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What Is Business Process Automation?

Home / Future Sight / What Is Business Process Automation?
18th October 2022
11 Minute Read

Ensuring that an organization’s processes run smoothly and efficiently is a vital goal. The delays and inefficiencies caused by human error, system incompatibilities, and manual processing will have immediate repercussions not only on the bottom line but with customer retention too.

Business process automation started during the 1980s and although there has been a considerable lag in take-up, most organizations now understand the importance of efficient business systems to stay ahead of the competition. In fact, uptake in the BPA market is now running at 10% year-on-year, so the penny has dropped with management teams, as they realize that the ROI makes take-up a no brainer.

 

But what exactly is Business Process Automation (BPA)?

It’s just human nature that different teams in an organization want to personalize the way they develop their own processes. The problems arise when they need to communicate their information with another department, which has also fostered individuality in their setup.

This is where the benefits of BPA are truly revealed, as it helps to streamline processes and improve communication, while at the same time enhancing efficiency and cost efficiency. BPA is a true case of working smarter, providing accountability, beneficial insights, and less wasted time, enabling staff to concentrate on activities that add value.

Using advanced technology, a whole range of business processes can be executed with virtually no human intervention. By digitizing business processes using BPA, companies can automate repetitive tasks or activities, thereby creating a uniform goal. Examples include streamlining purchase orders, or the considerable administration involved in onboarding a new employee.

 

What is a Business Process?

Business processes have been likened to the backbone of any organization and every department will have its own set. They create the structure and aid the communication of the vital parts of the business operation. Business processes are created to derive and contribute to organizational goals.

Put simply, a business process is a series of steps that are interlinked. These steps can be likened to a checklist of the best practice and methods of how the organization is run. As each step is accomplished you can be sure the required qualitative and quantitative corporate standards are maintained.

 A business process is a collection of tasks and activities that when performed by people or systems in a structured plan, contribute to business goals. The actual structure of business processes is varied, they can be simple or complex, determined by the number of the elements making up the process. However, it’s important that a company’s business processes are aligned as much as possible to optimize business performance.

There are several attributes that define a business process. These separate it from an everyday business task or activity:

  • a process is repeatable
  • a process is flexible and not rigid
  • a process is specific, with a beginning and end point
  • a process is measurable

There are three fundamental groups of processes that exist in any organization:

Primary processes

A primary process is involved in delivering an end product or service to the customer. Each element of a primary process aims to add value to the final sale.

Support processes

The goal of a support process is to cultivate an environment, where the primary processes can operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. Secondary processes support the day-to-day operations of an organization. The support processes don’t aim to add value but instead act as a support structure for the operation of the primary processes.

Management processes

Strategy and organizational governance are controlled under the umbrella of management processes. This set of processes creates the aims and standards on which the primary and support processes operate.

Management processes are wide-ranging, encompassing operational planning, strategic planning, as well as functions to monitor and control the efficiency of primary and secondary processes.

An example business process could include:

Dealing with customer complaints, which involves the following sequential elements:

  • receive a customer complaint
  • acknowledge concern to the customer
  • log details of the issue on the CRM system
  • resolve the issue
  • communicate final status to the customer

 

Why are Business Processes important?

Business processes have always been the lifeblood of any organization or company. Historically they were managed by manual, paper systems, which were eventually superseded by digitized systems. The latest evolution of business process management involves digital transformation, where many of the tasks are automated. A well-designed system that is aligned with the corporate strategy will benefit an organization in numerous ways:

Better efficiency

The elements and steps of a business process are clearly defined, making it easier to follow through the steps in the best order. This improves time management and accountability at the same time. Adopting a culture of business processes renders each task down to the most efficient method in terms of cost and time management.

Reduced human error

By working with a structured business process the possibility of human error is reduced. Each step is clearly defined in terms of content and chronology, creating a better environment for accuracy.

More effective customer focus

Information about the customers’ requirements is constantly updated. So, the company is more alert to the customer’s sales history and future needs.     

Team collaboration

The collective goals of business processes naturally create a culture of inclusivity and collaboration. In a team, staff better understand their common goals, along with the cultivation of an environment for how the systems can be continually improved.

Evolving technology

Improvements in IT technology are rapidly improving the speed, accuracy, and reach of business process strategies. Most existing systems are adaptable, enabling the take-up of more efficient systems as they emerge.

 

What are the Benefits of Automating Business Processes?

Improved efficiency and timesaving

In most organizations, there are numerous operational tasks, which can be easily automated sequentially. Human input is kept to an absolute minimum with its attendant timesaving. Flexibility is built into the software so that it can identify errors and correct them, as well as anticipate and identify bottlenecks to keep the workflow as efficient as possible.

More Accurate Data Management

Manual data entry or filing physical documents accurately can be fraught with errors. With a streamlined, automated set of business processes, the efficiency and effectiveness of transfer and storage are vastly improved.

The organization and retrieval of data are simplified and at the same time, confidential data access can be limited using role-based accounts. Consequently, stored data is more accurate, retrievable, and secure leading to better all-around productivity.

Improved customer service

BPA is designed to streamline the customer experience by adhering to the service level agreements and quality assurance standards the organization upholds.

Customers are much more likely to experience support in a timely and more effective manner when the processes are automated. There is less chance of human error, as the communication between the customer and the organization is rationalized.

Cost reduction

Manual business processes are often inefficient leading to wasted resources. In addition, errors need to be corrected, wasting more time. With BPA the initial design and setup costs are optimized upfront while operating costs are minimized.

Better staff morale

BPA ensures all staff are working from the same blueprint. This increases transparency and consequently reduces disagreements. Staff feel empowered as there are no grey areas that can lead to friction, which encourages positivity and efficiency.

