Automating the business process can save you time and money. Whether it’s creating invoices, issuing notices, or dealing with customers—automation can help speed up the process and save you time and energy. But there are a few things to keep in mind before automating your business. First, make sure your automation isn’t overwhelming or disruptive to your current processes. Second, consider the cost of automation vs. the value it offers to your business. Finally, make sure you have an understanding of your customer base before going ahead with any new automation.—Zenaida Rangel
Business Process Automation: What Is It?
BPA refers to the codification and programmatic integration of a networked set of software applications to automate workflows and processes across a business’s departments so that they happen automatically and without manual, human intervention. BPA puts more emphasis on overall processes than it does on particular tasks.
BPA is about more complex business operations, such as processing payroll or keeping track of inventory, for example, even though some business processes, like form filling and recordkeeping, are automated.
How does automating business processes work?
Software is used in business process automation to automate manual, repetitive tasks. There are numerous techniques for automating work, and users will respond differently to each.
BPA can be summed up as software that consistently performs the same task until its use is changed or eliminated.
What types of business procedures are automatable?
Business functions fall into two categories: core and support. The actions that generate revenue for the company are considered core functions. They are the main drivers of the company’s existence and, ideally, its success. Secondary actions that assist the core functions are called support functions.
Businesses use BPA to automate a variety of processes in both core and support functions in order to boost productivity and cut costs.
The activities that businesses are most likely to outsource, insource, or near-source are support functions. As a result, BPA can reduce or do away with these outsourcing fees. Many businesses use BPA for administrative tasks so they can direct workers’ attention solely toward tasks that generate income. Among the BPA’s examples of functions are automated support for:
- Distribution and logistics – Automated labeling, tracking, and shipment routing are a few examples.
- Sales and marketing – Automated marketing emails, sales presentations, sales tracking, and reports are a few examples.
- IT and technical services – Automated maintenance and status reports, ticketing and problem-solving processes, and automated self-service reports are a few examples.
- Administrative tasks – Automated payroll functions from time tracking to tax withholding calculations to payment processing are two examples. Automated HR functions include employee benefits enrollment and distribution tracking.
RPA, a type of BPA that uses programmable software “robots” to carry out repetitive tasks, is one-third cheaper than hiring an offshore employee and one-fifth cheaper than hiring an onshore employee. While BPA is intended to restructure the entire process made up of those tasks, RPA is a subset of BPA that focuses more on sets of time-consuming human tasks.
BPA is frequently used by professionals in the finance sector to boost productivity, compliance, and efficiency. According to Gartner, 80% of finance leaders either currently use or plan to use RPA, with the top applications being contract management and accounts payable.
Organizations that provide customer service frequently use BPA and RPA. Both are frequently used in the customer service sector as “tactical and short-term approaches to digitize common agent tasks,” according to market research firm Forrester. Obtaining customer data, customer conversation logs from various channels, information about purchased products, suggested problem-solving techniques for those products, and escalation scripting are all common agent tasks (moving an irate customer up the chain for management to deal with).
Business process automation is frequently used by human resources departments to streamline and expedite employee onboarding and employee-facing self-service resources like employee benefit options, information, training, and registrations.
Types of Business Process Automation
Business automation eliminates repetitive tasks, cuts down on time wasted on unnecessary tasks, and helps to increase overall productivity by “automating” some business processes. A growing number of businesses are incorporating more and more business automation into their operations due to these and other factors.
Here are four different kinds of business automation, how they function, and when to use them.
Marketing is a crucial business activity that can be time-consuming and expensive, making automation a viable option for simplification.
Companies can produce highly qualified leads that are prepared for sales engagement using marketing automation tools, which typically take the form of software. Additionally, these tools offer a framework for teams to target, create, implement, and assess the success of marketing campaigns, simplifying the lead qualification and conversion process.
Email marketing procedures can be automated by some marketing automation software, enabling businesses to better coordinate these campaigns with the efforts of their sales teams. Additionally, businesses can use marketing automation tools to track and monitor a prospect’s activity, determine when a lead satisfies known buyer-readiness requirements, and deliver leads to sales as soon as they do.
All sizes of businesses can benefit from marketing automation. For instance, a smaller business might use the software to create, produce, and send out monthly emails to a client distribution list with pertinent content or offers. The number of hours spent on customer “touches” over the course of a year can be significantly decreased by using this process.
