Whether you’re part of a large global corporation or a small enterprise, your operations are made up of several processes that produce or achieve an intended outcome. Each of these processes is made up of several activities, tasks, procedures, or workflows. They can be internal-facing processes that solely involve the people within an organization or external-facing processes that include customers and collaborators. Many of your short-term or long-term business objectives can be achieved by continuous review and improvement of these activities, tasks, procedures, workflows, and processes.
Business process management is a field of knowledge or area of practice that involves employing various methods to capture, simulate, evaluate, quantify, and automate the essential processes of your operations. It is distinct from project management, which includes the application of processes to complete a project or achieve that project’s objectives. Business process management may be a part of project management, especially if employing a repeatable process helps complete the project.
Business process automation involves the use of technology to automate complex processes to achieve your goals. These goals can be quantitative, such as improving profits by a percentage or dollar amount in a certain time frame. They can also be qualitative goals like improving customer service or retaining employees. Automation is one of the advantages of business process management. In a field or company that includes processes that must be duplicated, automating these processes can yield several benefits for your organization.
Exploring the Benefits of Automation in Business
Even within a particular field or geographic industry, no two businesses have the same priorities, needs, and goals. While different enterprises have different objectives, the general approach to automation is more or less the same. Processes that are typically completed by humans are done through mechanical or electronic processes. Machines and computer software can often complete various actions, tasks, procedures, and processes faster, more precisely, more accurately, and for longer durations. This goes to the heart of why automation is important in business. Consider these business process automation benefits.
1. Improved Productivity
Increased productivity is one of the most important business process automation benefits. Productivity can be thought of as the quality of being able to create or generate products or services. It’s also a measure of the speed at which your business deliverables or products are brought forth for exchange. Every organization, including non-profits, government entities, and institutions of learning, benefits from better productivity.
Many companies employ business tools to improve productivity, such as computers, mobile devices, and software. Ironically enough, many organizations find that the time it takes to learn and employ productivity tools lowers productivity. This is what is known as the “productivity paradox.” By using machines and devices to complete the processes, you can lower or eliminate this slowdown in delivering work.
2. Better Efficiency
Think about some of the most repetitive tasks in your operations. Consider the number of people involved in these repetitive tasks. Now think about the inefficiencies that can accumulate when you consider the various tasks that become workflows and ultimately processes. Automation allows you to minimize the resources associated with repetitive activities, which improves efficiency. The following are examples of how automation helps business efficiency:
- Speed: Software robots or bots can often repeat actions at a much faster rate than humans. Think about how quickly a calculator or computer can perform mathematical operations with large numbers. Accomplishing more in a shorter period of time is ideal for better efficiency.
- Correctness: People make mistakes and sometimes forget to do things. Automated robotic processes can significantly reduce, if not eliminate, human error from procedures and processes.
- Round-the-Clock Operations: Bots don’t need to take breaks, use the restroom, or go to sleep. Whereas humans require shifts for safe operations, software robots can run 24/7, even when your business is closed.
- Analytics: Automation technology can provide insights and data reports to help you identify performance issues in your processes. A team of people crunching numbers all day may miss trends, whereas a bot can highlight inefficiencies, errors, and slowdowns in processes.
3. Increased Profitability
Your company is in the business of making money. Success is based on your ability to maximize the amount of revenue you generate and minimize your operational costs. If your business isn’t profitable, it won’t be around for long. You’re familiar with the adages “time is money” and “work smarter, not harder.” Technology-based automation allows you to save time and money, mainly by transferring repetitive, resource-intensive processes from humans. Software robots can do greater amounts of work in less time. Instead of paying people to complete processes inefficiently, you can reallocate employee resources to core operations, especially ones that require a human touch.
4. Reliability and Consistency
Imagine if you asked an employee with the best penmanship to write their signature 100 times in a row. Even if that person was able to do so, you’d likely see differences in how each signature was written, especially the 100th time. Now imagine that same employee writing their signature 1,000 times or 10,000 times!
Suppose you have an electronic process that can also generate multiple signatures. That technology can give you reliable output for a higher number of repetitions. Equally important, the signature would be identical on the hundredth time, the thousandth time, and more. Reliability and consistency are valuable business process automation benefits to any company.
5. Less Errors
It’s been said that the only sure things in life are death and taxes, but anyone can tell you that “human error” should be added to the list. A lack of knowledge, inexperience, and fatigue are just a few of the things that can lead to errors in work. Imagine delivering a product to a client that is missing key components due to human oversight. Either way, you would lose money by offering a refund or replacing the faulty product with another one.
No business can afford to lose time and money through repeated errors, especially ones that require rework or production downtime. Automating these processes helps to eliminate errors and omissions, resulting in improvements in other areas, including productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
Businesses don’t operate in a vacuum. Companies are often subject to regulations and business standards that they must comply with or maintain in order to do business with certain clients or to operate in certain geographic locations. Compliance and regulatory adherence business processes are convenient for automation.
Transferring these processes to technology provides an additional level of oversight and quality assurance/quality control. Failure to comply with rules or maintain standards can have serious consequences, making it difficult or impossible to stay in business.
7. Customer Service and Client Satisfaction
Repeat business and reputation are air and water for successful operations. Any company that has unhappy customers will go out of business sooner or later. One of the most critical business process automation benefits is better customer service. Providing deliverables that are fast, high-quality, error-free, and consistent is critical to client satisfaction. Technology-based automation helps you meet, if not exceed your customers’ expectations. They will come back for additional business, helping to establish and maintain a positive reputation for your company.
Profitable companies have to be able to meet the demands of their businesses. As your secure larger and more complex contracts, the ability to scale your operations is essential. It’s generally easier and less expensive to increase technological resources for larger work packages or projects than it is to increase the number of employees and equipment to achieve the same work. Hiring additional employees can be a costly and lengthy process, potentially compromising your ability to deliver on time. You also don’t have to worry about firing machines and computers if you need to scale down.
When your business processes are automated, they are much more transparent. This can be especially useful when it’s time to review the effectiveness of your operations. It can also aid with auditing, which is critical for work that involves compliance with regulatory standards. Transparent processes also help with accountability. Your staff can better monitor performance and progress, especially against automated and standardized tasks, procedures, and workflows.
10. Better Collaboration
No business is an island, and neither is the internal and external teams that keep things moving. Good collaboration is vital to your success. Processes that are transparent, consistent, complete, and correct lead to improved collaboration inside and outside of your organization. Automation helps makes things simple, which can help reduce stress and eliminate other obstacles to collaboration. You can leverage tech-based automation to create notifications, reminders, and sessions that improve team productivity, efficacy, creativity, and communication.
Additional Advantages of Automation
You’ve probably noticed that business process automation benefits go hand-in-hand. Improved productivity parallels progress in efficiency and profitability, for example. Business process automation can bring other benefits to your operations, such as digital transformation and document control. Automated systems can take advantage of cloud-based platforms, eliminating the use of paper documents, which are inefficient, inconsistent, and susceptible to destruction.
Reduction of the use of paper is an important goal for organizations that value sustainability and eco-friendliness. Another benefit of automation involves employee morale. Productive, efficient, and profitable work environments improve employee morale, leading to better employee retention and satisfaction.