What Is Business Process Automation (BPA)?
Business process automation is the process of using technology to replace manual effort for recurring tasks or processes within a business. The prime purpose to automate processes is to streamline processes, minimize costs and increase efficiency. This should not be confused with methodologies or processes used within an organization for business process management.
Business Process Automation Examples
Here are a few use cases of business process automation for better understanding:
1. Invoice Processing
Invoice processing is the process performed by the accounts payable department within an organization. This process involves several steps for managing vendor or supplier invoiced starting from receipt of invoice to processing of payment. This process may sound easy, but it can get really complicated as the organization grows and can cause loss of revenue if significant time is not spent doing this right. A few issues that can arise with lack of automation include:
- Errors in procedures while receiving invoices.
- Too much time consumption due to labor-intensive processes of manually checking and verifying invoices.
- Monitoring on paper invoices
- Invoice approvals taking a longer time
- Duplication of invoices
- Missing or incorrect data entry
Applying business process automation in your invoice processing will take care of repetitive manual tasks which can result in delayed and incorrect payments. Timely payments will also improve the service provided t and by vendors. In short, RPA can automate the end-to-end processes, right from receipt of the invoice to processing of payment.
2. Purchase Orders
Purchase orders are one of the most common and recurring processes in a lot of organizations. The purchaser fills out the purchase form and sends it to the vendor that processes the purchase. Within the organization, the approving authority generally examines the request and approves or rejects the request based on the information filled and budget allocation. If the purchase order is approved, copies of the same are sent to the Vendor as well as the inventory team.
Without automation, the following issues could crop up:
- Delays in approval of Purchase Orders
- Impact on overall productivity (due to the delay)
- Incomplete records
- Errors in making the purchase orders
- Errors while taking delivery of the supplies
Business process automation improves overall accountability and transparency. It also ensures accurate data capturing. This data can then be reviewed by relevant stakeholders as and when required. Automation also retains the end-to-end process-related communication within the workflow to make execution easier and faster.
Why Should You Automate Business Processes?
Here are some key benefits if automating your business processes.
Probably one of the most important and great benefits of business process automation is streamlined business processes. Clear communication ensures accountability. Customized notifications provide valuable insights and faster turnaround times due to automation make it easier to eliminate non-essential activities and focus on enhancing tasks that add value.
Business process automation creates a simple Workflow that reduces the amount of time needed to complete a task. This in turn results in increased productivity rates for everyday recurring tasks, with an additional benefit of freeing up employees’ time to focus on more complex and revenue-generating activities and providing better customer service.
In order to automate any process, you need to have a very precise understanding of all the tasks and responsible parties involved within the process. It will be close to impossible to design an automated process without this clarity. Hence when to start automating, process mapping provides clarity to all employees and serves as a training resource as well. The inputs you get from automated process analysis can clearly show you the gap between your existing process as is and as it should ideally be.
When a business process is automated, the outcomes are consistent and standard every time. This standardization helps in you being able to position your organization as consistent and reliable, which in turn helps in increase your customer base.
Customer satisfaction as we all know is the backbone of growth in any industry. With processes automated, it’s easier to achieve operational excellence that eventually helps you not only achieve but exceed customer expectations. With consistency in keeping customers happy, they develop a preference for your company and bring more business through referrals.
What Type Of Business Processes You Should Automate?
You cannot automate everything, however, at the same time, its not just some functions that can be automated. Below are few factors that should be considered for automation:
- High-volume (transactions) 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 best for you to automate your business process.
To give you a clear understanding, here are some commonly automated processes in organizations.
- Helpdesk support
- Finance and Accounts
- Data migration
- Backup and restoration
- Human Resource Management
- Call Center Processes
- Sales orders
- Time and attendance tracking
- Lead nurturing