What is Business Process Automation?

Business process automation (BPA) is an approach where organizations assign as many tasks of a recurring business process as possible to systems rather than humans in order to improve efficiency, reduce cost, and reduce paperwork. It is a subset of a larger discipline, business process management that involves managing of complex organizational processes through a combination of various methods.

In addition to automation, Business Process Automation helps to simplify the progress of tasks that are otherwise complex when performed manually. A suitable application of Business Process Automation helps businesses reduce costs, manage information, set order to its processes, monitor processes in real-time, and use resources carefully. The long-term benefits of using Business Process Automation tools results in increased efficiency, stability in processes, and more productivity.

Business Process Automation(BPA) vs. Business Process Management (BPM)

Business Process Automation can be better understood by deconstructing what BPM actually is. BPA is an approach within the larger arrangement of BPM that focuses on a specific activity among an array of other BPM activities.

Business Process Management is an all-encompassing term to signify the planning, execution, and control of several business processes either occurring separately or in combination with each other. Process automation, on the other hand, could be limited to just one of those processes.

To put things into a better perspective, let’s say BPM is responsible for the simultaneous management of a company’s processes such as finance processing, claims reimbursements, vendor onboarding, etc. In the above context, BPA’s scope could be limited to automating tasks for finance processing.

BPM could employ different types of BPM software or even manual resources to achieve its goals, while Businesss Process Automation typically depends on reducing manual intervention and depending solely on an automated software.

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Business Process Automation Use-cases

Business process automation is used as workflow logistics for various process across divisions within an organization such as human resource, sales, finance, management, operations, IT, etc. It has removed the hassles of manually processing tasks that typically lead to unnecessary delays and inevitable human errors.

Business Process Automation is often applied to organizational tasks that are repetitive in nature and doesn’t require human intervention to a deep level. Take employee onboarding as an example. It can be a daunting task for an HR personnel of a hiring organization, especially if physical paperwork is involved. The HR person may have multiple onboardings going on at the same time and struggle with coordinating with separate departments.

Business process automation software can easily overcome these challenges and streamline the whole process with little to no room for errors. The organisation should first set up a conducive environment to apply automation into the process, like keeping the new joinee’s digital files and personal information in the same place so they do not need to be redone for every department. An automated process will ensure candidates get the appropriate technology, are added as users to important software, have their workstation setup, and give important contact information, all before the joinee arrives on the first day. Different people are notified automatically when they need to act on a certain task.

A host of other departments can adopt Business Process Automation to their process to ease process cycles that are complicated in nature. Automating business processes can speed up services, improve inventory management, manage invoice orders, and keep a tab on supply-chain management.

Business Process Automation Can’t Fix Everything

Business process automation can consume a huge amount of time and company’s capital to set up, and might not be a one-size-fits-all solution to every organizational problem. Moreover, applied to a process that is not fit for an automated workflow solution, BPA can turn out to be an unnecessary liability instead of an asset.

The important role that Business Process Automation plays in optimizing organizational workflows and streamlining complex processes cannot be undermined. But an objective understanding of the approach shows that BPA can allow waste (in terms of time and resources) to exist in an organization.

Each automation calls for changes to existing organizational and management processes which could push back a company’s business priorities. Additionally, BPA requires Quality Assurance (QA) process to make sure the expected results of automation surpass the previously-existing manual processes. Implementing QA requires ample time and resources, in addition to the investment on automation.

Buseinss Process Automation (BPA) vs. Business Process Improvement (BPI)

BPA is often mistaken with Business Process Improvement (BPI), another approach under the broader discipline of BPM. While the former is an approach to automate organizational processes and earn efficiency, the latter is a systematic business application that focuses on process redesign and reengineering to reduce cost and time while improving process quality.

Incorporating process improvement in the application can leverage the use of a Business Process Automation software and gain desired results.

BPI’s pragmatic approach can yield almost double the productivity gain than BPA. But when put together, the two applications can yield a much higher productivity than their individual returns.

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