A large part of running a business is doing the seemingly mundane tasks like categorizing your email contacts, filling forms and copying documents. And while these may be easy to get through when your business is small, they can massively slow you down once customers start pouring in rapidly.
Luckily, technology has advanced enough to address this issue. According to the World Economic Forum, 80% of business leaders are speeding up work process automation, while Gartner predicts that 69% of all managerial tasks will be automated by 2024.
On that note, let’s discuss the evolving relevance of business automation and shed more light on how derivatives like Business Process Automation can save your business from falling behind:
Though automation has been around for a while now, the more common and basic versions of it were lacking in many ways. For example:
The solutions could only automate a single straightforward action instead of a series of related actions.
The automation in place required very clear and detailed rules to follow, and they had to be constantly altered whenever there was a change in the desired outcome.
In some cases, each action to be automated required a unique tool, which would make adoption expensive. Additionally, there was limited room for integration between tools automating interdependent tasks, so manual intervention in between was required, and breakdowns in integrations were common.
As the technology evolved, Business Process Automation emerged as a formidable response to these challenges.
Business Process Automation (BPA) refers to a software tool used to automate a repeatable business transaction made up of multiple steps from end to end. These processes may be internal or customer-facing, such as reviewing and approving a loan application, verifying a user account, onboarding a new employee, or fulfilling a purchase order.
So while basic automation focuses on a single action, BPA zooms out for a broader perspective of a department or organization’s objectives, taking over various sets of sequential tasks. Other examples of BPA at work include:
· File transfers involving encryption and decryption
· Order entry for databases
· Spreadsheet population
· User provisioning
· Analysis and report generation
· Claims processing
As more and more repetitive tasks are delegated to automation software, employees have more time to focus on the tasks that require maximum human discretion. This means they can get through their workload faster as more tasks are performed concurrently.
Furthermore, as the employees flex their creative muscle, they can come up with more efficient ways of tackling the non-automatable tasks and collaborate more to get things done faster. The result is an increase in the productivity of your workforce, meaning that customers get served faster.
BPA reduces the number of hands you need to complete certain processes. For example, some stages of customer support can be characterized by automatic answers, and when the customer needs more extensive help, their ticket can then be forwarded to a human support agent.
By doing so, a business will no longer need a large support team and can therefore downsize accordingly. However, automation doesn’t always mean that a human will be out of a job. Some workers whose job descriptions aren’t very specialized can be redeployed in other roles.
BPA also reduces operational costs in other ways. For example, whenever errors are made in a task performed by humans such as data entry, a business has to get fresh eyes on the results to rectify the mistakes. This often results in paying overtime to the crew that will comb through the work product.
So by relying on BPA tools, you can reduce errors and institute additional quality checks to ensure that all the results are coherent and ready for the next stage.
One of the beauties of BPA is that it leaves an elaborate trail showing how the work progresses. For instance, when the system processes one user request, you can access timestamps showing when an action was triggered and completed.
As the system processes larger batches of requests simultaneously, you can see the change in the duration for each action. This data enables you to ascertain the average time it takes to complete a transaction, and the areas where more performance can be extracted.
From here, you can set a standard that customers get used to, and gradually work to shorten the time needed to complete a process by securing more resources such as memory and processing power. This also means that a business can achieve greater scalability since you can increase resources on demand.
Such capabilities come in handy when performing Know Your Customer (KYC) checks for new accounts, and other onboarding-related efforts.
When relying mainly on human beings to perform certain tasks, factors like illness, mandated holidays, traveling, deaths of relatives and other eventualities can render them occasionally unavailable.
But in the case of BPA, service doesn’t have to come to a standstill because there’s no human attendant. Subsequently, businesses using BPA can realize higher availability for their services and focus on limiting downtime caused by issues such as Server Overload.
All-in-all, BPA has the potential to increase customer satisfaction as service is sped up and more consistently available, while also improving morale amongst employees. BPA is most effective when put into context with budgets, schedules and other organizational concerns.
This comprehensive approach helps you identify the most potent opportunities for automation and strategic timing that will ensure maximum return on investment. All this can take shape through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems that gather, store, interpret and manage data for various business activities.