Business process automation (BPA) is no longer a luxury but a necessity for every industry and business size. As your business competes in a global landscape, adopting digital automation technologies is crucial for survival and growth.
Because the goal of business automation is to optimize operations, improve core competencies, and reduce costs, it can be valuable to every department and industry. Digital marketing, employee onboarding, loan application evaluation, HR processes, and data entry are just some of the many areas that can be streamlined with automation tools.
However, before jumping on the bandwagon, you must decide which automation opportunities make the most sense for your business.
What is business automation?
Business automation is the use of technology applications to streamline and optimize different parts of internal operations to increase efficiency, decrease cost, and improve overall productivity by reducing repetitive tasks.
As business automation has evolved, it’s become more focused on external processes to serve and engage customers. This is one of the most important steps toward digital transformation, which is necessary to survive in today’s hyper-competitive and digitally-driven global landscape.
What is business process automation?
Business process automation is the next generation of business automation. It refers to the use of technology to automate repetitive and manual tasks for the entire, end-to-end business process rather than focusing on just a part of the process or individual tasks. With the help of BPA, companies like yours can better create, control, and manage complex workflows and processes for internal teams as well as your customers.
While a few decades ago companies were hesitant to invest in automation technologies, today’s leaders are finally understanding the value of BPA and how it contributes to increased revenue and growth. According to a global 2020 McKinsey survey, more businesses are pursuing automation of business processes in one or more functions as compared to previous years.
What’s the difference between business process automation and robotic process automation?
As organizations get flooded with new automation technologies, it’s important to understand the difference between business process automation (BPA) and robotic process automation (RPA) before deciding on the right solution. While both of them rely on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies, they’re actually quite different.
Business process automation technology focuses on automating organization-wide workflows to improve the overall efficiency of the company. Because of this, BPA implementation requires development skills and complex processes to be integrated with existing data systems or APIs.
Robotic process automation, on the other hand, relies on technology that mimics specific repetitive tasks. It uses robot technology––a.k.a. bots––to complete rule-based human interactions such as system log-ins, inputting and extracting data, and answering simple chat questions. This automation technology is easier to design because the solutions can easily be integrated with existing systems.
Why automate business processes?
Automating business processes can bring countless benefits to an organization, especially by eliminating bottlenecks that contribute to lost time and revenue. By incorporating business automation solutions, companies of any size can improve efficiency across departments like marketing, compliance, human resources, accounts payable and receivable, and more.
Let’s take a look at some benefits BPA can provide across all industries:
- Increased productivity: Manual and repetitive tasks can be completed faster and with fewer errors. This can, in turn, lower the risk of costly mistakes.
- Improved security: Automating processes adds additional layers of security, protecting confidential digital information.
- Improved compliance: Processes are automatically stored, creating an electronic record that can be used to demonstrate compliance during audits.
- Operational efficiency: Automating repetitive tasks provides consistent outcomes with the ability to identify and correct errors, helping improve operational efficiency.
- Increased agility: You can respond more quickly to changing market conditions or customer demands.
- Insight and fluidity: Closely monitoring business processes provides valuable insight and data, allowing your business to quickly pivot.
- Transparency: Process visibility allows for easy KPI tracking along with a clear employee performance picture. With access to this data, employees can track their deliverables and stay accountable for progress.
- Customer satisfaction: By completing tasks faster and more accurately, you can drastically reduce customer wait times.
Opportunities for business automation
Business process automation is not restricted to a specific industry, company size, department, or function. Any organization with processes that are repetitive, time-consuming, error-prone, and have stringent compliance requirements can be a prime candidate for automation, especially with the help of artificial intelligence technology.
Because AI helps streamline day-to-today tasks, it can not only help transform your business, but also reach your growth targets. Let’s take a look at how different departments can leverage BPA.
Marketing and sales
Business automation allows your team to generate more quality leads, along with targeting and personalization improvements.
Automation can help forecast product demand as well as project inventory needs.
Automation tools can detect fraud quickly by analyzing account activity in real-time.
Business process automation can help provide faster, more consistent, and personalized customer support.
Recruitment automation platforms allow your HR department to automate most of the hiring process––including sourcing, attracting candidates, onboarding, and tracking employee performance.
Automating tedious and error-prone activities such as data entry, invoicing, and accounts payable improves accuracy, processing times, compliance, and forecasting.
How to decide which business processes to automate
Before taking a plunge into business process automation, decision-makers must determine business functions that have improvement potential. Once identified, the steps below can help you determine which processes should be automated.
1. Create SOPs documents for every process.
A Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) document is used to break down all the steps of a certain work function. Once the process is dissected, it’s easier to understand the entire step-by-step breakdown.
2. Identify redundancies.
The SOP’s outline can help spot business function redundancies, exposing risks and operational inefficiencies. Employee interviews are also helpful to clear up any confusion and confirm job function processes.
3. Prioritize based on business impact.
Once tasks and roles with automation potential have been compiled, you can prioritize them based on customers, employees, and overall business impact.
4. Find the right technology.
The final step is to identify the automation tools that fit your organization’s needs. While some companies may choose to invest in customized automation solutions, there are also many workflows and BPA software options that can be easily integrated with your company’s existing technology.
Business process automation is an essential step towards digital transformation. As the business landscape becomes more competitive, complex, and global, it’s more important than ever for organizations to not only work hard, but to work smart. Leaning on automation tools helps improve productivity, efficiency, and reliability while decreasing costs, staying competitive, and keeping clients happy.