Business process automation (BPA) is the use of technology to automate complex business processes. Repeatable, day-to-day tasks can be time-consuming and waste valuable resources. The implementation of process automation software can streamline operations and help businesses achieve key objectives fast and effectively.
Approximately 31 percent of businesses have fully automated at least one function, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. global survey. The automation of workflows helps minimize the time and cost of manually handling IT services, administration and support. Process automation software is capable of bridging multiple platforms, systems and applications while eliminating barriers that negatively impact business processes.
Companies often turn to business process automation as part of a comprehensive digital transformation strategy. Learn more about process automation software, how it works and why so many organizations are using BPA to operate more efficiently.
What Is Business Process Automation?
Before proceeding into the definition of business process automation software, it is important to understand what is meant by a business process.
The term “business process” refers to any set of activities used by a business to reach a specified goal. It is usually a repeatable transaction that involves several steps that use multiple IT systems. Examples of business processes include onboarding a new employee, approving a loan application, fulfilling a customer order or processing an expense report.
Traditionally, a simple business process may require multiple documents, emails and handoffs between departments. With so many steps involved, these manual tasks are often plagued with errors, missed deadlines and communication breakdowns. Automation aims to prevent these types of problems by simplifying the way that common business processes are handled.
Developing a reusable business automation strategy can help businesses gain control over common business processes, reduce confusion among employees and improve communication. Through automation, organizations can save a significant amount of time and resources, allowing employees to place their focus on core activities rather than tedious and repetitive tasks.
Business process automation can lead to an overall better user experience and countless other benefits.
How Is Process Automation Software Used?
Business process automation software typically uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to execute recurring tasks in replacement of manual effort. BPA accelerates how work is completed by transferring information to the right parties at the right times through user-defined actions and rules. Business process automation software can be used to streamline a wide range of processes, such as contract management and accounts payable.
Before BPA software can be used to its full advantage, organizations must identify certain key elements to determine what processes are suitable for automation. A process is worthy of automation if it requires consistency across the organization, needs to be free from error and is repeatable. The primary goal of business process automation is to make business processes more streamlined, cost-efficient, transparent and error-proof to achieve overall improved operational efficiency.
What Are The Benefits Of Process Automation Software?
Business process automation software can help eliminate bottlenecks responsible for lost time and revenue. Improvements in efficiency can enhance nearly every facet of an organization, from improved compliance and productivity to better market performance and customer experience.
Here is a look at some of the top benefits of using process automation software:
1. Save Employees Time
One of the biggest benefits of process automation is the saving of time. Repetitive office tasks cost businesses approximately $5 trillion in lost productivity each year, according to a multi-national research study released by Unit4.
Approving paperwork, searching for information, processing documents and similar tasks require time that could be better spent completing core business activities that help grow the company. Business process automation software solutions can complete manual tasks faster and without errors.
2. Reduce Costs
Each year, companies lose 20 to 30 percent in revenue due to inefficiencies, according to market research from IDC. Making the switch from manual to automated business processes can save organizations a significant amount of money through streamlined operations and error minimization.
3. Increase Productivity
Performing tasks manually can cause productivity to plummet due to the amount of time it takes to complete cumbersome tasks. When these same tasks are moved to a digital solution, multiple processes can be managed simultaneously, resulting in a higher rate of productivity.
4. Make Business Processes More Efficient
Processes are considered efficient when the best possible outcome is achieved using minimal effort. Process automation software is designed to follow a predefined set of steps that ensure tasks are completed quickly and consistently. Automation can help improve overall quality, promote greater visibility and contribute to more efficient task management.
5. Minimize The Risk Of Errors
Errors are fairly common when administrative tasks are completed manually. Employees are only human and mistakes can occur that result in inefficiencies and delays. The implementation of process automation software can help minimize the risk of errors and avoid costly, redundant operations.
6. Create Auditable Records
Process automation software allows each phase of an audited process to be recorded. This information creates an audit trail that makes it possible to track all documents involved, see which employees completed which tasks and determine when each action occurred.
7. Standardize Business Processes
When business processes are completed manually, they are often inconsistent as each employee has their own habits when it comes to completing and filing. Process automation software standardizes business processes to ensure that a standard outcome is reached each time and no critical steps are overlooked.
8. Meet Compliance
Organizations are responsible for meeting strict compliance requirements or risk the costly repercussions of noncompliance. Through process automation, businesses can set up security measures, develop retention methods for personal data and ensure the confidential protection of sensitive information.
9. Deliver A Good Customer Experience
Modern customers seek fast and reliable access to services. Process automation software helps organizations develop more accurate, faster and overall better quality services for customers. With quick access to information, businesses can retrieve data within seconds instead of wasting hours looking through piles of paperwork.
10. Enhance Scalability
Businesses will often find that the scope of their work grows as their customer portfolio expands and the number of employees on the payroll increases. Business processes become much more complex and time-consuming when more people are involved. Process automation software can help enhance scalability as an organization grows.
How Are Automated Processes Built?
According to Harvard Business Review, an estimated 30 percent of work activities for more than half of the jobs in the U.S. could be automated. However, recognizing the need for automation is only the beginning. Automating processes or workflows requires organizations to go through a series of steps to ensure a satisfactory outcome.
The first step towards automating a manual process involves defining the goal. The primary driver behind the automation may be to make processes more predictable, add value to the product, improve the customer experience or make tasks less repetitive for employees. Next, the target process must be identified, which could be a family of related processes or subprocesses. Being as specific as possible will help keep the automation project manageable.
Once a business has identified the process that they want to automate, they will need to establish boundaries. One of the easiest ways to set boundaries is to identify the starting point, or trigger, of the process or workflow that is to be automated. Next, identify the outcome or result. Manual tasks that occur between these two points are good candidates for automation.
The next step in building automated processes involves creating a process map. Mapping can sometimes require assistance from other people on the team depending on the complexity of the process. It is important to have the most complete process map possible, which means including all tasks and actors in the process workflow.
Businesses can then use the process map to create an inventory of all tasks and workflows that make up each process. Note that some tasks cannot be automated and will likely require some level of human input each time they are completed. However, other tasks can be completely automated by software. Some common tasks that are automated include creating requests, notifying team members, sending emails and task status updates.
To move a task from manual to automatic, businesses need access to the right tools and functions. Quality process automation software can make automation easy to both implement and manage. Business automation software can also be integrated with an existing stack to create a seamless business experience where data is coordinated across all applications.
The final step involves bringing the automation plans to reality. After setting process boundaries, identifying tasks and manual processes and reviewing current software capabilities, leverage the process automation software to plan and configure the automation in any workflow. Decide what will trigger the automation and what the automation will do.
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Automated processes can have countless benefits over manual processing, including reduced errors, improved visibility, better workload management, reduced approval cycles, improved employee satisfaction and enhanced policy compliance adherence.
What makes process automation software so popular is that it can be conveniently used in nearly every industry. In the manufacturing industry, businesses can automate their stock control processes to streamline production. In the banking sector, BPA software can help clear checks significantly faster than in decades past. Process automation software is also commonly used in healthcare for project management, quality control processes, electronic signatures and record management.
After gaining a solid understanding of what process automation software is and how it works, it is time to get started with the automation process for your business. Contact the experienced custom software development experts at Orases today to schedule a consultation.