What is Business Process Automation?

What is Business Process Automation?  And why is it important?

Reducing costs, increasing productivity, and boosting employee morale are key objectives for most organizations. And yet, many companies are falling short of these goals as they’re relying on outdated technologies to run and drive their business – which burdens employees with painstaking, manual and time-consuming processes. Old habits can be hard to break, but not evolving “the business of work” can throttle both business growth and employee satisfaction.

Business process automation (BPA) is at the forefront of work transformation. It’s main underlying goal is efficiency, and it’s one of the smartest places to start if you’re looking to transform your computing infrastructure to boost business outcomes and employee morale. In this post, we’re going to break down BPA into bite-sized pieces, and outline some of the key questions you need to ask before bringing BPA into your organization.

Business Process Automation Basics

What is Business Process Automation? BPA is the idea of making workflows and processes more efficient, more cost effective, and more scalable by taking simple, menial tasks and shifting them from a human operator to a computer. BPA automates repetitive, manual processes and is part of the natural evolution taking place in our digital de facto world – turning to technology to streamline processes. Along with relieving individuals of low-value activities, it supports continuous improvement for the organization. Benefits include:

  • Reduced Errors: Eliminate the occurrence of human errors introduced through data entry.
  • Reduced Paperwork: Move from paper-based work environments to digital to reduce clutter and improve content accessibility anytime, anywhere
  • Improved Process Speed and Efficiency: Perform tasks at a fraction of the time and improve collaboration across departments and/or continents.
  • Greater Accountability: Alerts and digital routing ensures tasks don’t get overlooked and are processed regularly and consistently without the need for extensive manual oversight.
  • Better Visibility: Gain deeper insight into processes and data through reporting and analytics for improved management reporting.
  • Improved Customer Care: Customers or clients receive consistent, faster interactions and engagements when back by automated processes and reliable systems.
  • Reduced Costs: Reduction in labor, paper and storage requirements contribute to substantial cost savings.
  • Improved Employee Satisfaction: Take monotonous tasks off employee To Do Lists to avoid burnout and shift focus to more value-added work activities.

Process Improvement and Employee Engagement

According to a recent automation survey, 40% of workers spend more than 25% of the work week doing manual, repetitive tasks. Is it any wonder then, that employee engagement continues to ebb?

Good workers are hard to find, and employee retention is an expensive encounter. Automating tasks frees up skilled workers to focus on higher-value, more rewarding activities – which drives job satisfaction. Robert Half’s It’s Time We All Work Happy survey found that happy workers are 12% more productive than those who are miserable.

According to a recent McKinsey report, companies can automate 50-70% of their business tasks, and 97% of information workers think automation can benefit their workplaces. Automation technologies help workers maximize time and allow them to tackle the more innovative and inspiring aspects of their jobs. BPA significantly reduces repetitive, unsatisfying tasks and instead enables people to optimize productivity to work happier and more efficiently.

Companies still relying on outdated digital processes are dragging down their departments and employees with boring and unrewarding activities – plus putting their business at risk by not adapting to change and embracing business efficiencies.

Processes Begging for Automation

So what is business process automation, what does it look like in the real world, and what industries is it best suited for? BPA has broad application to a wide variety of sectors. Businesses of all sizes and markets – and employees of all wages and skill levels – can benefit from BPA innovation to improve internal processes and the daily work day.

Following are some examples of where companies can reduce or remove data burdens by applying automation to gain productivity improvements:

  • Manual data entry and extraction
  • Time tracking
  • Email follow-up
  • Help-desk requests
  • Budgeting and invoicing
  • Data collection and processing
  • Spreadsheet usage
  • Approvals and status updates
  • Inventory management
  • HR activities (e.g., expense approvals, vacation requests, employee on-boarding, etc.)

Charting a New Course for Your Business

It can be hard to usher in change to IT systems and employees, and tech investments are a challenge and a risk. However, automation systems are a must-have to survive and thrive in today’s business world, and an area your competitors are investing in.

To press forward and bring BPA to your business, start by considering the following questions:

What can be done more efficiently within our business?

  • Where do we experience the most pain points across systems and departments?
  • What processes are repeated more than a handful of times?
  • What is the business benefit of this project?
  • What does successes look like?
  • Who is the business owner of this initiative?
  • Do we have C-level buy-in and ongoing support/involvement?
  • What compliance considerations do we need to keep in mind?
  • How will we handle the culture aspect and expected pushback to this process change?
  • How will we bring end-users on board?
  • Do we have clear, measurable goals?

Next, explore business process automation software solutions and services. Ask potential partners the following questions:

  • Will this integrate with our core programs, services and platforms?
  • What does the program interface look like?
  • How easily can users use the solution?
  • How customizable is the solution?
  • What kind of reporting and analytics capabilities are offered?
  • What level of training is available to users?
  • Is this a solution that can scale as our business grows?
  • How is pricing structured and how does it change as the organization grows?

Business Process Automation Can Manage the Mundane

What is Business Process Automation? BPA is a solid first step in bringing today’s level of digital efficiencies to your business. Given workflow or customer experience crosses multiple applications, BPA can help to put those critical processes under a “single pane of glass” for unified visibility and purposeful productivity.

BPA also lays the groundwork for additional automation enhancements to streamline work functions such as artificial intelligence (AI). Maybe your business does not have an AI strategy today, but that may change in the next few years. As companies move forward injecting AI into their workflows, companies with automated processes will be in a much better position to benefit from the new and additive opportunities AI presents.

There will always be a need for human involvement in the workplace, but savvy companies are strategizing on how to divide and conquer work – relegating repetitive, predictable work to automation to free up employee time to focus on exceptions and higher value-added tasks. Many business processes today are ripe for automation. What is Business Process Automation?  It’s an investment that’s quickly realized on the workflow front, and one that will significantly increase job satisfaction and make the best use of your company’s most irreplaceable resource – your people.

Business Process Automation has broad application to a wide variety of sectors. Businesses of all sizes and markets – and employees of all wages and skill levels – can benefit from BPA innovation to improve internal processes and the daily work day.

Business Process Automation has broad application to a wide variety of sectors. Businesses of all sizes and markets – and employees of all wages and skill levels – can benefit from BPA innovation to improve internal processes and the daily work day.