Automation Of Processes (With Definition And Examples)
Updated 30 September 2022
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Businesses can automate specific processes using software to improve efficiency and reduce cost. This enables them to minimise human errors, reduce resources and cost, deliver quality service, achieve digital transformation, improve customer service and generate more revenue. The knowledge of various business automation processes can help you gain insight into how businesses streamline processes and meet their objectives. In this article, we discuss the automation of processes, find out how it can benefit businesses and review some examples to help you understand it better.
What Is The Automation Of Processes?
Also known as business process automation (BPA) or digital process automation (DPA), automation of processes involves replacing manual, time-consuming tasks with automated tasks that can accomplish the same objective in less time with greater efficiency and minimal human intervention. Automating the business testing process is useful for:
Complex processes that include components and sub-components
Tasks prone to human errors
Compliance issues or audit tasks
Processes that are time-consuming and require more resources
Businesses can use a variety of tools available to automate certain tasks. A company can develop its own software to automate various processes that involve confidential data or security concerns.
Related: How To Become An RPA Developer (With Salary And Skills)
Benefits Of Business Process Automation
Here are some benefits of BPA:
Increases productivity: An automated process runs repeatedly on a schedule and requires minimal human intervention. This helps professionals focus on other important activities at the workplace.
Reduces costs: Having automated business processes reduces the possibility of errors. This reduces the cost and efforts of fixing issues and performing maintenance.
Minimises errors: An automated process is highly accurate, in contrast to manual work, which is susceptible to human error.
Improves efficiency: The automation of processes saves time by running several tasks concurrently with high accuracy and efficiency.
Standardises processes: An effective BPA is a systematic process with clear steps and standard outcomes.
Provides auditable records: It becomes easier to track documents, verify their authenticity, review the workflow process and manage owner, group and user permissions.
Ensures compliance: Automating business processes involves taking security measures, confidentiality protection and ensuring compliance with standard regulations.
Improves customer satisfaction: Using automation, development teams can frequency and quality of releases. Developing quality products faster results in higher customer satisfaction.
Increases scalability: Incorporating automation into daily tasks can help increase the volume of data processed and make the business more scalable.
Related: 10 Ticketing Software To Consider (With Tips To Choose One)
Examples Of Business Process Automation
Here are some examples where businesses can benefit from automation:
Employee leave requests
Raising a leave request may involve multiple steps such as sending emails, getting approvals and tracking leaves. Using leave management automation, organisations can provide employees with an interface to enter their details, streamline the approval process, send emails to concerned members and update the annual leave counter. This helps the human resources (HR) team focus on other crucial tasks.
On-boarding new hires
HR professionals work with new hires during the onboarding process to ensure they can integrate into company systems efficiently. The process may include scheduling orientations, organising training sessions, opening bank accounts, gathering documentation or assigning mentors. A company can improve its onboarding process by integrating an automated onboarding system that ensures all these steps occur systematically and on schedule.
Related: What Is Onboarding For New Employees? Tips And Importance
Purchase orders are a critical component of the procurement process. Organisations use them to procure the goods and services they need. The process includes manual, repetitive tasks such as gathering customer information, filling procurement forms, getting approvals from various levels of management and processing the orders.
Using BPA software, businesses can automate the procurement process by digitising the purchase order forms, fetching customer details using a structured query language (SQL) and integrating the approval process into the workflow. The software is customisable to add additional approval levels, conditional workflows and other details.
Related: What Is A Logistics Manager? (With Salary And Skills)
Travel authorisation processes can become cumbersome with multiple exchanges of emails and paperwork, document verification and approvals from various departments such as HR and finance. BPA tools can automate this process by allowing employees to submit their details online, verifying details automatically, streamlining the approval process and recording the relevant details in a database for further use.
Verifying expense claims and providing reimbursement is time-consuming and prone to errors. This may include collecting receipts or invoices, verifying them, sending them for approval to various departments and providing reimbursements. Professionals handling expense claims are also required to review the expenses to ensure they do not contain inflated or false data.
BPA tools can automate this process by allowing employees to submit their details online along with receipts, verifying details automatically, streamlining the approval process and recording the relevant details in a database for further use. The tools also allow the participants to monitor the progress and expedite the process in case of delays.
Related: What Is A Purchasing Process? Importance, Steps And Tips
Help desk support
A ticket is a document containing information about the problem or query, its status and any additional details. Employees raise tickets to seek resolution of issues that interrupt their workflow. IT departments can use automated ticketing system software to:
Process large volumes of tickets
Manage routine tasks efficiently
Automate manual tasks so that technicians can focus on other critical issues
Route the queries to respective teams for resolution
Monitor the progress of a ticket
Provide employees with self-service options for frequently occurring issues
Generated detailed reports and identify areas of improvement
Related: 9 Popular Incident Management Tools (And How To Choose One)
In companies with multiple levels of management, proposals and other documents may be subject to multiple approvals. Performing this manually may take a long time or prove challenging. Using an automated workflow can accelerate the approval process and budget allocation and allow all the stakeholders to monitor the progress of a project throughout the development life-cycle.
Related: What Is Project Planning? (How To Create A Project Plan)
Best Practices For Business Process Automation
Here are some best practices that companies can follow when automating their processes:
Select the right process
Companies can make a list of processes that are time-consuming, prone to human mistakes, complex or challenging to perform manually. After a thorough evaluation of the pros and cons of automating each process, they can start by automating processes which are mission-critical and customer-centric.
Choose the right tool
Companies perform thorough research on the various automation tools available in the market to choose the one that suits their needs. They can consider using trial versions to select a tool that better streamlines all the processes and lets employees focus on more crucial and strategic tasks. Factors essential in selecting a tool are scalability, levels of capabilities, types of users in a company and budget. It is essential to select automation tools that non-technical users can easily adapt and operate.
Define clear objectives and measure ROI
Automation requires significant time and financial investment. It is necessary for companies to evaluate the performance at each step to ensure that the investment is worthwhile. Some metrics that they can use to measure an automation initiative are:
Straight Through Processing (STP)
Turn Around Time (TAT)
Average Handle Time (AHT)
Case Pendency (CP)
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Input quality data
Preparing quality data is essential when automating business processes. Professionals involved in the automation process require creating data that is clean, well-structured and relevant to the use case. They are also required to ensure that the company data used in the automation process is safe from unauthorised attacks, breaches of privacy, corruption or theft.
Using business process automation tools may require technical skills. Companies can conduct training sessions to ensure that users have hands-on experience using the tool and understand its functionality. It can also be beneficial to have a knowledge base which contains training material such as videos, presentations and tips pertaining to the usage of the software.
Focus on continuous improvement
After automating processes, measuring their efficiency is a critical part of the initiative. It is essential for process owners to evaluate the performance of automation and make adjustments to ensure it is performing optimally. They can use key performance indicators (KPIs) to make these evaluations and assess if it is benefiting the company.
Have a backup plan
There may be instances of technical glitches or failure of automation processes which can hinder various business activities. It is essential for all business automation processes to have backup plans to ensure all the activities continue to function smoothly. Human-centric automation enables employees to take advantage of automated software, with the option of human intervention in the event of failure.
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