In the COVID-era, many companies are looking to save money right now, not after a long investigation or consultation exercise. The promise of quick wins puts robotic process automation (RPA) high on the agenda in many board and meeting rooms. And there are several areas where it can deliver fast savings (up to 37% in some examples), while being easy to implement.
Even for a quick win, the business needs to take time to understand the benefits and limitations of RPA to avoid a costly failure that interrupts business operations. They should also ensure the workforce understands the benefits and impact of any change to their roles. With those elements in place, here are five quick wins that many types of business can use to reduce costs, while speeding up processes and driving further innovation.
1. Travel and expense management
A long-time bugbear of many businesses, RPA can help get a handle on unwieldy travel and expense processes (the 2nd most troublesome cost to control in many businesses according to Forrester). RPA can create a rules-based approach to expenses from emails, scanned receipts or other forms.
RPA can then automatically approve valid claims, while highlighting expensive or outlying issues to staff. This can be ideal if your business lacks a dedicated finance or expenses role, and speeds up the approvals process in most cases. It saves money as the business doesn’t need a dedicated expenses tools, saves billable time for accountants and the rules can easily be updated as the business grows. It also reduces the risk of fraud and makes it more identifiable.
2. Reducing operational costs
Lots of IT services are costly or take a long time to implement. RPA can reduce the IT overheads and save costs at the operational level. Wherever there’s a workflow in the business, a quick evaluation can tell if it’s suitable for automation and what the savings - in time, direct cost or other effort - will be. Identifying the highest-cost savers can prioritize what the business should apply RPA to.
3. Reducing the wage bill
Automation doesn’t necessarily mean redundancies, with RPA helping many workers focus on key tasks, but it can reduce the wage bill spent on simple tasks that automation can handle faster, working 24/7 if needed and deploying your personnel resources elsewhere or upskilling them to add more value to the business.
If a company does need to reduce headcount, then RPA is ideal at performing repetitive and simple tasks within the office, allowing the business to use the savings on keeping the operations going, or look forward by hiring more useful, creative or better-performing people who can add value and other benefits to the business.
4. Bring offshored tasks back in the office
Many companies spend sizeable amounts on offshoring repetitive or low-value tasks. That made economic sense in the good times, but the trend to re-shore and in-house those tasks has grown in the cloud/data era and the shrinking gap in labor costs.
Many of those tasks can be performed by RPA such as simple customer service interactions, filing, data entry and accounts tasks. Cutting or eliminating the outsourcing bill with a low-cost RPA solution also keeps valuable company data within the business.
5. Simplifying accounting
While your business might not be that large, the savings can be proportionally just as valuable by reducing the amount of repetitive work that accountants and finance staff have to do.
From accounts payable to reconciling, there are some practical use-cases and examples that demonstrate how easy it can be. With cost savings, error reduction and quicker turnaround, an RPA in finance or accounting can deliver great value in many ways, and act as the base for further development of RPA across the business.
Especially in the modern evolution of intelligent automation, RPA offers a lot more than just cost-cutting opportunities. It can act as a sharp scalpel in delivering a solution that is proven to work, easy to deliver and can help all types and sizes of business.
Beyond the cost-savings, business leaders can look at the benefits of improving worker productivity, giving them more valuable work to do and thus improving morale. RPA can also act as the catalyst for digital transformation within the business, creating smarter workflows and processes that get the best of both human and data resources.