The resulting saved time frees up staff to identify how the existing business processes can be further improved, creating a virtuous cycle of development. 

Better compliance

An organization’s compliance with legal and industry regulations is often a complex but necessary obligation. The penalties for non-compliance are costly. The specific design of BPA makes it an ideal solution to encompass the minutiae of compliance regulation.

The accountability of the BPA setup ensures that each step of the process is logged with the name of the person responsible, their input, and the timeline. These summary logs are collated automatically and can be referred to prove compliance or retrieved if an audit trail is required.

Accountability and transparency

BPA enables staff to see and monitor processes, which makes it much easier to keep abreast of overall assignments.

Automation is also ideally placed to create feedback dashboards, which highlight key performance indicators and can also generate in-depth feedback on performance and how the systems can be improved.

 

What Does Business Process Automation (BPA) Mean For Companies?

In the early days of BPA, there was resistance from some staff who saw it as a slippery slope to the elimination of employees. However, the reality has proved to be very different, where staff feel more valued because their opinions on their local business processes are a vital part of the BPA strategy.

With an adaptable BPA strategy, an organization takes the reins once more, where each department’s business processes are streamlined and connected to other relevant departments’ systems. The benefits of this streamlining include improved communication and better customer satisfaction. The time saved in this streamlining enables staff to concentrate on their most important tasks, rather than mundane and repetitive ones.

In the corporate and small business world, BPA has led to several benefits:

Productivity

The rapid growth of desktop productivity software has improved performance in offices and HR departments but at the cost of a much larger workload for the IT department. With more users and more jobs, the IT system is put under evermore strain, especially with production batch jobs.

By automating with job scheduling software, the throughput of batches is speeded up by reducing the lag time between batches and minimizing operator intervention. This can make processing much more efficient and, in the process, reduces the workload on the IT system.

Automated backup

These days every department in an organization is reliant on the IT department. It’s bad enough if a system crashes but if the backup has failed as well the situation quickly becomes critical. BPA is ideally placed to generate timely and authentic backups, to eliminate the human error that is so often the cause.

Reliability

Improved productivity is often touted as the prime benefit of automation and it certainly has its place, however, reliability in a department is arguably just as important. As part of their schedule, most departments always have an element of tedious, repetitive, and error-prone input work.

Errors are bad enough when the organization is at a single location but when there is a network of multiple systems, which are spread throughout the country the potential for much larger errors is clear.

An automated software system functions reliably, relieving operations personnel from hours of tedious, boring, and manual tasks.

Reducing costs

In challenging times organizations are continually searching to reduce their costs to improve profitability. BPA works to reduce costs on several different levels, including optimizing employee work time. Automation can eliminate the need for employees to carry out routine data entry tasks, leaving them free to concentrate on their core work and improving their department systems.

Additionally, most business processing tasks, such as invoicing, can also be automated, which can produce significant savings in the long term. Finally, business automation enables organizations to have a constantly updated snapshot of the state of their finances. These figures can be used for planning, safe in the knowledge that they are accurate.

What is the difference between BPA and RPA?

Business process automation (BPA) involves the use of technology to execute recurring tasks or processes in an organization, which saves staff time. It is done to minimize costs, increase efficiency, improve accuracy, and streamline business processes.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a technology that mimics the way humans interact with software to perform high-volume, repeatable tasks. It is used in many industries, particularly those that have many repetitive tasks such as banking, finance, insurance, and healthcare. RPA software or bots can log into applications, perform data input, complete tasks, and copy data between applications or workflow.

 

What Is BPM and what is the difference to BPA? 

Business process management (BPM) is a holistic approach to optimizing process efficiency. It involves a comprehensive approach but one that is not dependent on automation. Instead, the emphasis is on designing, modeling, deploying, monitoring, and optimizing company-wide business processes. The overall aim is to gain maximum productivity and efficiency in day-to-day activities.

With BPA the emphasis is solely on the use of technology, where manual repetitive business process tasks are automated. BPA aims to decrease the number of manual tasks, leading to better efficiency and productivity.

BPA simplifies through technical solutions that automate. This helps the workforce to restructure time to more important issues while routine work is completed in much quicker courtesy of automation.

 Business Process Automation concentrates on decreasing the number of manual tasks. This leads to higher efficiency and productivity.

 

Example Tasks BPA can help with:

A couple of examples where BPA can significantly assist organizations include:

Automated marketing communication

Businesses constantly need to find new markets and customers, which can be a time-consuming manual operation. However, with the use of marketing automation software, the marketing department can deploy many more prospective communications using email, social media, and websites which result in sales leads.

IT support

It’s not unusual for the IT support department of an organization to have a backlog of requests, which build up in no particular order. In this context, BPA is a particularly appropriate solution as the software can automatically evaluate and classify each request and route it to the best adviser. In this way, critical requests, such as a compliance breach are given the priority they deserve.

 

Why Have Lolly Help With BPA? 

Expansion in an organization is often limited by the inefficiencies of manual processes. This is where the services of an established software automation company, such as Lolly.co, can free up processing potential through automation.

Lolly.co produces automation software that is easy-to-use

Software that is accessible to all users, which saves time and improves reliability.

Lolly.co BPA projects are project managed and quality assurance tested

Software developers work with project managers and then quality assurance testers verify the software.

Outrun the competition

Lolly.co software is designed with flexibility running through it, so changes to your systems can be easily accommodated.

Lower your costs with our ROI price promise

Through precise planning, it’s possible to generate accurate estimates of automation cost. The project will only proceed if the ROI stacks up.

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