Digital Process Automation

In the current business environment, organizations are increasingly turning to digital process automation technology, backed by leaner operating budgets to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and provide the much-needed flexibility. Gartner forecasts that by 2024, organizations will reduce operational expenses by 30%, a trend accelerated by the Covid pandemic, as they integrate redesigned operational processes with hyper-automation (i.e. identifying and automating multiple business processes using machine learning and digital process automation software).

Digital Process Automation

1.What is Digital Process Automation?

DPA – Digital process automation, is a method by which digital technology is used to automate business processes and optimize its workflows. DPA essentially focuses on automating tasks that involve human interaction, i.e. management, sales, and marketing. It also extends efficiencies delivered by business process management (BPM) solutions to external users like customers, vendors, and key stakeholders, resulting in better user experiences, and ensuring real-time data access.

DPA is thus a natural progression of business process management (BPM), fuelling the need for businesses to rapidly automate processes as part of their digital transformation journey. Primarily, DPA focuses on automating business systems and processes initially and then optimizing the end-to-end information and data flow between business applications, systems, employees, and customers. Common examples of digital business process automation include customer and/or employee onboarding, loan and credit approvals, purchase orders, and transportation & logistics.

Some of the key principles of DPA – Digital Process Automation consist of the following:

  • Maintaining transparency across business processes
  • Automating customer tasks
  • Triggering notifications, alerts, and reminders
  • Creating a seamless collaborative environment for all users
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2. Importance to adopt DPA to drive growth & sustainability

Digital Process Automation is one of the prime organizational drivers of growth and sustainability. This is illustrated in its various benefits, i.e.

Greater employee satisfaction: DPA clearly defines employee roles and responsibilities, including the points where human intervention is required. A suitable digital process automation software allows employees to seek help, and communicate seamlessly with team members and managers, with organizations also able to update employees regarding workflow changes in real-time.

Improved customer service levels: Digital business process automation allows employees to focus less on time-consuming repetitive tasks and spend more time assisting customers, thereby improving the overall customer experience. For example, banks can improve customer experience by automating the new account opening process.

Increased compliance and security: Manual and paper-based processes result in lost documents, security breaches, and low levels of compliance. DPA tools like Master Data Management (MDM) make it easier to digitally store, secure, and access important information and documentation.

Reduction in operational costs: By automating tasks, employees can complete tasks quickly and efficiently, and focus their time on less repetitive and higher-value functions.

Organizational flexibility & sustainability: The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 redefined the business paradigm, making it imperative for organizations to shift business goals and strategies quickly, remain sustainable and keep up with growth levels. Examples of this included work from home as the new business normal, shift to digital groceries and payments, remote business models like virtual client briefings, virtual or hybrid events, and online learning models. Even when things return to normal, organizations will have to continue reacting to challenges like changing consumer preferences, market dynamics, and demand in real-time.

The key benefits of DPA can also be summarized in the following chart below:

3. How BPX is helping numerous companies to adopt DPA?

Based out of Pune, India, Business Process Xperts (BPX) is a leading management consulting firm specializing in the development of customized SOPs, industry-ready digital process automation technology solutions, digital process consulting, and digital process outsourcing services. The business is a division of Mind-A-Mend Consultancy Private Limited, along with its sister organizations YRC and YFC.

BPX has been developing agile, paperless SOPs for companies belonging to diverse industry sectors, ranging from automobile to engineering, banks to financial institutions & corporates to conglomerates. Our experienced DPA consultants and experts handhold our clients every step of the way, helping them to optimize business processes and automate process workflows, paving the way for the successful implementation of an overall digital process improvement mechanism. Thus, we facilitate an organization’s digital transformation journey, making them digitally process-oriented and organized, and helping them achieve operational efficiencies with a core business focus.

Step 01: Define SOPs

SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures are essential tools and guidelines for a set of tasks and are used to structure and standardize a company’s operational roadmap. They outline the Who, What, Why, Where, When, Whom, and How of a business process/operation. Defining business practices and the digital process framework, SOPs convey two clear messages to any growth-driven organization – responsibility and consistency. These are written as numbered steps in a document or as flow charts and are continuously evolving, live records subjected to periodic modifications and reviews. Normally, SOPs are stored in an electronic format on a web/cloud-based network for easy access and learning, and are created for all key business departments like Human Resources, Production, Purchases, Planning, Finance, Accounting & Taxation, Legal, Marketing & Sales, PR, etc.

SOPs can be used in various forms, namely:

  • Workflow Charts/ Diagrams

  • Process docs

  • Checklists

  • Forms

  • Training manuals or docs

  • Video/ Photographical (with images)

  • Hybrid – Flowchart with checklists/images/video

Step 02 – Automate SOPs with the use of technology

Automation and digital, paperless SOPs go hand in hand. According to a recent report by McKinsey, businesses looking to automate their processes have steadily increased from 57% in 2018 to 66% in 2020. Digital SOPs can be effectively integrated into IT systems and automated BPM tools, and have been increasingly adopted by a majority of IT, Retail & Manufacturing organizations in recent times.

