Embracing technology and the power of digital has been crucial for small businesses in weathering the storm of the pandemic and the changing way of working. The Federal Government’s recent budget mandate announcing tax deductions for small businesses investing in digital transformation has encouraged many to prepare for the ongoing digital revolution.

One of the key restraints that small businesses face is the lack of resources, and therefore hires are often made based on their ability to wear different hats on the job. This means that all employees have core functionalities and partake in ad hoc tasks, like manually generating reports or invoicing, to keep the business running. While this helps keep hiring costs low, employees do too many things and cannot focus on their core role.

As per the recent Global Office Workers survey by UiPath, 60% of Australian office workers said that they are considering resigning from their jobs in the next six months due to the increased amount of pressure. This is an alarming statistic for Australian businesses and by deploying an end-to-end automation solution within their business practices they can help fill the gaps in workforce and elevate employee experience.

Digital automation systems like RPA (Robotic Process Automation) don’t necessarily replace employees but rather they augment them. RPA can be used to perform tasks that would usually take several hours of manual work in much less time. The use of automation in business processes also reduces the scope for manual errors and makes the whole workforce more efficient. It also frees employees to perform more mentally stimulating tasks instead of keeping them busy with mundane and repetitive work. Since small businesses face the most pressure in terms of wages and maintaining budgets, automation helps maximise the output from both the staff and the technology.

Here are some ways your small business can benefit from digital automation:

Workforce efficiency

As stated above, employees in small business usually perform several tasks aside from their core tasks. The constantly shifting focus affects the output on both the manual, repetitive tasks often leading to poor quality of work overall and unsatisfied, overburdened employees. Automation shifts these repetitive tasks, freeing employees to perform their creative and strategic roles and improving output and productivity. This results in better employee engagement and retention with the organisation.

Additionally, digitising reduces hours of manual work, and the same or better results are achieved in less time, making the entire workforce (manual and digital) more efficient and the time to value much faster. It also removes the need for hiring staff across several departments, greatly reducing costs.

Leveraging data

A lot of the manual work in small businesses never gets reported correctly and might not help evaluate the inefficiencies in the existing processes. It leads to age-old inefficiencies and errors being repeated over a long time. With RPA combined with digital automation can help report a lot of data with its processes.  Frequent evaluation helps catch operational inaccuracies early on and improves process implementation, ensuring a seamless, error-free workflow across processes in the long run. B

Competitive edge

Many large organisations already have end to end automation systems in place, through which they can leverage the power of enhanced productivity. Small businesses lack this adoption and don’t have a level playing field with their competitors. In a market shaped by digital disruption, automation in small businesses can change the game by bringing levelling the playing field with their competitors while keeping control of their overall cost of the business.

The post-Covid-19 workplace looks very different from the one that existed before. Organisations have moved to hybrid or permanent work-from-home structures, and communication between employees and departments is much more scattered. The scope for errors in such a scenario is much greater, owing to lapses in communication. Automation can help businesses be more agile, efficient and profitable.  Digitisation comes with a cost, but if implemented correctly, it can save companies a lot of money in the long run. The key is to evaluate what processes can best benefit from automation and create an investment-adoption plan accordingly.

Luke Kelly is director of sales engineering at UiPath.