What is business process automation (BPA)?

Business process automation services involve streamlining an organisation’s processes using technology. Tasks that are low-skill or repetitive are outsourced to computer software, allowing reallocation of human resources elsewhere and workflow automation.

Usually, BPA involves tasks that are complex and utilises multiple different types of interconnected software in order to carry out those tasks. 

BPA is often confused with business process management (BPM). BPM is a continuous process that leads to gradual improvement of the business as a whole, whereas BPA software targets specific processes.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is another similar process that involves using artificial intelligence to carry out automated processes that are specific, but usually not very complex. Often it involves installing a single type of robotic process software that operates separately from other systems. 

Business process automation can involve RPA, as it utilises multiple types of software at once. BPM can also involve BPA as part of the continuous business development, but doesn’t have to.

 

How can process management software help?

Now you understand what business process automation services are, it’s time to learn how they can help your organisation.

There are a variety of advantages to business process automation, including:

  1. Efficiency - Processes that are automated often take less time than if they were carried out manually, and allow you to use your human resources elsewhere. This will improve your overall business efficiency. 

  2. Reduce costs - Paying workers costs money; automation can save you money on employee wages. Implementing automation strategies can also reduce spending by identifying areas of inefficiency and reducing waste.

  3. Staff satisfaction - Automation can take away boring and monotonous tasks that staff dislike, and even dangerous tasks that may pose a risk to staff otherwise. This protects staff, but also allows them to carry out more fulfilling duties.

  4. Insight - Before automation can be implemented, you need to identify all aspects of the business that will be involved, giving you a clear overview you might not otherwise get. The improved ability to track business processes and analyse data that comes with automation can also help you see the bigger picture.

  5. Reduce errors - Employees aren’t perfect, and human error is inevitable. However, automating processing previously carried out by staff ensures standardisation and eliminates human error.

business staff members in box, software

But as with any new project, there are some challenges that come with automating your business processes. 

Cost

Purchasing and implementing new software comes with an associated cost. However, often the initial outlay is offset by the long term savings automation can bring.

Safety

Whilst processes are carried out manually, there are limited security risks; only approved staff are able to gain access to sensitive information. But once these processes are automated digitally, it’s important to consider your cybersecurity and whether it’s secure enough to protect your newly vulnerable information.

Overall, despite these issues, many businesses decide business process automation is of huge benefit to their organisation.

Who can benefit from business process automation services?

You may be wondering whether automation is applicable to your business.

With so many ways automation can be implemented, it can provide huge benefits to a real variety of sectors.

Healthcare

From appointment booking to records maintenance, and logistical scheduling to prescribing, there are many areas a healthcare organisation can benefit from business automation.

Manufacturing

With so many processes that require checking and all the associated documentation, process automation software can be a huge help in this sector. Many manufacturing processes can be controlled with the right business automation design.

Logistics

This industry relies heavily on live tracking, route generation processes, and label production; all important tasks that can be carried out with the right automation software. Logistics business process automation can reduce journey times, and massively improve product delivery efficiency.

IT

Many IT companies can easily automate business processes by using the right management software. Processes like error ticketing and automatic resolution, maintenance functions, and report generation can all be done automatically.

Financial services

Payments can be processed and approved instantly. A digital transformation for financial processes can help you reach a wider clientbase around the world, and improve customer service with reduced processing times.

This list includes some of the many areas that commonly benefit from process automation, however, it is not exhaustive. 

If your organisation doesn’t fit into one of these boxes, here are some process areas that particularly benefit from automation, regardless of your business niche.

  • Repetitive tasks - Data input, inventory management, and other repetitive, low-skill tasks are examples of areas that can benefit from business process automation services. Human resources can then be better utilised in other more demanding areas of the business.

  • Document management - Whether that’s processing incoming documents, storage and archiving, or approving and signing, this is another area where automation can be the ideal management solution. Automating business processes around document handling can speed up workflow dramatically.

  • High-risk manual tasks - Certain tasks are dangerous and pose a risk to staff and health and safety. Whether that’s driving in hazardous conditions, exposure to radiation, or working underground, there can be a serious risk to human health.

While risk assessments can help reduce the associated risks, automating these processes removes the human factor and, therefore, the risk of injury and harm.

  • Research - Many businesses rely on processing a lot of data in order to function, whether that’s in the field of science, law, healthcare, finance, or other areas. Automating databases and information gathering processes can save a lot of time and effort, and can have massive financial consequences. 

  • Sensor monitoring - Businesses with production lines or large-scale manufacturers will have a variety of tasks that require constant or regular monitoring. Often these checks are carried out by a member of staff, whose job it is to monitor the sensors and respond when the alarms sound. Automating this process frees this member of staff to work elsewhere, but can also be more efficient as the response time can be quicker.

manager and office on computer screen

Choosing the right BPA software for you

With so many options available, it can be hard to know the best option for your organisation. Here are some things to consider:

What are you automating? 

Is it repetitive tasks previously carried out by staff? Does it involve data input? Financial transactions?

The tasks you’re automating will impact that type of platform that’s most suitable for you. It’s no good investing in a software application that doesn’t solve your tasks, or makes them more complicated to carry out than anticipated.

What features are you looking for?

The right software with your ideal features can help make the whole process easier. Whether you’re looking to focus on sales targets, client information, or logistics tracking, it’s important you have all the software features you need.

Certain additions are useful for almost all automation needs, including workflow tracking, cloud based storage and top-quality security features to prevent from digital attacks.

Does it integrate well with current systems?

You don’t want your new software to clash with your pre-existing systems, so research possible products thoroughly  to ensure compatibility during your business transformation. 

Hiring external contractors to analyse your existing system compatibility and support you through the process can save you money and time down the line. This can save you purchasing software that isn’t compatible that will require an overhaul of existing systems.

Cost

This can be a massive factor in the automation process; with software options varying so much, finding a package with all the desired features that also suits your budget can be a challenge.

However, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Investing in software that’s cheaper but not up to the job will cause issues further down the line, and will not financially benefit you long term.

Despite higher upfront costs, it can be worth investing in a more comprehensive software package, as this will benefit your organisation financially overall.

Custom vs off-the-shelf business process automation software

When deciding on the best type of BPA software for your organisation, you’ll need to decide if you’re looking for a pre-existing automation platform, or would like to hire a software development company to design one specifically for you.

Pre-existing software can be quickly implemented, allowing the automation process to begin immediately. 

There are often lower upfront costs too, as there are usually options to pay via monthly installments rather than one large initial payment. Whilst you may not be able to tailor this type of product to your needs, many companies offer a free trial of their platform to ensure it’s a good fit.

Custom made business process automation software can be created to your exact specifications. Despite initial costs being higher, it can be designed to include every tool you’re looking for without any additional confusing aspects, allowing a seamless automation process and saving you money overall. 

You own the platform outright, so there are no ongoing monthly costs as with pre-existing software. Custom software is designed to integrate perfectly with your current systems, with software engineers on hand to deal with any teething issues and modify the software accordingly.

If you are interested in custom BPA software, Laracle can help. We are a software development company specialising in bespoke software products that are designed from the ground up to exact client specifications. If you’d like to hear more about how we can help your automation process, contact us today.

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