The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a profound effect on the global economy. Uncertainty is probably the leading reason for the difficulty of handling the pandemic effectively. The dynamics of the outbreak require concerted action, and crisis specific flexible plans.
The minimisation of business disruption, while taking all the necessary precautions to ensure population health, is the overarching, global objective. To begin with, businesses are to acknowledge the stringent need to develop policies that foster remote working during the crisis. Supply chain distributions must be proactively mitigated (and not merely reacted to), despite the novelty and the inherent unpredictability of the situation.
Last but certainly not least, in the context of the shift to remote working, businesses have been forced to consider the acceleration of digital transformation by means of digital upskilling. Precisely for this reason, it makes sense to discuss in concrete terms how companies can use robotic process automation to handle business crises.
Let’s look at some of the things we could learn from past recessions. According to the financial analysis of Harvard Business Review about the effects of the 2008 economic crisis, based on a huge dataset of 4.700 public companies, some of those companies can indeed talk about some silver lining of these difficult times.
Some of them were able to outperform the rivals in their industry sectors by 10% in terms of sales and profits growth. What did they do to come out of the crisis so prosperous? The focus on operational efficiency, i.e., performing the processes better, faster, and cheaper, as a means to reduce costs — the typical financial approach to recession — appears to have the highest likelihood, 37%, of placing businesses on the winners’ side.
Currently, the benefits of RPA have become tantamount to operational efficiency. So companies may use RPA to handle crises because the functional profile of automation can be stated in terms of better, faster, and cheaper processes.
This perspective is well aligned with what the 77 Australian decision-makers that responded to a recent study by iTWire, on their view about the top benefits of robotic process automation. Almost two thirds of them said that RPA allows for better work production, because it enables people to work more efficiently, effectively, and accurately.
How to better handle crises with robotic process automation (RPA)
The gains of working side by side with software robots justify why industry leaders use RPA to their benefit, and also why the forecast is that they will resort to it more and more, reaching a market value of 12$ billion by 2023.
However, especially in a context of economic recession, it is worth looking beyond the financial benefits, and acknowledging the positive influence of software robots on productivity, employees’ job satisfaction, and overall operational efficiency. During times when fears of losing jobs are on the rise, it is crucial to emphasize the human-centred facet of RPA adoption and show the employees that your strategies do take into account the future of work.
We invite you to read more here about how industry leaders leverage RPA to their advantage since that could stimulate you to consider how to use robotic process automation to handle business crises.
Among the empirically evidenced best operational practices for making the most out of software robot deployment, we wish to emphasize the need to start from answering why you need automation, for which processes, and in which departments. A goal-oriented choice of the tasks that are likely to yield most favourable outcomes when automated paves the way for successful outcomes.
Once you identify manual, repetitive, rule based processes with measurable savings, as well as the pitfalls of manual processing that can be sidestepped with automation, you are one step closer to a significant effect on accelerating and amplifying the return on investment. If you are interested and wish to be informed when we publish a full article on operational best practices for implementing RPA, please subscribe to our newsletter below.
Let’s now look at some concrete ways in which RPA makes businesses better prepared to deal with the economic effects of the pandemic, and to keep your business running in pole position.
1. A more direct path towards your business goals
The routine, high volume, stable processes that you can pass onto software robots are usually also dull and time-consuming, draining your employees’ resources without adding anything to their job satisfaction (on the contrary). Consider copying and pasting clients’ data in between Excel Spreadsheets, and you’ll know for sure what we are talking about. The bots can do everything more efficiently, i.e., faster and error-free.