The Complete Guide to Business Process Automation
According to a report titled The Sorry State of Digital Transformation in 2018 by Forrester, up to 22 percent businesses still don’t have process excellence and workflow automation. These are critical aspects for customer satisfaction and growing revenue. If you wish to have a growing roster of happy customers, you need to start focusing on process excellence. Business process automation is a straightforward, effective way to get started on that path.
What is business process automation (BPA)?
Business process automation is the use of technology to execute recurring tasks or processes in a business where manual effort can be replaced. It is done to minimize costs, increase efficiency, and streamline processes.
Business process automation is not to be confused with business process management, which is a larger discipline involving the management of complex organization-wide processes using different methodologies.
Business process automation examples
For a better understanding of business process automation, here are a couple of use cases.
1. Employee onboarding
Although hiring employees may seem like a fuss-free process, it involves multiple tasks. Filling out employee information forms, setting up induction sessions, arranging training sessions, setting up bank accounts, collecting relevant documents, and assigning mentors are just a few of the activities involved.
Without automation, the entire process can become quite chaotic and result in:
- Endless paperwork
- Missing out on some tasks
- Employee dissatisfaction
- Low productivity
Applying business process automation to employee onboarding will ensure smooth transitions from one task to the next, keeping relevant employees in the loop and providing visibility into the status of the process.
2. Purchase orders
Purchase order requests are recurring processes in most organizations. The requesting team fills out a form and sends it to the purchasing team. The approving authority then examines the request and rejects the request in case information is inadequate or if there are budgetary constraints. It is then sent back to the requesting team. If approved, a purchase order is created and copies are sent to the supplier as well as the inventory team.
Without automation, the following issues could crop up:
- Delayed PO approval
- Impacted productivity
- Incomplete records
- Errors in the PO
- Errors while taking delivery of the supplies
Business process automation can help improve accountability, transparency, and enable accurate data recording, which can be accessed by relevant stakeholders when necessary. It will also retain all process-related communication within the workflow to make execution easier and faster.
Why should you automate business processes?
Here are some compelling reasons to automate your business processes.
Stepping stone to digital transformation
Digital transformation can seem like a lofty overwhelming goal to organizations that aren’t on that path. Business process automation can be a stepping-stone to adopting that culture of continuous transformation. You can start with a few processes that are clearly in need of course correction and gradually work your way up.
Get more clarity
Automation demands a certain amount of clarity about the process right at the designing stage. If you don’t know the tasks involved and the people responsible for running the process, you can’t design and automate the workflow effectively.
Further, process mapping can provide clarity to all employees and serve as a training resource as well. The insights you gain from analyzing an automated process can clearly show you the gap between your process as is and as it should ideally be.
One of the great outcomes of a process automation system is streamlined processes. Clear accountability, customizable notifications, valuable insights, and faster turnaround times make it easier to eliminate wasteful activities and focus on enhancing tasks that add value.
Get compliance records
With business process automation, every detail of a particular process is recorded. This information can be presented to demonstrate compliance during audits.
When you automate a business process, you can expect a consistent standard of outcomes every time. Standardization helps position your organization as reliable, which in turn can help increase your customer base.
Increase customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is a key differentiator in any industry. Focusing on process and operational excellence helps you exceed customer expectations with ease. When you consistently meet promised standards, customers are more likely to develop a preference for your company.
What business processes should you automate?
Business process automation is not restricted to a handful of functions. Some factors that can indicate the need for automation include
- High-volume of tasks
- Multiple people required to execute tasks
- Time-sensitive nature
- Significant impact on other processes and systems
- Need for compliance and audit trails
If an activity meets all the criteria listed above, it’s very likely you need to automate your business process.
To give you a clearer picture, here are some commonly automated processes in organizations.
- E-mail and push notifications
- Helpdesk support
- Creating customer case studies
- Data aggregation and migration
- Backup and restoration
- Employee leave requests
- Call center processes
- Sales orders
- Time and attendance tracking
- Product launches
- Lead nurturing
Benefits of using business process automation tools
Once you have automated your business processes, you can expect to see multiple benefits.
- You’ll see a boost in productivity brought about by enhanced access. Cloud-based business process automation tools store your data in a central database. This helps you access data from any location or device whenever you need it.
- Your business processes will become much more transparent. You can track and monitor processes while they are running, which can improve accountability and visibility.
- The ability to monitor processes on the go will also help you keep a lookout for errors, fixing them as they occur. Performance reports will arm you with insights so you can take preventive measures against recurring errors.
- From a long-term perspective, you’ll begin to notice faster turnaround times and a reduction in costs due to fewer manual interventions.
- You’ll also find yourself in a position to enhance your workforce allocation since the application will handle all mundane recurring tasks. This way you can redirect your employees into tasks that necessitate human effort and judgment.
A business process automation system will ultimately enable growing business efficiency. Since it is based on the notion of continuous process improvement, efficiency levels will keep increasing in response.
Best practices for business process automation
Merely signing up for a business process automation tool may not guarantee success. You’ll need to take a pragmatic thorough approach to automate your business processes.
Here are some pointers on how you can make automation a success.
- Start with a clear understanding of what tasks are involved, who is responsible, and when each task is to be executed.
- Ensure that you have clearly defined goals when you automate a business process. This will save a lot of time in course correction.
- Measure results with a phased approach. Many organizations are disappointed when the results don’t materialize overnight.
- Invest adequate time in training employees and factor in an adjustment period.
- Adopt a long-term outlook to experience good ROI.
- Use readymade solutions where available.
Have you tried Kissflow Process?
If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, Kissflow can provide you a delightful automation experience. It is a cloud-based, no-code application, which doesn’t require extensive IT support to set it up. An intuitive visual designer and drag-and-drop form builder will ensure that designing and automating your workflows is a breeze.
Kissflow also caters to your data security needs with role-based access. This means you can control who has access to specific data.
Kissflow Process offers a unique approach to BPM with a visual editor. Sign up for a free trial and experience it personally.