A new era of automation is underway. Banks, insurers, and businesses across virtually all industries are starting to utilize automation technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), where software automates data-oriented, digital tasks.
In doing so, companies better utilize resources, both by being able to reduce staffing needs for specific tasks and by freeing up employees’ time to focus on more complex activities that create more value. While the use cases and benefits are well established, especially at large companies, many business owners are unsure whether this is the right time to invest in RPA for small and medium-size businesses because of concerns such as cost and complexity.
To help determine whether it’s the right time for your company to invest in automation, consider the four questions below.
Ask Four Key Questions to Know if RPA is Right for Your Business
1. What is the potential impact on your business?
No matter how much buzz a new technology receives, if you don’t see how it can make an impact on your business, it may be better to wait. However, if you have team members engaging in repetitive, routine tasks, or if your employees are simply stretched for time, now may be a good time to invest in RPA. Doing so can not only improve operational efficiency but also deliver better service quality, improved employee experience, and more as employees can spend more time on creative, value-add tasks.
Over 70% of enterprise processes can be automated using software robots, according to Genpact, so there’s a good chance your company can find a way for RPA to make a significant impact.
2. How much does the technology cost?
As has been the case with TVs and computers, prices tend to come down over time as the technology matures. The same is true for RPA; costs are approximately one-fifth of what they were in 2017. If the cost of the technology fits within your budget, especially when you consider potential cost savings or additional revenue generated by freeing up employees’ time, then you may be in a good position to invest in automation.
With RPA, companies generally see a solid ROI within 6 to 18 months, so if you can identify areas where the technology will have a significant impact on your organization, it can be worth moving aggressively.
3. What is the complexity of implementation?
Another important factor to consider is the complexity of implementation. Some technologies require complete overhauls of systems and processes whereas others can easily be tested and adopted without disruption. The less complex the implementation, the arguably less risk there is to invest in the new technology.
RPA does require more involvement than a plug-and-play software like Slack, for example, but it doesn’t mean everything needs to change at once or be overly complex. If you can put together a plan for testing and scaling automation and identify the right implementation partner, then you may be in a good position to invest in this technology.
4. How mature is the technology?
As you evaluate whether technology can have a solid impact on your business, consider the maturity of the technology to help determine whether you’re getting caught up in hype or whether you actually see the potential benefits.
As HubSpot’s Scott Brinker points out in an article he wrote, the actual advancement of technology moves more in a diagonal line rather than in the ups and downs of the Gartner Hype Cycle. Try not to get too caught up in the highs and lows of expectations and instead focus on whether the maturity of the technology fits your business needs.
Regarding RPA, one could argue that it has been around for decades. Every time software was created to handle the management of data between two points, it was technically automation. The rise of the term RPA today is due largely to the fact that automation is no longer relegated to expensive development teams and massive projects. Instead, business professionals can leverage better tools to create automation across applications for tasks of any size. The technology is mature enough to handle almost anything you can throw at it, so it’s really the hype surrounding its simplicity that you need to be on guard against.
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Overall, the concept of RPA for small and medium-size businesses has proven itself successful in nearly every industry. If you can identify its potential impact on your business and can handle the cost and complexity of implementation, you’re likely in a good place to invest in automation today. You should also think about the maturity of RPA (or any technology you invest in), as having the opportunity to be an early adopter or fast follower could give you even more incentive to act quickly, provided you still meet the other criteria.