By 2025, 80 percent of organizations will adopt intelligent automation. That means automating workflows is now a necessary step for CIOs who want to fully embrace digital transformation and future-proof their enterprises.
Business process automation streamlines processes and helps enterprises boost efficiency, improve productivity, and implement new business models. However over 90 percent of automation projects end up failing due to numerous reasons, including technical issues, high implementation costs, lack of strategy, and resistance to change.
Understanding business process automation and how it can be achieved successfully is the best way to get started.
Table of Content
- What is Business Process Automation?
- Business Process Automation Examples
- Why Should You Automate Business Processes?
- What Business Processes Should You Automate?
- Benefits of using Business Process Automation Tools
- Features of Business Process Automation
- Best Practices for Business Process Automation
What is Business Process Automation (BPA)?
Business process automation is the use of technology to automate manual, repetitive tasks so that employees can focus on critical tasks. Automating business processes minimizes costs, increases efficiency, and streamlines processes from simple to complex. About 30 percent of business leaders report reduced labor costs due to process automation.
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.
According to Raghavkumar Parmar, MMA Pan Asia Fund Management, "Any task which has a systematic process flow and is performed in numerous iterations daily has the biggest opportunity for process automation. Whereas tasks that involve a lot of bookkeeping and documentation should be the first targets for digital transformation to get rid of manual storage and workload and so that you can document, index and access all data digitally".
Business Process Automation (BPA) Examples
Business Process Automation (BPA) refers to using technology to automate repetitive and manual tasks in business processes, resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy, and reduced costs. Examples of BPA include Employee Onboarding, Purchase Orders, Customer service, HR processes, Marketing and Sales, Accounting and Finance, Data entry, and management.
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.
Process Automation - Transforming Complexity to Productivity
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
A Business process automation platform 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.
1. 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.
2. Get More Clarity
Automating business processes 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 business process as is and as it should ideally be.
3. Streamline Processes
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.
4. Get Compliance Records
With business process automation, every detail of a particular business process is recorded. This information can be presented to demonstrate compliance during audits.
5. Standardize Operations
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.
6. 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.
Features of Business Process Automation
1. Workflow Management
Streamlines and organizes tasks for efficient execution.
2. Task Scheduling
Enables automated scheduling of tasks and processes based on predefined rules.
3. Process Monitoring
Tracks progress and provides real-time insights into ongoing processes.
Seamlessly connects with existing software and tools to unify data and processes.
5. Reporting and Analytics
Offers data-driven insights to support decision-making and process optimization.
6. User Roles and Permissions
Ensures secure access control and task delegation within the system.
7. Alerts and Notifications
Sends timely updates to stakeholders, keeping them informed of progress or issues.
8. Error Handling
Detects and resolves issues to maintain smooth process execution.
9. Customizable Templates
Provides pre-built templates that can be adapted to specific business needs.
10. Version Control
Manages and tracks changes made to processes, ensuring consistency and auditability.
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?
Kissflow is a cloud-based low-code/ no-code platform that can streamline business process automation for your enterprise with minimal to no coding. An intuitive visual designer and drag-and-drop form builder ensures designing and automating workflows is a breeze. Kissflow allows business users to create new workflows or automate existing processes in just a few clicks while also giving your IT team control over who has access to what data.
Kissflow offers a unique approach to BPM with a visual editor. Get started today to experience it personally.
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Frequently Asked Questions
An example of business process automation is using software to automatically generate invoices based on purchase orders.
RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and BPA (Business Process Automation) are similar in that they both aim to automate tasks within a business process, but RPA focuses specifically on automating rules-based, repetitive tasks while BPA can encompass a wider range of automation efforts, including process re-engineering and optimization.
Types of business process automation include:
- Workflow automation
- Document management automation
- Data entry automation
- Customer service automation
When you sign up for Kissflow Project, you will be provided with a 14 day free trial with our Pro plan. We believe that this will give you an insight into what all the product can offer to help you explore and evaluate the product without any restrictions. We will notify you in-app as well as email you when your trial is about to expire.
Business Process Automation (BPA) is about using technology to automate routine, repetitive tasks to improve efficiency and reduce errors.
Digital Process Automation (DPA) goes a step further by digitizing and optimizing entire business processes. It focuses on enhancing customer experience and driving digital transformation.
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), the most advanced of the three, combines automation with artificial intelligence and machine learning to not only automate tasks but also learn from them and improve over time, making more complex automation possible.