that makes the technology a bargain. As with any technology, there is an initial cost to RPA as well, but the benefits overweigh the initial cost.

After thoroughly analyzing existing processes, business personnel can choose an optimal workflow (rule-based, high-volume, and repetitive task) and start by automating that. By automating the right process, SMEs can witness an increased return on investment in just a few months of automation.

RPA is easy to implement. SMEs can seamlessly integrate RPA with their existing systems without necessitating new policies or web services. Since workflows in SMEs can be simpler than large organizations, automating them can also be straightforward. The software bots avoid costly mistakes, thereby cutting down costs. They also reduce the operating costs and depending on the workflow, improve customer experience.

Take It Up A Notch With Hyperautomation

SMEs that are already utilizing automation tools should take it a step further and focus on achieving hyperautomation. Hyperautomation refers to combining technologies—like RPA, intelligent business management software (iBPMs), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), optical character recognition (OCR), and advanced analytics—to amplify human capabilities. Several companies in the IT space, like Vuram, leverage the power of such tech stack in enabling their clients to achieve hyperautomation.

By using a combination of technologies, hyperautomation cuts through the limitations faced by a single technology, such as RPA or BPM, and focuses on achieving end-to-end automation at scale. The toolkit makes everything from automating rote tasks to advanced analytics possible. It also reduces operational costs and automates processes resulting in increased capacity, accurate insights, greater compliance, reduced risks, greater productivity and increased team collaboration.

SMEs must start thinking beyond meeting the bare minimum to run their operations. In this automation era, SMEs must be ready to adopt the ever-evolving landscape of the digital age. Instead of relying on obsolete approaches to managing a business, SMEs geared towards growth must adopt such automation tools.

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.