Business Process Automation has taken on a greater sense of urgency in today’s pandemic ravaged economy where business leaders are eager and often beleaguered to “do more with less.”
It’s astonishing what business process automation (BPA) technologies can do when applied to the right tasks. Just ask the IT leaders who have mixed a measure of automation into their business processes to infuse agility into their operations. They’ll tell you how they’ve transformed and modernized their processes to deliver both demonstrable RoI and strategic value to their enterprise. They’ll also tell you how business process automation has helped them leverage tomorrow’s trends while heading off today’s challenges, all while maximizing the utilization of their existing resources.
Business Process Automation has taken on a greater sense of urgency in today’s pandemic ravaged economy where business leaders are eager and often beleaguered to “do more with less.” In these troubled times when cost containment and the need for speed are the twin battle cries of organizations around the world, business process automation is fast emerging as a high priority strategy for them.
But we are not in the least suggesting that it’s a flavour of the month kind of technology practice. Far from it. It’s the mutual mandate from renowned CDOs, CIOs, CTOs, and CEOs. Business Process Automation promises to add some welcome velocity to the digital transformation and process efficiency efforts of enterprises. Small wonder then, business process automation and digital transformation, like warp and woof of a fabric, are woven in and out of the business strategy of a significantly large number of organizations today.
What is Business Process Automation?
Understanding BPA involves doing a deep dive into the application, implication, and opportunities it presents. So, let’s start by decoding it.
BPA is the use of technology to execute manual, mundane, repetitive, and recurring tasks or processes in a business. It can provide profound efficiencies for any organization by making processes more cost-effective, streamlined, error-proof, and transparent.
By automating processes and workflows, BPA frees up internal resources for higher-value tasks, thus improving productivity.
What kind of business tasks can be automated?
Business Process Automation is not limited to certain functions or departments. The following factors are a good indication that a certain process can be automated:
- Is the process repetitive and recurring?
- Does the process contain a high number of smaller tasks?
- Does the process span multiple stakeholders and departments?
- Is the process time-sensitive?
- Does the process include any need for compliance or audit checks?
- Does the process involve decision-making that can be addressed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML)?
- Does the process include tracking, monitoring, and alerting?
If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, there’s a very high chance the process can be automated. Automating these processes will not only help you reduce errors but also save costs and reduce turnaround times. Some examples of business process automation in any business are:
- HR processes such as attendance and leave tracking, payroll, and employee onboarding.
- Operational processes such as helpdesk support, collections, claims, and call centers.
- Accounts and administrative tasks such as procurement, invoicing, ledger management, purchase order process, and order fulfilment.
- Marketing and sales functions such as nurturing, database management, sales orders, and channel automation.
- IT and back office processes such as identity and access management, user provisioning and de-provisioning, file transfers, employee self-service portals, Microsoft application automation, cloud automation, data management, and document management.
- Notifications and alerts
- Reports and dashboards
- Business workflows within or across departments
What are the benefits of Business Process Automation?
Business Process Automation is transformational. Done right, it can have a considerable business impact.
- Realize cost efficiencies- Process automation can help cut operating costs. It helps organizations realize savings by eliminating errors, shrinking the time to perform tasks, and obviating the need for a sizeable number of resources to perform the same task repeatedly. Process automation can accelerate the journey to digitalization and make it easier to identify inefficiency points, delays, and recurring errors. By weeding-out process inefficiencies in their systems, organizations can cut costs to a great extent.
- Improve process visibility and transparency- Business Process Automation can improve process visibility and transparency. This helps identify errors, flaws, and inefficiencies early on, thereby saving the spending that would have been required in course correction. With increased visibility and transparency, the organization will also witness better accountability and regular monitoring, tracking, and reporting on the progress of workflows.
- Standardize processes- By standardizing processes, BPA can reduce the time, effort and money spent on locating information in non-standardized forms and fields. It also streamlines business processes, thus lending itself to better compliance with internal requirements and external regulations. Since every process detail is recorded, the information can be presented during audits or compliance requirements.
- Reduce errors- Business Process Automation simplifies, modernizes, and transforms processes to make them more agile and efficient. Process automation reduces errors and deviations, especially in erstwhile manual processes. It also helps is quicker error resolutions and reduces wait time.
- Enhance employee and customer-facing services- BPA lends itself beautifully to the employee and customer-facing services. It enhances collaboration, availability, and productivity. By maintaining a focus on process and operational excellence, BPA allows enterprises to drive better customer and end-user experience. It helps them attain maturity in user and customer experience and improve the other standards in service delivery.
- Improve resource utilization- Process automation can free up internal resources from repetitive and mundane tasks. This allows them to focus on other value-enhancing tasks.
Process automation makes organizations flexible and agile enough to respond to the changing market conditions, emerging technologies, and customer demands. They can improve their time to market, gain an early mover advantage by adopting next-generation technologies like AI and ML much faster.
What are the different types of Business Process Automation
- Basic Automation: Basic automation involves automating the mundane, repetitive tasks in an organization, giving a centralized place to store all related information. For instance, a centralized messaging tool for a team can provide transparency and clarity in communication. This is way more efficient than having information siloed in various email accounts.
- Process Automation: Process automation documents and manages your business processes for task consistency and transparency. It is more powerful and slightly more complex than basic automation and can be controlled by dedicated software and apps.
- Hyperautomation: Hyperautomation is the application of advanced and emerging technologies such as AI, ML, robotic process automation, natural language processing, to automate processes. It capitalizes ondata and intelligence to enable quicker decision-making and increase agility in today’s highly competitive world. Instead of using any single tool out-of-the-box, hyperautomation uses multiple tools to simplify, design, and monitor processes across the entire organization.
Use cases for Business Process Automation
We looked at some examples of automated process management above. Now, let’s dive deeper into some of the specific business process automation use cases. If you are new to BPA, these use cases are usually a good place to integrate automation into business workflows.
- Employee Onboarding-Traditionally, the employee onboarding process is manually intensive, paper-driven, time-consuming, and cumbersome. Automating employee onboarding eliminates inefficiencies and streamlines the process. It provides the new hires a fuss-free and seamless onboarding experience, while providing visibility to the status of onboarding and keeping the relevant stakeholders in the loop. It fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation. Automated onboarding processes also ensure businesses fulfil compliance requirements around employee-provided identification documents and legal notices employers must give to employees. BPA can advance other onboarding tasks like extending benefit plans to new hires employees, provisioning access to required systems, and other activities required during onboarding of new employees.
- Automating customer support–Process automation provides customer support and service agents easy and ready access to all the necessary customer and product information. This helps them manage customers more efficiently and resolve their problems.
- Automated ledgers–BPA can add data to ledgers and balance sheets to prevent the manual data input in the system which tends to be more error-prone.
- Automated accounts payable–Once a new inventory is received and processed to ensure accuracy, BPA can add the amount to accounts payable and handle the process through to the end payout.
- Automated task scheduling–BPA can automate task scheduling based on projected sales activity, budget cuts, expected seasonal upticks, weather changes, and market factors. Further, BPA can notify employees of their schedule and record their presence, absence, and performance metrics accordingly.
- Automated purchase order– Purchase orders are typically a recurring process in any business. By automating the entire purchase order workflow, businesses can prevent delays and errors in PO, limiting any negative impact on productivity and improving accountability and transparency.
There are a lot of compelling reasons for organizations to automate their business processes. BPA is a stepping stone to process modernization and digital transformation. It can streamline processes through transparency, visibility, and accountability. It also helps an organization serve its customers and end-users more efficiently and effectively.