A guide to Business Process Automation
Are you spending hours repeating the same tasks? Office workers spend 69 days a year on administrative tasks. You might be wishing for a simpler way to get those jobs done.
An increasing number of businesses are relying on automation tools to take those repetitive tasks off their plate. In fact, 67% of businesses said that software solutions would be important to remain competitive.
So, how will our workforce change with business process automation? And how will your business develop as the digital transformation era makes things happen faster?
In this complete guide, we’ll cover:
- What is Business Process Automation?
- 5 Business Process Automation examples
- Customer service
- Employee onboarding
- HR onboarding
- Sales and marketing
- The benefits of Business Process Automation
- What business processes can be automated?
- Best practices with Business Process Automation
What is Business Process Automation?
Here’s a simple definition: Business Process Automation is the act of using software to make complex things simpler.
(It’s also known as BPA or BPM. The latter means Business Process Management.)
You can use BPA to cut the time you spend doing every-day tasks. For example, you can use chatbots to handle customer support queries. This uses robotic process automation (RPA). Or, you can use contract management software to get clients to put pen to paper on your deal.
How else can you use business process automation?
Business Process Automation examples
Research has found that cloud computing reduces labor costs by 50%, which is probably why 67% of accountants prefer cloud accounting.
So, how can you use an accounting automation solution in your business?
- Generate purchase orders: Purchase orders have long paper trails that can be difficult to keep track of. Prevent that from becoming a problem by automating your purchase orders. Your software creates a PO and sends it automatically for approval.
- Handle accounts payable: Automating your 'accounts payable' department can take tedious payment-related jobs off your hands. The software scans your incoming invoices, records how much you need to pay, and pays it with the click of a button.
- Send invoices: Do you send the same invoices every week or month? Use automated invoicing systems to create business rules. For example, you can invoice your client on the 1st working day of each month without having to set a reminder to do it manually.
Customer service is crucial for your business to get right. But it can take lots of human time, unless you’re taking advantage of these business process automations:
- E-mail and push notifications: Use machine learning software, like chatbots, to handle incoming messages. The technology will understand your customer inquiry, and respond within seconds. Your customers or business users don’t need to wait for a response from a human agent.
- Helpdesk support: Do you have an overwhelming log of support tickets? By automating your helpdesk, you can route tickets to different team members. For example, if someone says their query is about a billing issue, you could automatically send their ticket to a finance agent.
- Call center processes: Think about what tasksyour call center team. Chances are, they’ll send emails once they hang up the phone. Or, they’ll set reminders to contact their lead in a few days. You can automate those repetitive tasks for them to focus on money-making calls with new leads.
Lots of paperwork and decision-making is involved with bringing on a new team member. However, you can automate most of the onboarding process with automation software. Here are some use cases.
- Verify employment history: You don’t have to call a candidates’ references to verify they’ve worked there. You can automate this process using tools like PreCheck . This software scans data to find links between your candidates’ names and their past employers.
- Source candidates: Find the best candidates by automating your recruitment process. For example, you can post a job description to one profile and syndicate it to other listing websites.
- Manage contracts: Long gone are the days of posting an employment contract and waiting for your new team member to post it back. You can automate this business workflow with document signage software. It sends the document via email and automatically reminds your new team member to sign and return it. It simplifies the entire lifecycle of bringing a new team member on board.
(Some fear that automation will destroy jobs in this process. Forrester data goes against this: 10% of jobs will be lost, but 3% will be created.)
Your Human Resources teamwork with people. But that doesn’t mean they have to manually do those people-related tasks themselves. You can use the HR process automation for things like:
- Time tracking: Figure out how much money you’re making per customer (or client) by tracking time. However, you can’t always rely on team members to record their time. It’s tricky to remember! You can automate their time-tracking, and use software to break down the time you’ve spent on each activity.
- Employee leave requests: Do your staff need to send an email to submit a PTO request? Those emails can get lost. Instead, use a leave management system. This software will accept or decline requests and manage shifts based on absences.
- Monitoring attendance: Keep an eye on your staff by using an automated attendance management system. You can track their clock-in (and out) times, breaks, and time off: without spying on them yourself.
Sales and marketing
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the top growth area for sales teams, its’ adoption is expected to boost by 139% over the next 3 years. Your sales and marketing team can use business process automation for these sales and marketing activities:
- Lead nurturing: Don’t rely on sticky notes to remind you of the leads you’re nurturing. You can add them to a CRM. Then, use automation to follow-up with your leads using a premade template or social media message.
- Creating customer case studies: You can automate surveys to collect customer experience feedback. Add data processing software to pull sentiments from individual feedback submissions. From there, you can find customers likely to make the best case studies.
- A/B testing: You’re probably running A/B tests on your website to determine which elements work best. Automate that process using tools like Intellimize. They’ll automatically show variations to your visitors, and collect the real-time data to analyze. Pick the one with the best user experience metrics.
Still not convinced? This could give your business a competitive advantage. Just 28% of marketers use marketing automation software.
Benefits of Business Process Automation
The use cases we’ve shared work for any business. But they’re not just 'nice to have'. There are several ways you’ll benefit from business process automation, such as:
Increased efficiency and productivity: Your automation tools store information in the cloud. This means you can access your systems from anywhere. It’s great for remote or mobile workers who use multiple devices.
Faster turnaround: You don’t have to complete your day-to-day tasks manually. Sure, you’ll need to spend a few hours creating your automations. But you’ll save time when your software does them faster.
Cost savings: You might not think that the hours you spend doing certain tasks cost a lot in comparison to the software. But, those hours are salaried; you’re still paying each team member their hourly rate. McKinsey found that 45% of paid activities can be automated by technology. (That’s an equivalent of $2 trillion in total annual wages.)
Fewer errors: Some studies argue that computers are smarter than the human brain. In fact, Google found that customers that use custom document classification have achieved up to 96% accuracy. You’re less prone to human errors using business process automation.
Better team collaboration: With automation software, your entire team can view the processes you’re making with their own account. They won’t need to wait for a suitable time to talk about strategy. They can check the automation processes to see for themselves. Again, this is great for distributed teams who don’t have in-office communication.
Best Practices with Business Process Automation
Ready to start using business automation software?
Avoid diving in feet-first with the first application you find. Refer to these best practices to get the most value out of process workflow automations:
- Know your business’ needs, and prioritize automation software that helps with them. For example, if your focus is improving customer wait times, look at chatbot-style automations.
- Write a list of the repetitive tasks, such as data entry, you’ll be able to automate. Do this by asking your team. the people who work in a specific department day-in, day-out. Or, ask your project management team for their advice. Can you find a single process or tool to streamline most of their tasks?
- Start training your entire team on how to use the process automations. Some applications offer this type of support as part of your purchase. IBM, for example, have a Skills Gateway.
The final thing to note? Don’t rush into business process automations.
Start small and get used to how software is used. Then, ask your team for feedback. It’s better to be safe than sorry with this type of business decision, especially when your business is at stake!
Author: Matt Shealy