A larger company, on the other hand, might want to benefit from more extensive marketing automation features, such as the dynamic segmenting of a sizable customer database, the targeting of consumers with automated messages via social media and text, or specially designed workflows that complement the firm’s unique marketing procedures.
Companies can lower the cost of creating and maintaining online marketing and lead generation campaigns by automating these campaigns. As a result, each of those campaigns has a higher, quantifiable return on investment (ROI).
Accounting and Bookkeeping Automation
Companies can save a lot of time on accounts receivable (AR), accounts payable (AP), billing, collections, credit card applications, data backup, and other financial processes that need to be managed on a daily or weekly basis by automating their accounting and bookkeeping functions.
They can automate crucial procedures like bank account management, general ledger (GL) management, and bookkeeping. Automation makes a complex process more manageable by eliminating the manual components from the accounting team’s work and handling the transactional and number-crunching work.
Consider the management of accounts payable. The majority of businesses—about 55%—still manage their AP procedures by hand. For this particular area of business finance management, using an automated system saves money and time because data capture is automated, invoices are automatically matched to documents, and approvals are routed electronically. Through a system of “touchless” controls that take place in the background, it also lowers data errors and aids in preventing fraud.
When combined, these features yield significant advantages. Software for AP automation minimizes manual tasks and improves cash flow. Through a single platform, teams can submit invoices, manage approvals, and process payments with quick approvals, better visibility, and control over crucial financial processes and data.
Accounting is a time-consuming process with numerous manual steps for businesses of all sizes. Businesses can free up time for crucial tasks like analysis, strategy, and teamwork by automating some or all of those steps.
Business process automation (BPA) expands on simple automation by integrating various applications to help businesses increase productivity and value. Robotic process automation (RPA), a subset of business process automation (BPA), focuses on automating repetitive tasks while BPA helps businesses maximize their automation investments. BPA accomplishes this by combining data from various sources to create analyses that would be challenging to complete manually.
Businesses use BPA for things like:
- electronic order entry
- automation of email
- automatically processing batches
- electronic file transfers
- automated distribution and report generation
Nearly every aspect of a business’s operations, from hiring to email management to accounting, would benefit from BPA, which not only eliminates manual labor but also streamlines and enhances the workflow steps that make up the process. An entire step in the current workflow, such as email chains and document transfers, is removed when a business process is automated.
A multi-step process, hiring new employees begins with an online job ad or recruitment effort and ends with the employee being formally onboarded. This process has many steps that can be automated.
In order to do this, a human resources management system (HRMS) is a useful tool. These systems automate the candidate management process as a component of a wider range of functionalities. This specifically relates to automated employment offers that are sent to candidates directly, which helps advertise open positions to both the public and current employees who might want to submit an application for an internal position or recommend candidates.
Companies that place a high priority on the candidate experience—from applying to managing resumes to scheduling interviews to making offers, all the way through onboarding—benefit from the use of an HRMS. With the aid of this automation, HR teams can process applications for jobs, manage payroll, look after the data of current and former employees, enhance the user provisioning procedure, and manage benefits.
Due to the fact that HRMS automates every aspect of human resources management, including payroll and onboarding, it offers comprehensive analytics for these procedures. Additionally, it automates fundamental HR procedures like scheduling leave for employees and administering benefits. These systems also offer crucial insights into the effectiveness and productivity of a company’s workforce using analytics.
Software can manage the following additional HR tasks:
- preservation and retrieval of employee records.
- examinations of online applications for jobs.
- Work contracts, confidentiality agreements, waivers, and other new hire paperwork are distributed and signed.
- managing employee tax forms.
- eligibility for benefit enrollment.
- requirements for training (e.g., when an employee moves into a new position).
HR departments, which are tasked with evaluating employees’ work, can use the system’s data to keep track of all the tasks that each employee completes and produce ready-to-use reports for managers and leaders. The business can use an HR tool to identify the precise issue and improve hiring decisions, such as if employee turnover in the warehouse has significantly increased over the past 90 days.
Why Business Process Automation is Important?
By automating business processes, bottlenecks that waste time and money are removed. Every aspect of the organization benefited from the increases in productivity and compliance, which also led to better customer service and performance.
The top 10 advantages of business process automation are listed below.
- Savings in time
Business process automation allows your staff to work more effectively and efficiently by saving a significant amount of time.
Employees can focus on work that requires critical thinking, creativity, or the human touch by charging machines with completing routine, rule-based tasks.
