Business process automation enables us to shift the responsibility for these productivity-draining tasks over to technology. Instead of spending 15 weeks each year on mundane tasks, we can use software to do them for us.
Not only are organizations simply boosting productivity, but with intelligent process automation and hyperautomation, businesses are able to complete faster and better than ever.
What is business process automation?
Business process automation (BPA) is a method for organizations to simplify their core processes using a platform. With BPA and intelligent automation, organizations can reduce their reliance on human intervention by automating a range of repetitive tasks.
As organizations get bigger, there are more people, teams, departments, and tasks to coordinate. Relying on people and checking on them later leads to issues and magnifies small mistakes. This can cause significant problems.
Compared to a simple task management platform, BPA helps you create, control, and manage complex workflows at scale. The strategy centralizes all of the processes that churn through your organization into one portal.
Here are some commonly automated tasks within a workflow:
Content marketing approvals
Onboarding new employees or offboarding departing staff
Reviewing time-off requests
Preparing sales contracts
Auto-populating agreements and other documents with information from your CRM
Filling out spreadsheets
Submitting a query to an online database
McKinsey says automation can help unleash the untapped potential of your best team members in digital transformation. By freeing them from manual tasks, they can focus on more revenue-generating activities that drive company growth. The researchers at McKinsey predict that automating tasks can increase productivity by 20-25% in your organization.
How? In general, business process automation helps organizations:
Accelerate everyday operations
Make informed decisions faster
Eliminate process bottlenecks
Reduce regulatory risks
Eliminate manual/paper-based processes
Gartner predicts that automation will fully automate 69% of routine work by 2024, considering its numerous advantages.
How does business process automation work?
BPA enables multiple apps to “speak” to each other. For example, a marketing team member can stitch together a few apps to streamline portions of a workflow. This could include a new email address to the CRM and a separate email marketing platform.
An effective BPA strategy includes more than a handful of automations performing tasks scattered across your organization. It’s a company-wide initiative that extends the benefits of automation into every role and team. Almost half of workers are too busy with administrative tasks to do their actual jobs. This highlights the importance of giving every employee the ability to use automation.
To manage a large-scale BPA program, organizations turn to business process management.
BPA vs. BPM: What’s the difference?
To better understand business process automation, let’s look at its not-so-distant cousin: business process management (BPM). BPA is digitizing and automating tasks, while BPM is managing and monitoring workflows from start to finish.
From a software standpoint, BPA performs the automation. A BPA platform offers the comprehensive architecture needed for an organization to manage every process it automates. It helps route tasks through various individuals, departments, and software tools. BPA platforms also give you the ability to cohesively monitor their progress from a central hub.
A process automation platform should be low-code, meaning workers of all proficiency levels can wield it. By using simple drag-and-drop apps, sales managers and customer service representatives can collaborate on workflow design. These “citizen developers” can easily pull advanced technologies like intelligent document processing (IDP) or artificial intelligence into the fold to extend automation beyond basic data pulls. Also known as digital process automation, these AI-infused platforms:
Connect legacy systems to third-party software to enhance process automation
Leverage third-party AI integrations machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA) to perform more complex jobs like reading and extracting information from documents
Make sense of unstructured data
Learn and improve from experience
Improve the customer and employee experience
Reduce operational costs and drive revenue
Digital process automation injects AI into all of your systems to minimize manual data handling. Using faster software can speed up decision-making and information processing in your organization.
See for yourself! Try out the latest features of ProcessMaker Platform for free.
Sales reps traditionally spend a significant portion of their workday on administrative tasks—from compiling reports to creating lists to generating contracts. Let’s look at one common scenario, contract generation for sales teams, to see how BPA can free up valuable time.
Manual information hand-off
Extensive data entry
Maneuvering between multiple apps
Re-emailing managers to check in on approvals
Automatic distribution of information to the right parties
The contract is routed to an approving manager
Autonomous data entry
Contact generation without automation:
Sales reps manually prepare the final agreement once it’s time to close a new account. This multi-step process requires logging into their CRM, copying client data, and pasting it into a preformatted document.
Sales reps contact the accounting department to share the contract terms. Someone else then enters the pertinent data into a few different fields.
Sales reps send the contract to their manager for approval. Then they go to the accounting department to create customer accounts for payment processing.
Finally, the sales team shuttles the information to the customer service team. The support team had to spend a lot of time and effort due to an incorrect account number. They had to search for the caller’s account.
Contract generation with automation:
With the click of a button, a sales rep pulls data into a pre-formatted template to create a contract.
This triggers a sequence of tasks that run in parallel. For example, a new profile is automatically created in both the accounting and customer service software.
The contract is automatically sent up the approval ladder. Managers can approve the contract within the body of an email without leaving their email client.
The system adds a step to alert the account manager when the customer contacts customer service. They can step in and handle any concerns with white-glove treatment.
Using BPA, organizations don’t just reduce the number of manual steps required to get things done. They also integrate various disparate systems to form one well-connected and highly efficient machine.
How to get started with business process automation
Embracing business process automation can be daunting. We recommend three steps: start small with one process, define your business logic, and choose an automation platform that can meet the needs of the business not only as it is but as it grows.