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How To Implement Business Process Automation

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10th November 2022
7 Minute Read

What is business process automation?

 

Business process automation (BPA) uses specifically designed software to automate repeatable, complex business transactions. BPA shares automation with other applications but BPA solutions are usually more complex and typically operate integrated into data systems.

The complexity of BPA solutions means they must be designed specifically for a company’s system. As part of their digital transformation strategy companies use BPA to streamline workflows and improve overall efficiency. So, BPA can often work in conjunction with other automation applications such as RPA and BPM.

 

Examples of business process automation

 

The application of BPA spans many industries and departments. These are just a few functions to illustrate its dexterity:

 

Purchase order requests

Purchase order (PO) requests in most businesses are standardized and repeatable, hence ideal for automation. Normally when a request is submitted, it is approved based on several criteria and forwarded to the supplier. However, if the criteria are not met it is returned to the originator for clarification.

In many cases, PO requests are identical each time, and BPA is ideally placed to approve such orders, saving significant man-hours required to complete, approve, and dispatch the orders. BPA also has an analytical role, where it can consolidate all the PO data and rationalize communication.

 

Management of social media

Marketing can be particularly labor-intensive and often the returns are never guaranteed. So, BPA is ideal for organizing social media, where posts are organized and scheduled well in advance.

 

Hiring and onboarding employees

Recruitment is another task that requires a lot of human input. The bureaucratic demands are extensive with plenty of form filling and creating documents, while the interpersonal demands involve organizing training sessions, liaising with mentors, and booking meetings. 

Employing BPA, forms can be filled and delivered, training sessions and meetings scheduled, and many other tasks organized to make the best use of available time.

 

How to plan for Business Process Automation

 

 Identify the activities needing to be automated

In selecting activities for BPA, it is useful to use a screening device, which helps to highlight those that would demonstrate the most benefit from automation. In any BPA application there need to be enough activities included to make it worthwhile, but not so many that the task becomes overwhelming.

When thinking about possible activities for automation it’s worth assessing each on the following criteria:

  • Impact on the business – what value will BPA and to this process?
  • Process maturity – what is the current insight into the process?
  • Existing integration – what is the current state of integration and process flows?

By quantifying each activity using the three screening questions, it’s possible to demonstrate and rank the best candidates for automation.

 

Decide your business automation goals

When effectively applied in an organization, BPA will improve efficiency, accuracy, and compliance, while at the same time reducing costs. It can also help to improve the efficiency in human-related departments such as human resources and customer service.

When evaluating the benefits of BPA, it is vital to learn how it will affect the specific business goals of your company. It’s necessary to question, which workflows need to be automated? Or, which set of performance results needs to be improved?

 

Select the Appropriate BPA Tool

By the nature of their size, larger corporations repeatedly fall into the trap of retaining large volumes of fragmented data on databases and legacy systems. Often this data remains redundant, as the manpower or technology isn’t available to convert it into highly usable information.

This sleeping giant of knowledge remains unused when it could be used profitably in analytical business applications. Any company neglecting to utilize this free resource will soon fall behind the competition.

Using a scalable, flexible BPA tool such as SolveXia can help to transform data systems, creating data, which is meaningful and actionable. Managers can act on the results with the confidence of accurate and verified figures.

Managers are constantly confronted with changing markets and an enormous tide of data and can only hope to prove their worth by improving productivity and differentiating their products from competitors. Employing BPA can create a synergy that combines the human skills of the manager’s vision with the insight of existing data.

 

Guide your staff through the changes

Once the activities to be automated are established, the goals of automation are set, and the software, such as SolveXia decided then the BPA project management team can be recruited to oversee the implementation. Establishing the right team will give insight into the business processes involved, as well as the users and data.

The project team will usually include:

 

Directors, team members, and management

Involved in day-to-day operations these staff members offer valuable insight into the business processes. Their input can include information such as how data is processed currently, how long it takes, and the type of problems they have to overcome. Their ideas on how the process of this information could be improved are also very valuable.

 

BPA project manager

There is usually just one project manager although on major projects there are maybe two. A large part of the project manager’s role is to act as a communicator between the IT department and the rest of the project team. It is up to the project manager to organize meetings between all stakeholders to provide updates on progress and to field any questions.

 

IT specialist

Depending on the complexity of the software used in the project the IT specialist could be the in-house IT manager or he could be an external specialist in the chosen software system. After implementation, the IT specialist will continue to maintain the system and advise on extending it to other business processes.

 

Monitor, take notes, and measure

Following the implementation of the BPA system, it is important to be able to quantify how well it is working compared to the initial forecasts. The measurement of success is quantified using BPA success metrics.

The definition of success metrics can take place in the planning stage of the BPA, or they can be established afterward. The metrics you choose are defined by the industry you work in and your company’s specific goals. Some of the most tracked metrics include:

 

Return on Investment

This metric compares the business process cost before the implementation of BPA with the cost afterward. All relevant costs and fees need to be part of the calculation.

 

Efficiency

Efficiency metrics are usually time-based, where the time taken for processes before BPA and after are compared. One of the main aims of BPA is to speed up processing, so this is an outcome to define.

 

Accuracy

Often BPA systems can be customized so the process meets set standards for accuracy and compliance. BPA should result in fewer errors.

 

Reliability

Any new BPA system should be reliable and work consistently. If there are any stoppages, they can impact efficiency significantly.

The choice of the metrics will depend on the industry, but the overall aim is to track ROI and the efficiency of the BPA software.

 

Why should you implement business process automation?

 

Cost efficiency

Companies that automate their processes through technology routinely see an increase in productivity and cost efficiency. Automation can run 24/7, is faster than humans, and can handle multiple tasks all at the same time. With improved productivity, cost efficiency is also increased.

 

Error reduction

Human error occurs for many reasons, lack of attention, boredom, and forgetfulness. It is particularly prevalent in mundane, repeated tasks where it is difficult to maintain concentration. BPA software has none of these human weaknesses and can perform error-free tasks endlessly.

 

Employee satisfaction

As BPA liberates employees from the menial element of their job description, they can turn their attention to more satisfying and productive tasks. Routine and boring tasks that still need to be completed are handled by BPA. In customer service, sales, and human resources roles employees can spend more time dealing face-to-face with clients creating value for the company.

 

Digital transformation

Digital transformation can have a profound effect on a company’s ability to maintain a competitive advantage. This takes place by using enhanced technology to improve capabilities, efficiency, and the customer’s experience.

 

Final Thoughts

 

A well-implemented BPA system should bring many benefits to the company and is seen as a vital element of digital transformation. However, it shouldn’t be underestimated that the time and cost of such a system is going to be significant, with the ROI taking some time to recoup.

 

BPA by its nature tends to restructure the workplace by taking over low-skill tasks and so the employees previously occupied in such jobs need to be retrained, so their job descriptions can be upgraded. With the evolution of further automation, the workplace will need to adapt as job categories fundamentally change.

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