To gain a competitive advantage over other players in the industry, organizations are acknowledging the importance of technology to elevate business processes. Digital process transformation is taking businesses around the world by storm, especially with the rise of online business transactions and remote work setups brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As process automation and digital transformation become rising trends in managing organizations, it is also important to discuss their relations and differences. Can process automation and digital transformation exist without the other? Which offers a more significant change in employee productivity and sales performance?
In this article, we’ll discuss how organizations benefit from a digital process transformation initiative. We’ll also look into real-world use cases to provide a glimpse into the importance of automation to carry out an efficient and valuable digital transformation initiative.
What is process automation?
Process automation also referred to as business process automation (BPA), employs technology to replace manual processes. The manual efforts and labor of human business users are taken over by automation for more efficient management of redundant tasks.
Digital process transformation refers to a strategic approach to using digital technologies, processes, and data to transform business operations, enhance customer experiences, and drive growth. It involves a comprehensive change management process that enables organizations to fully leverage technology to improve efficiency, enhance customer experiences, and drive business growth.
Business Process Automation and Business Process Management: What is the difference?
Business process automation and business process management are two different methodologies. Business process automation is a specific focus on automating processes of a business function. Business process management, on the other hand, is a major discipline concerned with implementing and optimizing business functions from a broad understanding of employee behavior, information flow, and interconnected systems.
How significant is process automation in digital transformation?
It has become a common understanding that process automation and digital transformation are mutually dependent business practices. However, software engineers and developers beg to differ.
1. Process automation and digital transformation are intersecting points
Process automation helps organizations to reduce the cost and complexity of their operations, while digital transformation is a journey that businesses undergo to embrace fully digital and dynamic business functions. In simple terms, process automation is a critical solution that facilitates a successful digital transformation in an organization. Streamlining multiple processes across departments and providing real-time reports and analytics are vital to a cost-effective and empowering digital transformation initiative.
2. Process automation is the lifeblood of modern-day business operations
Modern organizations like to stay on top of industry trends, leveraging real-time data on consumer behavior and competitor activity to increase profits and boost overall productivity. The breakneck speed of technological innovations in business management only fuels organizations to turn to digital solutions.
Process automation is far from being the first suggestion for business process improvement. However, it is a straightforward solution that addresses the speed and cost of running business processes.
Of course, digital transformation is a more valuable approach, as it aims to optimize business functions. It zooms in on the root cause of business inefficiency and enables process automation to run functional and sustainable processes for a fraction of the cost of manual processes.
3. Process automation offers cross-functional operations within the organization
A digital transformation initiative concerns itself with breaking silos and encouraging a cooperative work culture across departments in an organization. Process automation encourages business users to explore creative solutions to address pressing issues. For instance, instead of waiting on the marketing department to come up with a business solution to staggering sales rates, automated workflows offer a suite of business functions for other business users to gain insights into the best steps to take in addressing the problem.
What good is digital transformation for an organization?
Digital transformation is a journey an organization undergoes to improve manual processes through the introduction of digital solutions, process automation, and central workplace management. Digital process transformation encompasses change in business functions, company culture, and customer experience.
Digital transformation occurs in three phases:
Digitization: Transforming business assets and resources into digitized versions, such as scanning paper documents and converting them into PDF format. Digitization bridges the gap between digital solutions and the real world.
Digitalization: Adopting technologies to improve business processes. Digitalization serves to improve existing business processes without implementing changes to how digital data is processed.
Digital transformation: Changing or improving business processes with the power of digital solutions. Digital transformation is the culmination of an organization’s efforts to digitize and digitalize business functions and data.
Digital transformation enables organizations to maximize resources, streamline processes, and improve overall customer experience. While it may take some time before businesses reach their maximum potential with a digital transformation initiative, here are several benefits you may not want to miss out on, especially amid a technology-driven age.
1. Generate actionable, data-backed insights
Statistics and key performance metrics are vital for an organization to keep track of business performance and the state of the industry. Digital transformation enables comprehensive data collection and management to help business leaders make better-informed decisions.
2. Empower non-technical business users
There’s a strong consensus that the modern business industry will be taken over by agile citizen developers. The decreasing number of professional software developers is pushing organizations to take matters into their own hands. By equipping business users with the skills and knowledge to navigate low-code or no-code technologies, business applications tailored to the organization’s needs and requirements are made available in a matter of days.
3. Reduce the risk of human error
Human error while entering and calibrating data affects the quality of other data saved in the system. It also risks the organization’s reputation and customer trust when left unaddressed. Digital transformation limits the damages brought by human inefficiencies through constant data validation.
4. Introduce collaborative efforts and transparent communication
Siloed functions in an organization hinder cross-operational growth and communication. Through a central digital workplace, business users can collaborate on projects and promote creativity. In addition, communication is made easier without going through the hierarchical channels that exist in a conventional workplace.
5. Boost operational efficiency
The complex bureaucracies of manual processes can be overcome easily with digital transformation. Run multiple business processes at a time without losing track of progress or causing bottlenecks for other ongoing processes. Digital transformation enables business users to navigate automated processes, increase time-to-market, and scale profits.
How process automation accelerates digital transformation
Now that you have a better understanding of digital process transformation and its relation to process automation, it is time to discuss how process automation helps drive digital transformation initiatives better. Any organization, when ready to embark on a digital transformation journey, can begin humbly with efficient process automation.
1. Encourage transparent management
Process automation provides a clear and transparent perspective on how the organization is running beyond day-to-day operations. Managers receive better insights into employee workload, project deadlines, business goals, and new business opportunities.
