5 Great Tips for Successful Business Process Automation
When you want to streamline business processes, it is only for one reason: to improve your organization’s day-to-day operations and make them more efficient. Do it wrong, and you’ll end up defeating the very reason you started streamlining business processes in the first place.
As with other tech-driven solutions, it helps if you plan the implementation, and spend time and resources wisely in the transition.
Why automate processes in the first place?
Automation is a buzzword these days. Everyone wants to automate processes without knowing what benefits they will get out of it. Here are four main benefits of business process automation.
1. Increased productivity
All the repetitive laborious tasks can be automated. These tasks are mostly data entry, manual calculations, routing requests based on rules, etc. Any step that operates based on rules can be automated. With repetitive tasks automated, you can spend time on tasks that need actual human attention and decisions.
2. Reduced errors
Most errors are caused by humans. Even if systems make errors, the errors occur repeatedly signaling faulty setup by humans. With automation, errors are almost zero. Even if they occur, the system makes it easy to pinpoint the exact location. Machines can do what they do best–perform repetitive actions with zero errors and maximum efficiency.
3. Better planning
An advantage of automation is data. You get detailed information about how your processes happen throughout each stage. How much time is spent on tasks, where the most errors happen, what kind of requests frequent more, and more. With this kind of data, you can predict, plan, and allocate resources better for the future.
4. Improved transparency and data security
When a process is automated, all the activities happen in the open. Everyone understands the process better than before. Automation also gives the ability to control access to data. You can choose to show or hide specific information to assigned users or user groups. With one shot, you increase transparency and get more control over data access.
Five tips for business processes automation
1. Study the process before you automate it
Too often, companies will dive right into the automation of a process, without thoroughly analyzing it first. Start by mapping out the process visually, and iron out redundancies and inefficient steps. For instance, if your accounts team tends to work significantly harder on a particular day of the month, they may be following a dated procedure that can be improved through automation. Study processes this way from every department.
The key to streamlining business processes effectively is to dissect them before you automate them using software tools.
Bill Gates got it absolutely right:
- “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.
- The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
2. Applications first, tech later
Another common pitfall–especially when dreaming about the juicy prospects of automation and streamlining work processes–is that people often create their workflow automation apps and then try to fit them to problematic tasks and/or processes.
The right approach is quite the opposite; figure out a process that is bloated or redundant, study it, and then develop the solution specifically for it.
3. Check the ROI of automation
Make sure the time and other valuable resources you spend to streamline business processes don’t actually outweigh the costs and time saved because of automation. Companies can spend anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000 on traditional BPM tools. (Drop off a few zeros if you opt for kissflow!)
If your HR team were to spend thousands of dollars on automating their background verification process and only saved a fraction of the amount by doing so, it would be obviously a waste of money.
The whole point of streamlining a business process is to make it more cost- and time-effective, so ensure that it actually is!
4. Think long term
Checking the ROI is important, but it’s crucial that you consider the long-term effect. Complete implementation can take over a year, so start with a 5-year plan. With a large multi-process organization, use the 80-20 rule–changing 20% of your processes can give you 80% of the possible benefits. Put someone in charge of championing the implementation, and convince managers who might be averse to change.
Make sure the way you streamline business processes leaves room for growth and changes in your development process. You don’t want to spend 6 months streamlining your purchase order process, and then realize that finance was planning on shifting it to an outsourced model as the company scales.
5. Use readymade solutions whenever available
The business processes in your organization are probably similar to processes that have been automated already in other companies. If you have access to such streamlined business process automations, look into whether you can adopt them for your company. Some workflow automation solutions like Kissflow come preloaded with app libraries that you can use to create your own process automation apps, without having to start from scratch.
With Kissflow Process, a business process management software, you can follow all these tips as you streamline business processes at your company. It lets you visualize processes even as you get set to automate them, and you can develop apps according to the process you need to automate. Given that it is priced extremely competitively, ROI concerns are taken care of.
Kissflow Process also lets you streamline your business processes, and gives you access to ready-made app templates. Try it today!