Business process automation (BPA) is a helpful technology smart organizations are using to make more time for the work that matters. Using BPA, sales reps, customer service teams, accounting professionals, and HR executives alike can draw on software tools to handle the rote, repetitive, time-draining manual tasks that take up a large chunk of their day. BPA is an unbeatable strategy for:
- Reducing the time you spend on daily operations
- Minimizing human errors
- Improving overall processing times
- Eliminating paperwork
- Maximizing departmental output
Studies show that some organizations are so bogged down by manual and menial processes that employees are left with only one-quarter of the day to focus on high-value, revenue-generating activities. Organizations are using business process automation to turn the productivity tides in their favor. Here are some of the common tasks automated through BPA.
5 common tasks organizations automate using BPA—plus two closer looks at how they get it done
- Answer quick customer questions: Customer service reps free up their support queue by handing softball questions like password resets and order tracking over to chatbots.
- Process invoices: Globally, 70% of invoice processing is still paper-based. Not only do manual processes make this revenue center ripe for error, but businesses take 4x longer to pay paper invoices. Using automation tools like robotic process automation (RPA), software can extract and validate invoice information in mere seconds. While the typical full-time employee can process 6,000 paper invoices per year, they can check 90,000 digital invoices per year using automation.
- Sales contracting: Admin tasks flood the final phases of closing a sales deal. Typically, sales reps need to copy and paste data between various systems to populate the contract and get things set up with accounting. Automation tools can help pull data from multiple sources and quickly fill out form fields and CRM profiles.
- Recruiting top talent: When you finally find the ideal candidate, you need to act fast. Unfortunately, 57% of hiring managers have lost a potential hire to another opportunity simply because their internal process took too long to approve an offer. By automating interview scheduling, background checks, and applicant tracking, organizations are more likely to land the best candidates.
- Verifying information against external resources: Industries like banking must check identities against anti-money laundering databases and other government records. Instead of a banking executive manually logging in and typing in an applicant’s name, an automated process can perform identity verification for you.
Automation is a compelling tool for every department within your organization. Let’s see how two paperwork-addled departments, sales and HR, are taking advantage of automation’s massive time-saving potential.
1. How sales teams are using chatbots
A recent study revealed that sales reps spend an astronomical percentage of their day toiling with administrative tasks. Instead of selling, they’re burning through two-third of their time on busywork like updating spreadsheets and gathering sales intelligence.
McKinsey found that diligent sales teams can save valuable time by automating up to one-third of their tasks. This includes time-consuming functions like pricing, contacting, and lead nurturing, as well as post-sales activity like regular follow-ups or fulfilling orders for spare parts. By using automation to take care of these tasks, McKinsey estimates that organizations can uplift sales by 10%.
Not all sales jobs are fully automatable—many still require the unmatchable je ne sais quois of the human touch to close the deal. But, top sales departments are turning to automation tools like chatbots to help them move prospective customers through the purchasing funnel.
Chatbots can automatically reach out to swaths of pending opportunities in greater numbers than a salesperson has the bandwidth to connect with. Once a pending prospect hits a certain point in the funnel, a chatbot can reach out through text or email using a predetermined script. Natural language processing (NLP) tools help the bot understand the context and intent of customer responses in order to determine the next course of action. McKinsey estimates that an automation strategy like this one can free up 10–20% of the day for sales teams to focus their efforts on other high-priority projects or prospects.
2. See how HR professionals are automating time-off requests
A joint team of time management experts in the United States and the United Kingdom found that employees waste up to 40 million hours each month dealing with complex HR systems. That adds up to nearly 20,000 staff members focusing full-time, 8 hours per day every workday of the year, on administrative tasks like time-off requests and expense reports. Even small businesses aren’t free from the paperwork burden—according to 45% of small business owners, they spend approximately one day every week sifting through HR issues.
Keeping a manual record of an employee’s vacation days can be a daunting task—especially when team numbers bubble up into the hundreds or thousands. When a time-off request comes through, HR executives have to contend with:
- Reviewing an employee’s time-off balance
- Checking with one or more managers for approval
- Once approved, they need to deduct the time from a leave balance
- Keeping record of the leave for payroll
Managing this process requires lots of record-keeping, follow-ups, and paperwork exchanges. So, HR teams are turning to automation to help streamline time-off requests. Using automation tools, they can send and track approval requests—where managers can even approve or deny within the email body itself. Software systems can automatically track of earned and used time and even pass the information along to other teams like accounting.
Another plus of using automation to shore up this paper trail-intensive process? Employees can log in to a company dashboard to look up their available vacation time before they even contact HR.
Gartner estimates that nearly 50% of organizations will use automation in their HR departments by 2022, giving human resource teams more time to focus on higher-value projects.
‘Busywork’ is more than a hum-drum drain on morale. Departments overwhelmed by repetitive, never-ending administrative tasks are a drain to your bottom line, adding up to nearly $534 billion per year in losses, according to one key study in the United Kingdom. Using automation in these common areas can cut down on processing costs, reduce human error, and boost productivity across your organization.