Here are the key methods to automate SOPs with the use of technology:

  • CMMS for SOP Automation: A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a software program used to manage organizational assets and streamline maintenance activities. CMMS helps monitor asset performance, quality assurance, and compliance audits, with its digital checklists helping to track business processes and work orders. A good CMMS software platform will also support procedural attachments, diagrams, and flow charts, hierarchical checklists, PDF attachments, and photo uploading to help organize and automate complex SOPs.
  • Integration with Automated Ticketing Tools: Paperless SOPs can be conveniently integrated into automated ticketing tools like the agile BPM software. Thus, comprehensive user manuals (with step-by-step instructions, process background, and notification details) can be created for business workflows. These can be easily converted into web pages with 24/7 online accessibility.
  • Automation of Repetitive Tasks: Documenting your organization’s most repetitive, routine, and manual tasks are done at the start. Examples include daily cleaning procedures, routine maintenance tasks, and worker opening/closing processes.
  • Real-time collaboration & progress tracking: Employers can track a task’s progress in real-time, especially the incremental updates, and this helps to adhere to SLA’s and deadlines. The task status is always clearly displayed, i.e. in progress, pending, or delayed, as per timelines. Employees have to sync, mark, and compare the task’s current progress with the actual workflow steps given in the BPM software.
  • Laying down Process Workflows with Employee Input: Employees who are engaged in performing specific procedures should plan out, develop, and write the first drafts of the SOP, detailing the process workflows. Inputs from these ‘subject-matter experts’ (SMEs) are therefore required to draft the business process frameworks covered by SOPs. Secondary employees and managers can make subsequent modifications (i.e. adding missing steps or simplifying process definitions). The final draft can be reviewed and fine-tuned by organizational leaders for quality assurance, with line managers ensuring process compliance thereafter.
  • Creating an SOP Labelling System: Businesses can establish a consistent, automated SOP-labelling system to categorize and standardize business information, with the organized format becoming a centralized reference point for every business user.

Step 03 – Achieve Paperless SOPs

BPX helps you to implement paperless SOPs, which are instruction manuals stored in electronic or digital form, facilitating digital process automation, enhancement of team productivity, and an overall reduction in error rates. Digital, paperless SOPs enable employees to easily reference work instructions, policies, and checklists. Importantly, it also allows managers to track SOP implementation, quality, and overall business operations and maintenance.

The following are the advantages of paperless SOPs:

  • Time and cost-savings with easy access: Paperless SOPs transform difficult-to-read instructions into interactive, user-friendly workflows. They are normally stored in an economical, digital format on a web/cloud-based network for easy, real-time access, and can be quickly saved, retrieved, and updated, making them instantly accessible from anywhere and from any electronic device.
  • Process diagnosis: If a mistake occurs within a process and the team is unable to pinpoint the exact issue in quick time, paperless SOPs can provide immediate, corrective action, since all the steps are laid down and tracked using automation tools. This leads to higher efficiency in process completion times and helps in maintaining overall workflow quality.
  • Instant search: Unlike physical SOPs which can take a lot of time to search or scrutinize, paperless SOPs can be retrieved instantly in a matter of minutes, through specific keyword searches. Therefore, all process instructions are always at the user’s fingertips.
  • Efficiency: Organizations can quickly locate and disseminate information in digital documents, thereby enhancing overall process efficiency. Digital business process automation software can safely carry out auto-backup and document storage functionalities in specified databases. Modifications made to digital manuals can also be quickly viewed and implemented.
  • Reduced storage space & data safety: Storing traditional SOPs in file cabinets, boxes, storage bins, and lockers (and shredding them for security purposes) are outdated, time-consuming exercises. Digital SOPs contained within process automation tools need lesser storage space and incorporate advanced system protocols using the best, secure, cloud-based data storage technology which prevents possible data loss and breaches.

BPX will help you to seamlessly implement digital, paperless SOPs for your organization, helping it to sustain its growth trajectory and operational workflows. These process guidelines don’t follow a ‘one size fits all’ approach and have to be suitably customized according to your business needs, evolving and adapting to prevailing market conditions.

Step 04- Track KPIs

KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators (also referred to as KSIs or Key Success Indicators), are performance metrics that measure specific business goals across all sectors. These parameters, if designed and implemented properly can define the business direction and optimize performance, and provide essential feedback and help organize individuals, teams, projects, and businesses as a whole. One of the most effective ways of evaluating the effectiveness of a KPI is the SMART criteria. The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

KPIs help to track key business components like:

  • Revenue (i.e. average profits, total revenue, and new customers)
  • Employment statistics (i.e. employee turnover, performance, and vacancies)
  • Customer service (i.e. average call time, efficiency, and customer satisfaction)
  • Marketing (i.e. sales generation and overall effectiveness)
  • Efficiency (i.e. overall efficiency, departmental processes, and individual efficiency)

Commonly used KPIs which indicate digital process automation success can be highlighted as under:

  • Total Automated Processes: This is the sum of all the automated production processes that make up your digital workforce. This KPI indicates how automated programs evolve and grow, how adept teams are at identifying opportunities and prioritizing them through to development, and how mature the organization is in its automation journey.
  • Velocity: This refers to the average time taken to execute an automated process.
  • Utilization: Utilization is how often an automated process is executed and when.
  • Accuracy: Accuracy refers to how often the automated process is executed with/without errors.
  • Expected Business Value: Expected business value is a metric that essentially consolidates all the other KPIs, according to different variables. With simple task automation in mind, the expected business value delivered is the total returns calculated from the cost savings accrued from increased velocity, utilization, and improved accuracy multiplied by a full-time employee’s cost over a specified time period.

If you are a business owner looking to successfully implement DPA – Digital Process Automation, look no further, and please connect with BPX now. We will first understand your exact business requirements and then suitably customize your transformation roadmap, helping you to harness the advantages of DPA, maximize your true business potential, and scale up and grow exponentially to stay well ahead of the curve!

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