Business process automation (BPA) can save companies time and money by making it easier for employees to perform repetitive tasks. But knowing which type of automation is right for your team and which automation projects to focus on can be tricky.
Business process automation can incorporate everything from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to low-code or no-code process automation tools, and it may be part of a larger digital transformation strategy at your organization.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to use business process automation to streamline workflows, reduce human error, and cut down on time spent on manual tasks.
What Is Business Process Automation?
Business process automation is an approach to business operations that uses software tools to automate key tasks. For example, an insurance company might use business process automation to process claims and cut down on manual paperwork.
BPA is distinct from business process management (BPM), which refers to a broader, big-picture approach to business operations. BPA is often used to streamline discrete tasks, although it can be part of an overarching BPM strategy.
Likewise, robotic process automation (RPA) can be used to complete tasks that don’t require much in the way of human decision-making. But these processes are usually narrower in scope and rely on simple “bots” rather than customized software.
The key to business process automation software is that it’s developed specifically for your organization and can handle more complex business processes. For example, it might involve using an application programming interface (API) to connect directly to existing software like a CRM platform or enterprise app.
Business Process Automation Use Cases
BPA software can be used in a wide range of industries, from IT to financial services. Departments that can benefit most from business process automation include sales, human resources (HR), and inventory management.
In short, any part of your business that involves repetitive tasks, from procurement to data entry, can benefit from modern automation technologies.
Here are just a few common use cases for BPA software:
Customer Relationship Management
Business process automation can be used at nearly any point in the customer journey or sales pipeline. Marketing teams can use BPA software to automate email and social media campaigns, while customer support agents can optimize the customer support experience using chatbots and self-service knowledge portals.
BPA can also be used in the customer onboarding process, such as by automatically verifying a customer’s ID against a database, rather than reviewing it by hand.
New employees can benefit from workflow automation during the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding process. Instead of attending in-person sessions to undergo training and fill out paperwork by hand, businesses can reduce inefficiencies and errors by requesting documents through an online HR platform.
This HR automation platform can continue to be useful throughout the hiring process, allowing employees to view their vacation days, request time off, or initiate a leave of absence, without relying on paperwork or clunky spreadsheets.
The insurance industry is ready for a transformation, as customers have come to expect instant quotes, an easy sign-up process, and the ability to file a claim online. BPA tools can streamline processes related to underwriting and claims processing, reducing the amount of time it takes to resolve issues and respond to customers.
Other use cases in the insurance industry include security checks to ensure regulatory compliance and reduce fraud.
Businesses in many industries are shifting to billing automation solutions to streamline the invoicing and billing process. Businesses can create templates to reduce the time it takes to generate new invoices, and send out follow-up reminders for bills that haven’t been paid. Companies can even integrate payment portals directly into the invoice.
Business process automation can also be used for purchase orders, payroll, inventory management, and a range of other financial and logistical needs.
When to Use Business Process Automation
Not all workflows are a good fit for business process automation: Tasks that only need to be done occasionally, or that require significant human input, may still need to be done the old-fashioned way. But many work streams can benefit from BPA solutions.
Here are three ways to know whether a process calls for automation:
- It requires multiple employees to complete. Tasks that require approval or input from multiple employees can be processed more efficiently with BPA. For example, purchase orders can be automatically sent to the vendor as soon as they’re approved, eliminating additional steps and unnecessary delays.
- It requires a paper trail. Some businesses require documentation to ensure regulatory compliance. Automated workflows can create a consistent record without the need for hard copies or disorganized spreadsheets.
- It consists of multiple repetitive tasks. Data entry, inventory management, and other recurring tasks may not require human input, and may take time away from more important responsibilities. The higher the volume of tasks, the more likely it is that BPA software can help improve your team’s efficiency.
5 Benefits of Business Process Automation
Business process automation can take some time to put into action, so it’s important to have a clear idea of what workflow issues you want your system to address.
By setting practical goals, it will be easier to determine whether your BPA rollout has been a success. Here are five benefits of business process automation to aim for:
1. Reduce Errors
Simply put, business process automation can cut down on manual errors during data entry and other routine tasks. In particular, robotic process automation can be used to perform calculations and enter data into forms and spreadsheets so employees don’t have to copy and paste data manually.
2. Improve Customer Satisfaction
BPA systems can improve customer satisfaction by integrating CRM software and customer support tools into a seamless customer experience. Customers can expect faster response times, more accurate information, and more personalized support via automated chatbots and customized marketing campaigns.
Customers can also benefit from behind-the-scenes BPA systems such as inventory management that can speed up orders and deliveries.
3. Scale Your Business
Scaling your business is easier when you have standardized workflows in place. BPA allows for a more efficient onboarding process, enabling new employees to get up to speed more quickly and master complex tasks.
Even complex business processes can be streamlined with the right BPA solutions, allowing you to deliver consistent products and services as your company grows.
4. Eliminate Bottlenecks and Inefficiencies
Some of the most common bottlenecks and inefficiencies are avoidable with business process automation. Sending out invoices, approving purchase orders, and processing insurance claims can all be streamlined with automated workflows.
HR tasks like vacation and leave of absence requests can be handled more easily, freeing up employees to focus on more human input.
5. Empower Employees
While enterprise-level CRMs can have a steep learning curve, no-code SaaS platforms make it easy to automate business processes even without a coding background. Your employees can simply drag-and-drop tasks in the user interface to create the most effective workflow for their needs.
By using a no-code BPA platform that’s accessible to everyone, you’ll reduce the need for top-down management and lengthy back-and-forths with your development team.
Use Pulpstream to Create Your BPA Workflows
Pulpstream makes it easy to develop business process automation workflows with no-code software that anyone on your team can use. Regardless of your industry, the size of your organization, or your level of technical expertise, you can create custom workflows to streamline business processes and enhance productivity on your team.
Plus, our easy-to-use interface is available for multiple device types and even supports offline access so your employees can access the tools they need anywhere and at any time. Request a demo of Pulpstream today to see our platform in action.