What is Business Process Automation?
A business process is an activity or set of activities that will accomplish a specific organizational goal. It coordinates the behavior of people, systems, information, and things to produce outcomes that align with a business strategy.
This sounds basic enough, though a real-world business process can be bafflingly complex and convolute.
Business process automation (BPA), also known as digital transformation or business automation, is the technology-enabled automation of business processes. BPA comprises the integration of applications, restructuring labor resources and incorporating software applications into the organization.
According to a study by Statista, the global business process automation market value is projected to increase from $9.7 billion in 2019 to $12.7 billion in 2021. As more organizations implement BPA software to streamline their business processes, it’s paramount to examine your business and see if and where it can benefit you.
Let’s examine an example of business process automation software in action. Digitizing a paper form and having the electronic version automatically submitted to the correct recipient would be a good example. This process could be implemented in various departments, and is triggered by a specific event (such as filing an expense report for reimbursement).
Automating this specific task may be part of a wider business process management strategy for the organization. Other tasks that may be automated include report generation, payroll, data entry, onboarding, and file transfers, among many others.
What is Business Process Management (BPM)?
Business process management (BPM) is an organizational discipline that uses various methods to measure, analyze, and optimize complex mission-critical business processes and functions. It analyzes these processes from end-to-end, models how they would work in different scenarios, and accordingly improves them. It’s an ongoing activity that requires continual process re-engineering.
Business process management software is more comprehensive than BPA, as it does not focus on a single process but instead on accomplishing greater organizational efficiency overall. If the systematic approach is implemented successfully, workers understand their contribution to business goals more deeply.
Business process automation vs business process management: What are the key differences?
Business process automation and business process management sound similar and may be related, but they should not be confused.
- BPA focuses on automating business processes, particularly with the use of technology.
- BPM, on the other hand, is about managing these processes – with or without technology and automation.
In other words, not all BPM includes automation, but all BPA can be considered to be a form of BPM.
Both these concepts are of utmost importance to an organization, no matter what industry it may belong to. They share a similar goal – to increase efficiency, streamline businesses for greater productivity, reduce errors and cost, and make customers happy while increasing ROI.
Why are BPA and BPM crucial to an enterprise’s success?
There’s no denying that all organizations look out for ways to optimize their business processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs to boost their bottom line. Nearly all industries and markets are moving towards digitization in some form, and this requires setting and achieving certain digital transformation goals. Business process management and business process automation are the best way for organizations to achieve those goals and contribute to the enterprise’s success.
Together, implementing BPM and BPA software optimizes business processes, indirectly (or directly) improving the quality of services and products the organization offers. This improves customer experiences and leads to happier clients. They also provide greater collaboration and, in many cases, greater transparency into workers’ tasks and activities.
In a theoretical crisis, your managers will have greater visibility and insights on how to get back on track.
The Benefits of Business Automation
Wondering where to begin in automating your business processes and operations? Best practices for business automation can be broken down into three simple steps:
- Define your business goals
- Establish clear roles
- Leverage automation tools
Business automation can streamline your business and help you achieve your digital transformation goals, benefiting your organization in various ways to give you happier customers, reduce the overall cost of business operation, and boost your ROI.
Productivity and cost reduction
Business automation can reduce the need for human labor, particularly with monotonous or repetitive tasks such as bill payments, website analysis or even simple tasks such as converting paper forms into electronic forms. Even scheduling your social media presence through automation may save an employee hours of labor. These examples of business automation can free up employee and staff time so that they can focus on implementing ideas to make business processes more efficient.
This in turn boosts productivity, even as it reduces the cost of resources and labor. BPA can automate various processes if they don’t require logical thinking, and allows your employees to apply themselves to tasks that require more creativity and more of a “human” touch, while reducing the overall cost of business operations.
As business automation reduces the need for human labor, this goes hand-in-hand with lowering the possibility of human errors in the business process. Of course, this only applies to certain business processes, but BPA can greatly reduce the risk of costly human error in important procedures.
Monitoring individual workers and ensuring a seamless flow of information can be difficult with more complex projects. Automation software is designed to help increase collaboration and accountability as it tracks project processes and progress, updates the different teams, and sets goals and deadlines to help team members collaborate in a simple and effective manner.
Automating a business process means you can expect the outcomes to be consistent every time. Not only does this standardization make it easier in terms of scalability, it also sets a tone of reliability for your organization that customers appreciate.
Automating any process guarantees that there will be a trail of documents generated every time that process is implemented. This adds another layer of transparency that makes it easier for managers to govern the project. It’s possible to predict and optimize the workflow while expecting the same level of consistency – something that can only be achieved through automation.