Business process automation (BPA) is the automation of business processes through technology, allowing businesses to cut costs and increase productivity.When you hear the words “automation,” the first thing that comes to your mind are robots building cars (and stealing your jobs). That’s Industrial Automation, however, and is completely different from BPA. While IA focuses on automating physical human labor (assembling products, for example), BPA means automating processes and workflows (document approval process, employee onboarding process, etc.).To give you a better idea of how business process automation works, we’ll get into more detail on what it is, what your business can gain from it, and how to implement it in your organization.
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What is Business Process Automation (BPA)?BPA is a means of automating recurring business processes through the use of software & different app integrations. Meaning, instead of having your employees to menial & simple tasks, you just let the software take care of it.While that’s a bit of a broad definition (making software do a thing), here are some specific examples of how BPA can work…Customer Support – If you own any kind of website, you probably have some sort of customer support software set up. While the software tends to differ in functionality, most of them allow you to automate responses to customers. For example, if your software has problems with users logging in through LinkedIn, and that’s 90% of customer tickets. You can just create an automatic response to any message that has “LinkedIn” mentioned, saying that it’s a known issue and will soon be solved. This allows your support team to attend to tickets that are less-known.Approval Management – Let’s say you’re working in procurement & are ordering the new machinery. For the order to be completed, it has to go through the approval of 5 different general managers. Without automation, you’d have to hunt down each management member & ask for signatures. With approval management software, all you have to do is click “start the approval process.”Employee Onboarding – Whatever your industry is, you’ve probably done employee onboarding before. The process is usually very structured (Fill in Document A, B, Email person C, etc.) – so rather than doing the whole thing from scratch, you can let workflow management software lead the entire process.And here’s a kicker – the examples we mentioned above are just a handful. Chances are, whatever your business process is, it can be automated if it’s a) repetitive, and b) involves a series of predictable steps.Business Process Automation can either be completely stand-alone (automating several company processes) or be part of a larger initiative, such as…
- Business Process Improvement (BPI) – finding lackluster processes and improving them. In BPI, automation can either be a big part of it (overall improvement through automation), or just a tiny puzzle piece (automating a step in a process).
- Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) – BPR works just about the same as BPI, with the main difference being that it focuses on tearing down and rebuilding processes from scratch. Automation tends to play a big part in BPR initiatives; in most cases, if you’re completely re-designing a process, it’s because of new technologies.
- Business Process Management (BPM) – BPM is a methodology of continuous improvement – unlike BPI or BPR, both of which are one-time initiatives, BPM is something a company does systematically. Accordingly, BPA can play a part in streamlining and automating old processes.
Top 3 Benefits of Business Process AutomationYou might still be on the fence about whether BPA is for your or not – and we get you. It’s still (more or less) a new concept, and there are some popular misconceptions on the topic. You’ve probably even heard that it’s not worthwhile – that it’s very hard and expensive to implement.That might have actually been true around 10 years ago when legacy software was both expensive and hard to install, even with a team of IT specialists. Today, however, automation is a lot simpler. Most automation software is readily available online, and it’s something you can install and use without any guidance.Today, there are essentially no drawbacks to adopting BPA software – the word “automation” itself is synonymous with efficiency. The more of your business you manage to automate, the more your employees will be able to focus on work that matters. Meaning, successful automation can lead to…
- #1: Increasing Value Per Work – Automating useless processes means that your employees will no longer have to deal with them. Meaning, they’ll be able to focus on work that creates more value (and makes more money) for your business.
- #2: Higher Employee Satisfaction – Anyone that’s ever held a position as an intern knows that menial, robotic tasks are extremely bad for motivation & enjoyment of work. No matter how you look at it, no one’s going to enjoy doing grunt work all day. If such things can be automated, both you (see point #1) and your employees will be happier (doing more meaningful work).
- #3: Minimizing Human Error – No matter how much attention to detail your employees have, they’re still human. There’s always a small chance that someone will forget something, an email will be left unsent, etc. The consequences here can be anything between minor to catastrophic. The right software will remind you your tasks on a regular basis.