2. Reinforce business compliance
Executing a digital business process requires every step to be thoroughly acted upon and risks are all calculated to meet compliance standards. Automated processes leave no room for shortcuts or missing procedures in delivering results.
3. Sustain productivity
Whereas manual processes are not immune to distractions or the personal circumstances of business users, process automation ensures tasks, no matter how repetitive, are executed seamlessly.
4. Reallocate human resources
Process automation frees the busy hands and minds of business users by taking over the reins in managing tedious, technical tasks. Employees find new purpose with more meaningful job roles, improving employee satisfaction and overall positive outcomes for the organization.
When does an organization utilize process automation?
Process automation can be used for simple tasks such as managing invoice requests, data entry sheets, payroll approval, or employee onboarding. It varies for every organization and its existing systems.
For instance, a school or university may be seeking a better way to manage student application forms. However, they do not wish to introduce a new process due to budget constraints. Automating the process with a dedicated student web portal streamlines how the registrar receives student forms and other requests.
A mid-to-large-sized company may also aspire to switch from email when processing employee sick leave requests or vacation leaves. With process automation, business users can funnel employee requests apart from general email threads to provide quick replies.
Process automation can also support hiring managers and recruiters in meeting candidates and onboarding new hires. Managers can gather simultaneously to review resumes and participate in interviews. HR representatives can guide qualified candidates around the workplace with an onboarding kit prepared in advance.
Business use cases of process automation in the real world
Process automation isn’t as new as you might think. Organizations around the world have come to learn about digital process transformation as they were first exposed to business process automation. Below are several real-world examples of process automation.
Lincoln Financial Media
The evolution of media and advertising urged many businesses to eliminate paper documents and switch to digital solutions. Managing digital marketing campaigns and advertisements motivated Lincoln Financial Media to deploy media-related projects and tasks online using a central workplace system. This promotes operational efficiency, as staff no longer have to switch mediums in accomplishing small tasks and monitoring the performance of their latest media campaign.
Catering to approval requests on an international scale can be overwhelming, especially if communication takes place via email. Software developer Beqom revitalized their approval process with process automation to avoid bottlenecks and gain visibility on the latest status of the approval requests.
Communication is vital to keeping track of the progress of an ongoing project. For Landmark Properties, process automation is a must to mobilize the marketing team. The real estate firm embraced process automation to encourage collaborative efforts and optimize project management.
Challenges to digitizing and automating business processes
Business process transformation is not immune to challenges or shortcomings in delivering reliable solutions. Continuous monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of business process automation must be observed to ensure the organization reaps the fullest benefits.
As beneficial as process automation is to many organizations, several more shy away from it due to challenges that are difficult to overlook.
Employee resistance to change
The mindset of employees affects the effectiveness of a business process automation solution. When employees are resistant to embracing change and technology, the organization struggles to transition into a more digitalized means of operations.
Automating the wrong process
Process automation takes over manual labor to hasten business functions and reduce operational costs. However, process automation is not the absolute solution to promote operational efficiency. Certain processes still require the intuition and opinion of human business users. Automating the wrong process can compromise an organization’s commitment to quality.
Lack of information security
Process automation promotes a collaborative atmosphere where business users across different departments can contribute to existing workflows and projects. However, the confidentiality of data can be compromised due to the free flow of data between departments.
Lack of change management
Change management plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance in an organization as business functions undergo changes. Without change management, business users may feel lost and overwhelmed with the changes happening around the organization. Instead of hastening processes, automated workflows can confuse displaced employees.
The step-by-step guide to digital process transformation
Digital process transformation is the systematic transition from traditional workflows to automated workflows streamlined for optimal functionality, productivity, and maximum ROI.
Step 1. Digitize documents
The very first step in digitization and digital transformation is to produce digital copies of paper documents. Convert physical documents into electronic files for digital storage, archival, retrieval, and backup.
- Document security
- Reduced paper waste
- Reduced printing costs
Step 2. Organize documents
File organization goes beyond proper naming. Provide and extract accurate metadata for easy storage and management in a central data hub.
- Minimal errors in data entry
- Proper document tagging and classification
- Easy file retrieval
- Eliminate duplicate files
Step 3. Automate and digitalize processes
Equip digital technologies to automate processes and provide transparency in the progress of business functions.
- Boost productivity
- Meet governance and compliance standards
- Run uniform and consistent processes within the organization
Step 4. Optimize processes
Reallocate business resources as necessary to deliver efficient business operations across departments and management levels.
- Ensures transparency on actionable business insights
- Reallocates staff and other resources
- Addresses security risks and vulnerabilities
Step 5. Transform processes
The final step to digital transformation is embracing digital process transformation and aligning it with business objectives. Transform operations with data-backed business decisions, and determine the effects on company culture, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
- Agile business development
- Employee empowerment
- Continuous innovation and growth
Check out Kissflow: The #1 digital process transformation platform
Take your business functions to the next level with Kissflow, the enterprise-friendly digital work platform trusted by global clients. Kissflow is a cloud-based work platform with an extensive collection of features to empower business users.
From low-code application development and workflow management to process automation and project management, Kissflow is the comprehensive digital solution to differentiate your organization from competitors in the industry. Make the most of the intuitive drag-and-drop workflow builder to run and automate processes in mere minutes.
Kissflow offers industry-grade business process automation to standardize existing processes and elevate your digital transformation journey.
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