When a lot of business leaders hear the term "business process automation," they typically assume that they're talking about a way to take the paper-based information they're used to dealing with and convert it into PDFs for digital storage and consumption.
While this is certainly a big part of what business process automation is capable of, it's also just one small part of a much larger story.
Employee onboarding. Accounts payable. Contract management. These are the types of repeatable tasks that require a tremendous amount of time and effort on behalf of your human employees. Not only are they repeatable, but they also depend on consistency across the organization - meaning that they MUST be done in the exact same way every single time. They must also be free from errors every time, which is difficult on the best of days when you consider that "human error" will always be present when actual employees are performing these tasks.
So how do you make these essential processes not only more cost efficient, but also streamlined, error proof and transparent in a way that generates maximum visibility over your enterprise? It's simple: business process automation.
Once automated processes are in place, businesses like yours can finally save time and guarantee that best practices are always implemented in a way that improves operational efficiency across the board. You can free up as much time as possible on behalf of your human employees so that they can focus on those tasks that drive revenue and breed innovation. You can do all of this and more at the exact same time, provided that you keep a few key things in mind along the way.
The Power of Business Process Automation: Breaking Things Down
At its core, the term "business process automation" means exactly what it sounds like - it's the process of using software technology to automate those repeatable, day-to-day business tasks that, while important, still take up a tremendous amount of your employees' time.
More often than not, this is done through some type of web application so that it is easily accessible and can support multiple users at the same time.
In a larger sense, business process automation makes work far more efficient by routing information to the right person at exactly the right time. Rather than forcing an employee to go looking for the data they need to do their jobs, it's available to them immediately. But more than that, because the application itself exists on the Internet, that data is available to them anywhere, at any time, and on any device.
This is especially important in an era where more people are working remotely than ever before. But even when that is no longer necessarily the case, it's easy to see the benefit of allowing someone to be just as productive no matter where they happen to be. Likewise, this is a tremendous opportunity to better support employees in the field so that they can do better and more informed work for your clients. And let’s not forget the critical need for employees to be able to access data remotely during a pandemic.
Business process automation puts organizational leaders in a better position to make centralized, well-defined business rules and actions - thus adding a much-needed structure to an organization's processes that likely didn't exist before.
But more than anything, business process automation is invaluable because it enables an organization to capture their business rules and actions in a fully automated workflow, thus guaranteeing that the process is implemented the exact same way every single time.
What you're left with is a perfect storm in the best possible way - an opportunity to allow employees to focus on only the most important tasks that actually require them, all while making sure that critical processes are completed on-time, in full and without error. It's the type of opportunity that simply didn't exist even as recently as a decade ago (at least, not in this form) and it's now available for even the smallest organizations to take full advantage of.
In addition to tasks that require multiple people to execute, the types of processes that are perfect candidates for business process automation include those that are time sensitive in nature, those that have a significant impact on other processes and systems, and those that have a need for some type of compliance and/or audit trail.
The Major Benefits of Business Process Automation
As stated, business process automation brings with it a wide range of different benefits that are difficult to ignore - chief among them being the fact that business operations can be performed at a much faster pace than would otherwise be possible.
Again, the types of routine, day-to-day administrative tasks are certainly important - but they also eat up a tremendous amount of time, taking employees away from those jobs that actually require that human element. So not only does business process automation guarantee that the job gets done properly, it also generates results far faster than a human ever could - thus increasing the speed at which you're able to process and derive value from that data, too.
Not only that, but this is also a great opportunity to standardize your operations by producing a consistent set of outcomes every single time. It may not seem like much at first, but standardization goes a long way towards cementing your organization's reputation as a reliable services provider - which will only help increase your customer base in the future.
Likewise, the people within an organization who were previously forced to manage those business processes are now free to spend their time on more important activities. Rather than devoting so much of their effort and attention to tasks that essentially do little more than maintain the status quo, they're free to focus on items that will actually generate revenue for the business. At a bare minimum, they have more time to focus on building and preserving those invaluable relationships with your clients - which is easily one of the biggest advantages that business process automation brings with it.
A Bold New Era For Your Business
In the end, it's certainly true that most businesses have a laundry list of manual, spreadsheet or paper-based business processes to deal with. But that has less to do with this being the best way to do things and is more about the fact that they were simply "the best way to do things at the time."
Technology has certainly come a long way in even as recently as the last five years and business process automation is a shining example of that. Now, even the smallest organizations out there can streamline those important (but ultimately inefficient) business processes in a way that enables them to eliminate human error, improve efficiency and scale their operations more productively - all at the exact same time.
This isn't just how you enable your people to be more productive and to work "smarter, not harder." This is how you empower a bold new era of innovation within your enterprise, carving out a genuine competitive advantage for yourself in the market as well. That is an exciting position for any business to be in regardless of their industry, and business process automation is how you bring it to YOUR organization as quickly as possible.
To learn more about the importance of eliminating human error in your operations, please download the eBook titled "How to Automate Business Process in 7 Smart Steps."