- Boosted earnings
While routine operations are essential to the operation of every business, they do not add value for your clients. Therefore, manually carrying out these processes frequently results in lost revenue.
Businesses can boost their profitability with business process automation by giving routine tasks to machines and spending more time on tasks that benefit their clients.
- Increased output
The productivity of businesses that use technology to automate procedures rises as well. The primary explanation is that machines can complete multiple tasks at once, speeding up operations.
Employees will complete more work in the same amount of time if they use technology to assist with some of their tasks.
- Enhanced effectiveness
Businesses can complete laborious tasks with the help of business process automation. Companies increase efficiency significantly by getting results more quickly and with greater reliability at lower costs.
- Error reduction
Even the most qualified and skilled workers err. Your employees’ performance can be hampered by inattention, being distracted, being forgetful, and multitasking, especially when they are engaged in repetitive tasks.
Computers are not human; they do not forget. They also never get bored or tired. Therefore, automating processes greatly reduces the possibility of human error for businesses.
- Greater uniformity
The same processes are frequently carried out by different employees in unique ways. But regrettably, these approaches aren’t always the most effective.
Automation solutions, on the other hand, always adhere to the same procedures to finish tasks and never deviate from the guidelines you define. As a result, business process automation can assist you in standardizing procedures, obtaining repeatable outcomes, and enhancing organizational transparency.
- Auditable documents
Every stage of the process is documented by automation solutions in an audit trail. As a result, it is possible to:
Follow the entire process to see who did what and when.
Audit trails help organizations show their compliance with official controls and promote accountability and data security.
- Increased adherence
Regulation compliance is made easier by automation. Automation solutions assist businesses in complying with the GDPR’s data protection requirements by implementing security controls like encryption and role-based access control.
Additionally, features like automatic data deletion make it possible for businesses to adhere to their legal obligations for data retention.
- Excellent customer service
For today’s consumers, accessibility to goods and services quickly and conveniently is crucial.
Faster response times, data-driven personalization, and consistency across channels are made possible by business process automation. This enhances the customer experience and assists businesses in standing out from the competition.
- Increased scaling
Manual procedures are not flexible enough to support business expansion. For instance, manually billing 100 clients requires a lot more resources than billing only 10, and businesses frequently struggle to keep up.
However, automated procedures can be scaled. Machines are much faster than humans at handling multiple tasks at once.
They can therefore cope with substantial increases in workload, demand, and customer base with ease.
Disadvantages of Automation in Business
Today’s society includes automation. Automation can be a great tool for both people and businesses when used correctly. It can help you complete work more accurately while also saving time and money. The expense of replacing human labor with automated systems is one of automation’s drawbacks. The following are some additional drawbacks of automation:
- Worker displacement is automation’s biggest drawback because it eliminates jobs for people. This is due to the fact that a computerized task can be completed more quickly and accurately than a human could. For instance, Disney World has been ferrying visitors around the park for years using autonomous vehicles. Many people worry that this will lead to a decrease in human employment.
- Large capital investment is required – Automation has long been a mainstay of industry. However, before making the switch to automation, manufacturers must consider a few unintended consequences. The requirement for significant capital expenditures to maintain and service automated systems is one of these effects. Additionally, because these systems are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than manual systems would be, businesses may become exposed if their infrastructure is not adequately secured.
- Can become redundant – Automation is a practical fix for a lot of issues. However, if a change is made that necessitates modifying the automation, this convenience may become unnecessary. These kinds of adjustments could end up costing the company valuable time and resources while only serving to increase workload.
- Could create new safety risks – When operating conditions change unexpectedly, automation could create new risks. For instance, even if a driverless car is programmed to drive autonomously, it is still possible for it to crash when a pedestrian steps out into the road in less-than-ideal circumstances (dark, poor visibility, etc.).
- still needs human assistance – Even though the general advantages of automation have been established, some tasks still call for human involvement. We’ll use the self-driving car example from earlier. These vehicles can be programmed to stop when they detect the majority of roadside obstructions. However, under certain circumstances, such as when a barrier is not clearly visible to the car’s sensor, these machines may misinterpret data and result in undesirable outcomes.
Automating the Business Process can help you save time and money in your business. By automating the business process, you can improve business efficiency, reduce costs, and improve your business operation. Automating the Business Process can also help you save time and money in the long run. Overall, automation is a powerful tool that can benefit your business in many ways.