3 steps to implement Business Process Automation
Business Process Automation - what it is all about?
Do all activities and processes in the company have to be performed by a human? Not necessarily. An algorithm can handle many of them effectively. How to put the software to work? Business Process Automation is the answer.
What is Business Process Automation (BPA)?
BPA is the use of technology to automate routine business processes that are normally carried out manually. These can be, for example: sending e-mail offers to customers, preparing contracts and reports, verifying data, as well as carrying out more complex activities.
The most frequently repeated activities are automated to increase the speed of their execution, accuracy, uniformity and relieve employees. BPA can be applied to most processes in companies, such as: sales, purchasing, finance, HR, product development or logistics.
Business process automation is essential to drive the digital transformation of your business. Digitization itself, in turn, is now essential for the company to remain competitive.
BPA vs other technologies
Business Process Automation is often compared to RPA, i.e. Robotic Process Automation. While BPA focuses on entire processes and workflow, RPA is about automating individual tasks.
Scripts (also known as bots) in RPA imitate tasks previously performed by a human. This can be, for example, logging into the application, sending an e-mail, copying and pasting data or validating items in the system. Each bot is responsible for one task, which is carefully documented before programming.
RPA is suitable for simple activities based on clear procedures and involving structured, consistent data. It will not work for tasks that are driven by changing procedures and inputs. We will not optimize end-to-end processes in this way.
Another method worth mentioning is BPM, i.e. Business Process Management. BPM is in fact a superior category over BPA, as process automation also needs to be managed. There is an emphasis on strategy, without identifying tools or software systems.
BPM may be used for processes such as standardization of sales strategies, improvement of service quality or customer experience, or optimization of inventory management. Automation may be the means to achieve the goals set by BPM.
How BPA is implemented?
Before we start the BPA implementation process, we need to define our business goals. We should know what we want to achieve thanks to automation, e.g. increased sales or employee productivity. Then we go to the steps below.
1. Choice of processes and tools
Automation should not be applied automatically. While in most aspects of the company's operation there will be processes that can be automated, it is not worth doing it in every case. It is worth asking employees where BPA should be implemented.
You should also not bite off more than you can chew, wanting to automate the entire company at once. It's a good idea to start with the simplest and most repeatable processes, and then expand the scope of automation.
At this stage, we also select tools to conduct BPA. It is not an easy task because there are so many of them on the market. The focus should be on the convenience of the tools as well as their usability and scalability. Here it should be up to the IT team to decide. In many cases, it will be advisable to commission a software house to create dedicated tools for specific processes, because those available may turn out to be mismatched to the specifics of our company's operation.
2. Preparing the team for change.
Some employees may feel unprepared for automation, for example fearing that algorithms will rob them of their jobs. Explain its purpose to them, pointing to an increase in their productivity thanks to the optimization of processes consisting in performing repetitive activities. In the time they save on them, they will be able to take on tasks that require a "human hand" (and mind).
Then the team must be trained comprehensively. They should learn how to use tools and understand how the processes will proceed after the implementation of automation. New roles should also be established as the tasks facing employees will change.
The automation process is never fully completed. We must constantly monitor its performance to see if it contributes to our business goals. As there are many tools for BPA, we should evaluate the ones we have chosen in terms of their effectiveness. Perhaps it makes sense to replace them with other ones or to modify the settings. As we mentioned, an alternative to using ready-made tools is to commission the creation of tools specially designed for a given project.
The advantages of implementing BPA
- savings and profits
Thanks to automation, employees are more productive and can concentrate on tasks where human intervention is necessary. This can translate into higher profits. We will also not have to unnecessarily employ additional people to perform repetitive activities as the company grows.
- lowering the risk
Man can be fallible, while properly programmed algorithms do not have this drawback. By excluding the risk of employee error, we ensure greater security for the entire organization.
- acceleration of processes
Algorithms perform activities incomparably faster than humans. This can optimize the performance of the entire company and increase profits. The use of e.g. artificial intelligence mechanisms, may mean much more efficient decision-making thanks to the analysis of large amounts of data. It is used in strategic planning, competition analysis, granting loans and insurance.
- regulatory compliance
If we adjust the algorithm to operate in accordance with the newly introduced regulations, it will always respect them. A person may not keep up with the changing regulations and out of habit use those that are out of date. This puts the organization at risk of penalties.
- better customer service
The use of chatbots in customer service using instant messaging allows you to optimize the use of this channel (which is becoming more and more popular). Bots are able to answer frequently asked questions and even guide the customer through the purchase process. Thanks to them, the client gains access to instant service and consultants can focus only on conversations during which human participation is necessary.
Automation pays off
Thanks to BPA, the company can optimize business processes, reduce failure rates, and improve compliance and employee productivity. This translates into greater team satisfaction (which does not have to perform frustrating, repetitive activities), reducing business risk or improving the company's competitiveness.
Implementing process automation is not easy, but it is worth the effort. Especially since there is, in fact, no turning back from digitization. Companies are computerizing en masse. This is no longer the future of business, but the present.