Powering your business forward with robotic process automation
The coronavirus pandemic has changed our everyday life and it is hard to understand what this means for the future of business. From empowering staff members to work from home to developing new business models altogether, COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation and highlighted just how resilient Australian businesses really are. Even before the current crisis, businesses had visions for digital transformation and the impact of COVID-19 has now reinforced this trend.
A full economic recovery will take time and there are some important steps businesses can take as they rebound. Cost optimisation is hardly a new concept; small and medium business owners have always been cost-conscious. However, with the right technologies in place, reducing costs no longer has to come at the expense of something else.
The key to cost optimisation while supporting business growth and ongoing excellence is automation.
Robotic process automation: a revolution within reach
Robotic process automation (RPA) can automate any mundane task that your workers don’t enjoy. These are the tedious, mind-numbing, repetitive, and essential processes that must be done to keep your business running.
The robots, also known as digital workers, can be taught to obey business rules to execute tasks like processing invoices, responding to customer requests, managing transactions, and more. The digital workers follow the pre-set rules to create efficient workflows that only require human intervention if there is a situation that doesn’t fit within the rules.
Some RPA systems use machine learning so that the digital workers can learn from new situations and experience, using cognitive skills to see, understand, and act on new content. And, the digital workers can either work autonomously or be partnered with human workers to enhance the way they work, combining creativity and human judgement with the reliability and predictability of robots.
While this may sound like the kind of cutting-edge technology that’s only available to large enterprises with deep pockets, RPA is actually affordable and small to medium-sized organisations are well-positioned to enjoy the benefits. In fact, it can be the simplest first step in their digital transformation journey.
Cutting-edge RPA solutions don’t even require you to have any developer skills. You can quickly create workflows based on drag-and-drop functionality, letting you get up and running with automation quickly and easily.
Four key benefits of RPA
RPA delivers significant benefits to businesses, especially those looking to reduce costs and maximise the value their employees can provide. Here are four of the key benefits:
1. Lower costs
The cost of manual processing can be higher than you think. For example, the cost of processing a single invoice manually is more than US$11.50, and it takes longer than eight days, on average. You could reduce your invoice processing costs by five times and process invoices 2.5 times faster by automating the processes.
2. Work more efficiently
Manual processes can be incredibly time consuming. For example, cross-checking invoices with purchase orders, confirming amounts and checking that the items were received, sending the invoice to an approver for sign-off, then routing it for payment all takes chunks of time out of an employee’s day.
Digital workers can complete tasks 32 times faster than their human counterparts and can improve efficiency by 80 per cent. And, because they literally never need to take a break, they can continue their work 24/7, dramatically improving your productivity.
3. Free up staff to focus on higher-value work
When staff members are tied up doing manual work, they can’t use their higher-order skills to contribute to business growth and sustainability. During the recovery process, you’re going to want all hands on deck when it comes to working with customers, contributing to strategic planning, and making sure your business performs to a high standard.
Because RPA automates those tedious, repetitive tasks, staff members can let the digital workers get on with it while they focus on more engaging and creative work.
4. Reduce or even eliminate errors
Because digital workers always play according to the rules, the risk of errors can be reduced and even eliminated. Human workers can lose focus due to boredom and potentially make errors, whether it’s a typo here or mis-filing an invoice there. According to a whitepaper by IDC, human error costs organisations more than $62.4 million every year. But digital workers will never make typos or mis-file documents; they’ll complete the same task in the same way each and every time simply because that’s what they’re programmed to do. They’ll never get bored or tired. This means you can trust the digital workers to manage important documents like invoices.
How to get started
If you’re looking to power into a new way of working, reduce costs, improve staff engagement, and boost business performance, RPA is the ideal solution for you. It can help you compete more effectively and achieve success well into the future.
RPA doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can start by identifying the most painful or tedious processes in your business that your staff members would rather not have to do, then automate those. Once you’ve seen some runs on the board, you can start to expand automation further in your business. The return on investment (ROI) can usually be seen fairly quickly and RPA solutions often pay for themselves within the first year.
To find out why Konica Minolta is the ideal partner to help you implement RPA in your business, contact us today.
 Cohen, B. and Bartolini, A.: Ardent Partners’ Accounts Payable Metrics that Matter in 2019. Ardent Partners 2019