The digital landscape of modern business is here to stay, and with it comes the opportunity to implement smarter, more efficient systems. As the manufacturing, distribution and supply industries move into the future, they can increasingly find support by using optimized digital systems, and business leaders continue to realize and seek the potential benefits of business process automation (BPA).
Companies use BPA to streamline and optimize operations in ways that previously seemed unattainable. It can lead to increased efficiency, higher productivity, and the elimination of human error, among other benefits – though it’s important to say that BPA does not necessarily entail the replacement of employees.
At its core, BPA is the implementation of modern technology solutions to reallocate resources and boost operational efficiency. But what exactly does BPA involve? And what are the key benefits of business process automation?
What is BPA?
Implementing BPA means incorporating software into your often-complicated business operations. This introduces connected technological systems which automate your overall process and workflow.
BPA works without human supervision or intervention, reducing your company’s manual efforts. Consequently, your business processes become error-proof, efficient and harmonized, and allow your employees to be realigned to high-value tasks which require a human touch.
A business process is suitable for automation if it involves repeated and clearly defined steps. This includes countless paper-based and analog processes. In a report conducted by Salesforce, 74% of IT and engineering executives said that automation of manual processes led to time savings of up to 30% in their workforce.
Manual input systems which could benefit from automation include:
The Order-to-Cash process: Automation of sales orders makes your company easy to do business with and delivers a frictionless customer experience for your buyers.
Supply chain management: BPA can provide unprecedented visibility into your supply chain, allowing you to proactively anticipate global disruptions, identify issues, and ensure the strength of your supply network.
Financial operations: Automating your AP and invoice process removes errors and avoids discrepancies, while simultaneously allowing you to deploy your workforce to high-value tasks.
Business Process Automation is not Business Process Outsourcing
Before we get into the benefits of Business Process Automation, it’s important to establish that BPA is different from BPO – that is, Business Process Outsourcing.
BPO essentially delegates repetitive, mundane, or laborious tasks to an outsourcing company. BPO companies traditionally rely on cheap or lower-cost human labor to deliver those tasks. Though BPO has long been a widely used method of increasing efficiency and productivity, in modern business the trend has shifted.
Business leaders have switched their focus to automating, rather than outsourcing, those repetitive tasks. This takes the human-error out of manual operations and requires businesses to implement the technology only once.
Though automation can never fully replace the human workforce, in an effort to remain competitive, many BPO companies have responded to the trend by adding some automated software solutions to their service offering.
10 Benefits of Business Process Automation
Many steps within business processes can be automated to reduce time and revenue losses as well as increase your overall operational efficiency. Using a purpose-built automation platform will impact your company through several significant business outcomes.
1. Error minimization
Human error is an inevitable part of manual processing. This is nothing to do with a lack of skill on the part of your employees – it’s a fundamental facet of human nature. We all make mistakes. Typing errors, missed figures, misplaced decimals, or delays are just a few of the errors your operations are open to with manual processing.
BPA removes the risk of that human error. Automation technology speeds up the process and improves data accuracy to 100%, totally eliminating errors while increasing efficiency.
2. Reduced costs
You can equate loss of profit with revenue lost due to operational inefficiencies. Every year, companies bleed cash as a direct result of an automation gap in their processes.
With errors minimized, you won’t need to spend money – or time – fixing problems. This leads to increased savings and revenue which can be used to add business value. You’ll also be able to increase output without expanding your employee base, effectively enhancing productivity without spending more on new salaries.
3. Increased efficiency
A business process achieves efficiency when it can reliably produce maximum output with minimum effort. With manual processing, this is practically impossible in the long-term. But with automation software consistently following a defined series of steps, pure efficiency becomes attainable.
BPA improves operational efficiency by increasing speed and quality while reducing errors. You’ll also gain streamlined communication channels and smoother management structures.
4. Maximize the potential of employees
The time lost by employees carrying out laborious and repetitive tasks is a major area of opportunity for your organization. The IT Chronicles report that office-based employees spend an average of 552 hours a year on administrative or repetitive tasks – that equates to 69 working days a year essentially wasted on activities that could be automated.
Not only is BPA capable of performing those administrative tasks quicker and more accurately than human employees, but it also allows your staff to be realigned to activities which add value to your business. In other words, your employees will be able to spend their work time more productively while administrative processes are carried out in the background.
This means your employees will be released from monotonous tasks and feel more engaged at work. Fulfillment and job satisfaction are important for high levels of productivity. Moreover, your business will retain staff far more effectively.
5. Increased productivity
Automation of laborious tasks leads to time-effective and systematic processes, meaning that digital software can handle your operations quickly and efficiently. BPA technology can also perform several activities at the same time, which adds up to new levels of productivity.
On top of that, BPA allows you to focus employees on high-value tasks. This will increase work engagement, a significant enabler of increased productivity.
6. Improved customer experience
Nowadays, both B2B and B2C customers demand an excellent customer experience. This means companies need to provide personalized, high-quality interactions with users at every stage of their journey. With BPA releasing your customer service employees from manual tasks, they will have the time and resources available to focus on servicing customers and building relationships. This gives your company a competitive edge in your industry.
Often, customers have many options when selecting a product or service provider. Convenience, accessibility, and exemplary service are some of the features that can tip the scales in your favor. Automation technology enables that optimized customer experience.
7. Standardization of processes
Because manual processing involves humans, and usually more than one, inefficiencies can grow. People all have their own working habits, administrative preferences and filing systems. With lots of people in the picture this can quickly become convoluted and messy.
BPA technology follows a predefined series of steps and never deviates from it. The process becomes reliable, consistent and logical. This creates a harmony in operations, where the process is followed with optimal efficiency every time.
In addition, a centralized system makes it easier for various departments to collaborate effectively. Automation removes the possibility of miscommunications and improves organization.
8. Scalability of processes
BPA will pave the way for business growth. As it does, the automated processes will be capable of growing with your business.
For example: a human employee may be able to provide five quotes to potential customers in one day. When that number rises to 50, they will struggle, and automation becomes necessary. As the business grows, and there are 500 or even 5000 requests for quotes, the same automation technology will be able to facilitate operations.
9. Creation of reliable records
Sometimes it is necessary to revisit specific stages of your process. BPA records every step, providing easy and instant access to review. It gives you insight and access into the process. You’ll be able to track documents and monitor their movements, and see who did what, when. This makes your business processes more accurate and reliable.
You’ll also gain the benefit of increased organization. This makes it easier to retrieve information to resolve a customer’s enquiry, or showing adherence to industry regulations, will be quick and simple.
10. Compliance with regulatory requirements
Every industry is subject to strict rules and governance about how businesses can operate. Failure to comply with these regulations can mean you incur penalties or expensive legal fees.
BPA allows you to set up measures that ensure you never run afoul of industry regulation. Automated operations reduce the risk of mistakes or errors slipping through the QA net.
Beginning Your Automation Journey
Numerous business processes can be optimized and, with BPA technology taking off in such a big way, now is the perfect time to begin the process of automation within your organization. It will yield several significant benefits, allowing you to grow and thrive, and future-proof your operations.
The Conexiom Platform offers purpose-built trade document automation that can instantly extract, transform, and deliver data from documents such as purchase orders and invoices into your system of record, like an ERP.
Our touchless and 100% accurate software provides automation solutions for a host of organizations just like yours, allowing them to totally transform the way they do business.
Book a free demo today to discover why Conexiom is the perfect partner on your automation journey.