Business process automation, or BPA for short, is used to manage information, data, and processes, with the main goal to reduce costs, resources, and investment.
By automating key business processes through computing technology, BPA can have a very positive impact on a business.
If you would like to learn about BPA in greater detail, check out a comprehensive robotic process automation resource from Prolifics, but for the time being, the article below will give you enough knowledge to get a firm grasp on what BPA is, all of its different types, and the many benefits it has.
A deeper look into business process automation
The process of making a business function with more ease by using automation and technology has existed for over a century. The idea was born in 1913 when Henry Ford found an efficient way to manufacture his cars.
Over time as technology advanced, so did the use of BPA, which is now used in a variety of businesses every day.
BPA was designed to make managing data, information, and processes much easier with the goals of stabilizing an organization’s efficiency. With correct implementation, BPA can deliver up to 400% ROI.
When we take a closer look at business process automation, we can see that it’s built upon three basic principles:
- Orchestration, which allows businesses to create multiple synchronized systems to help them manage their computing architecture.
- Integration, which allows all of the important business elements to function together after they’re streamlined into a single system.
- Automated execution, which minimizes the need to hire human employees.
As for the elements that make BPA, they can also be divided into three distinct components:
- Business rules and logic. These are all policies that a business puts into place which the BPA will use as the baseline for the processes and actions that need to be taken as a business is propelled toward its goals. The logic of the system will be defined by those rules and then automated.
- Structured data. Data plays a big role in any business, and structured data is the most valuable one, as it’s used to analyze a business’s performance. This data can be generated by both humans and computers, and BPA uses this data by streamlining it into concise and useful reports.
- Unstructured data. Any data that isn’t structured belongs in this category. It’s usually text-based data, but it can include things such as images and files.
Types of business process automation
The term “business process automation” is a much wider term than some realize. There are different types of automation, and the one you decide to implement depends on the needs of your business. As a rule of thumb, no two businesses have the same automation needs.
There are four types of BPA. They range from very simple to overly complex, and a business can use one or more of these types, depending on its needs.
Out of all business process automation types, this is the simplest form that is used very often in various organizations. It’s used to address small and simple jobs, collect all of the information related to those jobs, and group it into one easily accessible place.
An example of basic automation is a messaging tool all employees use to make sure no information gets lost and everyone is included in current projects.
A little bit more complex than the previous type, process automation is related to managing tasks, projects, and processes with the use of a dedicated BPA software tool. This type of automation increases transparency and streamlines all necessary information to make sure everything stays consistent.
The dedicated software automation that is used in process automation comes with a dashboard that contains all the information and is also easily accessible.
This is where the line between basic and complicated automation really starts because this is where machines and software replace human employees and replicate the tasks those employees would normally do.
However, integration automation still requires human interaction to a certain degree, as the rules for this type of BPA are set by human employees who define the workflows.
An example of integration automation is a customer support platform that does basic jobs such as collecting customer complaints and processing it through the software. When the platform completes this part of the job, a human employee still needs to solve those complaints.
Artificial intelligence automation
Finally, we have AI automation which is the most complex type of BPA. It operates by driving innovation in business and bringing streamlining business operations to the next level.
Artificial intelligence consists of computer software applications that have the ability to make human-like decisions without human assistance or provide technical support the same way an employee would.
AI automation achieves this by organizing data through software systems and then creating a process based on that data.
Benefits of business process automation
Some companies, especially those that haven’t automated many of their processes, can be skeptical about BPA. Creating this kind of system and implementing one of the above-mentioned types of automation is complex, and some don’t see a reason to do it.
However, the only reason for this is that they don’t have a full grasp of the tangible results they are going to see.
That is why everyone who runs a business needs to know about the key benefits of business process automation.
- Increasing productivity. As soon as a business process and workflow is automated, the time that is required to complete that task is instantly reduced. This allows your employees to devote their time to other tasks that will generate more revenue or bring forth other improvements.
- Providing better customer service. This is a clear byproduct of BPA, even if you don’t automate customer service. Since employees will have more time to address customer inquiries, they will provide more accurate and consistent customer service.
- Eliminating human error. Making mistakes is a part of human nature, but when you automate certain processes, there will be much less room for error.
- Increasing transparency. When you automate communication between employees, you provide them with a visual and organized chain of communication that provides more transparency than spoken communication. This will, in turn, make lost instructions and misunderstandings much less frequent.
All of these benefits will allow you to generate greater profit potential and acquire more revenue.
Which processes should you automate?
Now that you have a firm grasp on what business automation is and why it can be beneficial to your business, we need to discuss which processes need to be automated. After all, not all tasks require automation.
The main thing you need to understand about BPA is that there’s no set rule about which process or task can be automated. It can be implemented in different ways if your business falls under a particular set of criteria.
If you ask yourself “Should I apply business process automation to X process?”, the answer actually lies in a couple of more questions:
- Does the process you want to automate have a high volume of tasks?
- Are the tasks you want to automate time-sensitive?
- Does it require the engagement of multiple employees to complete this task?
- Will automation have a positive impact on all processes and systems in the company?
- Will automation make the process easier to audit in the future?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is positive, then automating the process is a smart decision.
Business process automation is one of the best things to happen for business in the modern world. Without it, we could never expect to be as efficient and productive as we are now. If you haven’t already automated some processes in your company, now you see why you should make that your top priority.