What is the meaning of Automating a Business Process?
Not a long time ago, we were dependent on printers and copiers to share information at our workplaces. These devices used to be a part of our routine work. In many ways, they still are but our dependence on them has drastically reduced. Today, we have digital communication solutions like messaging apps and workflow applications. We can share information more quickly and readily. It does not matter whether we have a printer or copier in our proximity or not. We have smartphones and other devices to make things easier. If an individual gets so empowered with the use of technology, imagine the benefits on a larger scale, say for any company. Although the activities of a business enterprise are far more complex than those of an individual, it only makes the case of adopting process automation stronger for them.
Business process automation simply means that the dependence on human efforts or intervention is abridged with the use of technological solutions including both software and hardware. Automation of a business process could cover the whole or part of it.
But is business process automation effective enough to make any significant difference for a business enterprise? In this blog, we are showcasing the practical benefits of implementing business process automation.
Improved and Enhanced Operational Capabilities
Inventory management is one of the foremost business processes that should be considered for automation. As the size and variety of inventory involved increases, the need for automation also intensifies. Even a small grocery store has to deal with hundreds of products and their variants. Keeping track of existing stock and incoming and outgoing inventory is extremely challenging if done manually. Automating also helps in placing reorders which in turn helps to maintain adequate stock levels. Automation lends accuracy to numbers which is necessary to avoid over-investing in inventory. It also enables easy tracking of unsold goods or goods which are nearing their expiry dates for return purposes. Business process automation is helping innumerable companies enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their business operations. The gradual shift from manual operations to an automated environment is a deliberate and conscious business decision. Going beyond improved operational efficiency, automation leads to quicker process improvisations and maturity. It is easier to replicate mature processes in another location in the event of business expansion. Automation also helps businesses normalise their operations in a shorter span in case of improvisations or expansion projects. Business process automation enhances the operational abilities of an enterprise to handle more business volume. This gives them the confidence to strive for a larger market share.
The implications of not adopting process automation are far worse than the opposite of its benefits. A simple example of this is the GPS on our smartphones. With GPS and internet connectivity in our hands, we are more confident about finding unknown locations. Of course, you could use a printed map. It could be a good backup plan.
Reduced Operational Costs, Really
Allow us to take a different route to explain this point.
Spending on process automation solutions is a long-term investment. It is similar to buying a car. It is a huge investment up front. But in the long run, its benefits outweigh its costs. The other perspective is that if you are not able to save costs with technology, you might be riding on the wrong one or you have not made the circumstances to make it work for you. For instance, people do not even use half of the apps installed on their smartphones. We fancy high-spec phones but rarely make the best use of these devices. Sometimes the problem is also that of choosing the wrong category of device. If you are looking for some high-end photography, the ideal solution is a DSLR camera. You could do with a simpler smartphone.
Superior Customer Experience
Automated business processes go a long way in maintaining and elevating customer experience.
For starters, automated solutions are effective in monitoring and controlling the execution of service level agreements (SLAs) with various external entities involved in the value chain. Some of these business associates could be dealing directly with customers. Or the quality of their performance may carry implications on customer experience.
Next is the quality of internal operations like research and analytics, digital marketing, purchase and inventory management, warehouse/FC management, order fulfilment, order tracking, chatbots and voice support, etc. With process automation, workflows are faster, there is better internal coordination and integrated information-sharing, easy detection of deviations, etc. One way or the other, every process has a residual impact on customer experience. Automation reduces the chances of flaws and errors in these processes.
Performance and Coordination
With BPA solutions in place, it is easier for employees and managers to manage and keep track of their work and workflow progress. Customizable dashboards allow every team or department to organise their work independently of others and yet maintain coordination. It is easier for everyone to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for multiple projects. Report generation further helps in making accurate assessments. There is more transparency which is so important for teamwork and the work culture.
Almost Zero Paperwork
Maintaining papers is a heavy burden. It cripples the flow of work. It consumes a lot of time. It brings with it increased chances of errors. After years of operations, all the accumulated files become a space eater. Recovering a single page of document from one of the thousands of those files is nothing short of a nightmare. With process automation, every bit of data and information gets stored in the databases. The data processing is more accurate. With access rights, confidentiality could be also maintained. A lot of office space is also saved.
By choosing process automation, businesses get an opportunity to free up resources stuck because of operations being manual. For example, with the use of automated chatbots for customers, eCommerce businesses could reduce the strength of their customer support team. Only those issues that cannot be resolved automatically are elevated to the manual customer support team. Because such issues are lesser, instead of having a bigger team, a more experienced and qualified team could be formed who could also handle complex business operations.
Efficiency in Delegation and Better Executive Focus
Delegation is an effective solution for reducing the burden of superiors. And this applies to an entire organisation structure. As a reinforcing effect, business process automation solutions also empower enterprises to be efficient at delegating. With better operational sight and information sharing, responsibilities can be delegated with higher precision. For example, a BPM software can easily reveal if a certain task could be delegated to another available team member.
The top-level executives get the space and time to focus on the macro tasks when they have the surety and certainty about the business operations going in the planned directions while they can still keep an eye on what is happening.
Improved Readiness for Compliance
In today’s world, governments and their regulatory arms are not hesitant to impose hefty fines and penalties on defaulting businesses. If the global giants are not spared, what do you think our chances are? So, it is better to stay compliant with the laws of the land. With automation, you are in a position to dig into your records more easily and churn out data and information required to fulfil the regulatory norms. Take a routine check by labour department officials for example. Apart from other things, they may want to know how you are paying your daily workers. If you have the right payroll software in place, generating this report should be a matter of a few clicks.
An opportunity to create a healthy work culture
Automation has the capability to lend a great deal of transparency to workflow management. Or at least, it should. The chances of conflict in terms of work allocation and approvals are a major headache. Inducting process automation presents an opportunity to build and promote a healthy work culture. The sense of teamwork is boosted when people can see that they are a part of a team and their contribution to the team’s goals.
About Business Process Xperts (BPX)
BPX is a process management consulting brand with a scaling international presence. Driven by the goal of meeting global industry standards in service design and delivery, our projects are handled by qualified and experienced business process automation consultants.
To know more about our business process automation consulting services or to speak to one of our business process automation consultants, please drop us a message.
Chief Growth Officer
Nikhil is a calm and composed individual who has a master’s degree in international business and finance from the United Kingdom. Nikhil Agarwal has worked with 300+ companies from various sectors, since 2012, to custom-build SOPs and achieve operational excellence. Nikhil & his team have remarkable success stories of helping companies scale 10X with business process standardization.