The Role of RPA Solutions in Tackling Covid-19 Challenges
- By Nishant Joshi
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent shocking waves across every business sector. Employees are working from home but are facing productivity challenges. Managers are finding it difficult to manage operations without seeing and hearing their teams in-person. Video conference has become part and parcel of everyday business operations, but reports suggest that they are not as effective as face-to-face meetings.
The hospitality industry has taken a massive toll as people aren't visiting restaurants and hotels. The retail sector has been functioning at half capacity as only a handful of people can visit brick and mortar stores at a particular time. The aviation sector is registering enormous losses as people are afraid of traveling. The once-booming construction sector has lost its shine as employees don't want to risk themselves to the deadly virus. The healthcare sector professionals are working day and night to carry out testing and slow down infection rates.
Robot Process Automation (RPA) has given a helping hand by managing back-end work such as automating test reports, backlogs, and controlling patients' flow. Companies are also employing RPA to handle their financial activities like assessing risk levels, comparing revenues and expenses, and setting up remote workstations.
The organizations that already have RPA will not face difficulties in transitioning to remote working. But traditional companies will encounter enormous challenges and may see a massive dip in productivity and efficiency.
The following are the 4 ways in which RPA solutions will help tackle COVID-19 challenges:
1. Conducting Business as Usual
Companies perform numerous activities daily. Most of them are essential for maintaining business continuity and can hamper the efficiency and lower the output. RPA brings the following advantages allowing companies to conduct their business as usual:
a. It handles back-office activities like collecting and maintaining essential customer information, form filling, data entry activities, sending timely reminders and notifications to customers, etc.
b. It helps establish and manage remote working networks that allow teams to collaborate without worrying about geographical restrictions.
c. It handles chatbots that collect customer information, stores them in a repository, and updates them regularly. It also answers trivial questions, thereby allowing its human counterparts to focus on issues that require human ingenuity.
d. It automates sales transactions by preparing sales receipts, income reports, and tax receipts and sharing them with customers.
e. It forms a long list of prospects and selects the best out of them according to predetermined parameters and attributes.
f. It collects and analyzes data to identify new markets and assists marketers to brainstorm effective strategies.
2. Increases productivity
For a business to survive and remain compliant with government rules, it has to follow specific mandatory procedures. From a compliance perspective, these functions are necessary. But they dampen employees' productivity as they get less time to focus on issues that require intelligence and creativity.
RPA provides an easy way out. It controls trivial functions such as form filling, collecting, storing, and sharing customer-centric information with authorized business stakeholders — frontline executives, C-suite executives, vendors, suppliers, distributors, etc. This function has two benefits. First, it destroys information silos, thereby enabling smooth disbursal of information and allowing the company to work as a cohesive unit. And second, it allows employees to attend to issues that require human ingenuity and intelligence.
Thus, employees take up challenging tasks that keep their morale high. They no longer have to do work that undermines their skills. RPA increases the employees' efficiency and multiplies their efforts significantly.
3. Creating a productive digital ecosystem
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to shut their doors and allow their employees to work from home. RPA plays a significant role in setting a productive digital ecosystem. The following 3 reasons explain in detail the benefits of RPA:
a. Employees can work from the comfort of their home without worrying about contracting the virus.
b. A study by Aritasker suggests that remote workers work 1.4 more days per month than their office counterparts.
c. Employees don't have to waste time commuting from home to office and back. They can spend this time with their families and nurture their hobbies. Reports suggest that employees who get to spend more time with their families outperform those that don't.
RPA supports the following remote working tools:
i. Video Conferencing tools: Video conferencing allows teams to conduct face-to-face meetings and perform brainstorming sessions from faraway places. The best examples of video conferencing tools are Skype, Zoom, etc.
ii. Collaborative tools: These tools allow teams to collaborate from remote places and work on crucial projects — writing or editing documents, spreadsheets, or presentations simultaneously. Examples include Google Docs, Word Online, etc.
iii. Document sharing tools: These web apps allow teams to share business-centric information instantly. Examples are Microsoft OneNote, Google Drive, etc. The files can be accessed and edited from anywhere.
4. Decreases operational costs
The pandemic has slowed economic activities globally. Profits are down and companies are relieving or furloughing their employees. Some are delaying or slashing their employees' salaries. The only way by which companies can save money is by cutting operational costs.
RPA plays a significant role in doing so. It can be integrated with ERP systems, such as Sage 300Cloud to automate trivial tasks, thereby increasing efficiency and eliminating human intervention. They can handle all business-critical functions — from finance and manufacturing to supply chain and operations. Also, with humans out of the equation, there is no possibility of human errors.
RPA can also be integrated with CRM, such as Sage CRM, to provide top-notch support service to customers.
Thus, companies can employ RPA to perform numerous trivial functions instead of wasting their human employees' effort. They can also avoid paying salaries for tasks that can be easily achieved by machines.