Implementation of Business Process Automation at Work: Top Practices to Follow

Business Process Automation

By Andrey Koptelov

The business process automation (BPA) approach seems to be applied in every company eager to streamline its day-to-day operations and stay ahead of the curve. Indeed, 90.8% of organizations already integrate automation technologies into their workflows, and 50.6% use them on a large scale.

Applying business process automation solutions significantly reduces data processing delays and workflow disruption due to human error. In addition, BPA roll-out results in cost reduction, simplified procedures, and process visibility.

The main issue is how it impacts employees. Do automation solutions replace humans and leave no chances for them to keep working? Actually, successful companies try to find a balance between employees and technology. If achieved, the balance between human performance and smart automation deployment leads to an incredible boost to business efficiency, employee productivity, and customer satisfaction.

What to Automate?

Here are some examples of operations that can be automated regarding your business needs and determined goals:

  • Invoice processing

Automated three-way matching, coding, and routing may ensure properly carried out and tracked payment procedures.

  • Recruitment

Onboarding seems to have no end in sight—it is mostly an ongoing process that every company undergoes. Why not streamline it, applying e-signature, advanced employee data management, or automated benefits management?

  • Scheduling

An automated scheduling system can notify employees about the right timetable in case of any changes and register their performance, presence, and absence. Such an approach should be considered for fine-tuning the workflows and simplifying staff allocation.

  • Customer support

With a well-tuned 24-hour automated support system ensuring instant responses and a personalized approach, your company is more likely to meet the needs of demanding customers.

  • Sales management

CRM system implementation can facilitate sales agents’ daily operations, for example, by automating document filing, application and calls logging, and quote and contract management.

  • Accounting data reconciliation

Reconciliation with minimum human touch usually results in time-saving, enhanced transparency, error elimination, reduced fraud, and employee satisfaction.

Before bringing your BPA strategy to life, however, consider the following top practices.

Best Practices in BPA

1. Take the right direction

AI and ML deployment might simplify processes and improve results many times over, but it is hardly any substitute for a human being in a business process. However, it’s possible to improve workflows if automation solutions and employees work in tandem.

Automating specific processes within different departments allows the staff to concentrate on more important things requiring human intervention. But it is advisable to go through a step-by-step implementation process rather than automate it all in a go. Try to automate a single business process first as a pilot project, and after adjusting and making sure it functions perfectly, proceed to another one.

Pro tip: It is better to do a deep-level research of your current business situation to identify procedures that require high-priority automation.

2. Don’t ignore a proof of concept

While looking for an innovative solution to improve your company performance, a proof of concept (PoC) strategy is the right way to follow. PoC implies a demonstration of the practical feasibility of a solution or technology.

Going through this step may reveal the success or failure of the technology you are going to implement into your business. In addition, it may also validate whether the resources invested have paid off.

3. Get your staff involved

Every change in system management caused by automation may be met with frustration, requiring a kind of stepping out of the comfort zone, especially on the part of your employees.

To fine-tune the new changes to the needs of your business, it is worth paying attention to the staff as well—get them up to speed as soon as possible. In other words, guide them through an entire automation cycle, providing necessary information about the benefits of the new solution, involving them in every stage of the automation procedure, establishing roles, and ensuring team cohesion.

How about organizing brainstorming sessions and weekly training courses to get every stakeholder involved in the BPA process on board?

4. Prepare a backup plan

Any system has the risk of going down, so your company still needs to be prepared for it. Here is when a failover option can rescue the situation and ensure ongoing workflow performance.

Even though a failover usually happens automatically, it can require intervention by a tech specialist. Anyway, having an IT specialist who can restore the system and data is necessary rather than desirable. 

5. Continuous process improvements

The automation in place is only half the battle—the rest depends on the overall approach to business process management. In this regard, the lightning-fast change of tech tendencies forces companies to go for agile, flexible solutions.

Without continuous process improvements, you are likely to give your competitors a leg up. It is better to monitor automation performance in the early stages of implementation so that malfunctions can be eliminated in time without disrupting the workflows. You may leverage key performance indicators to evaluate the automation solution effectiveness.

Conclusion

The practices mentioned above show that the approach to automation should be carefully considered and constantly monitored. What suits one organization can only worsen the productivity of another one. Only ongoing evaluation, planning, monitoring, and system enhancements can ensure a long-term automation success.

About the Author

Andrey Koptelov

Andrey Koptelov is an Innovation Analyst at Itransition, a custom software development company headquartered in Denver. With a profound experience in IT, he writes about new disruptive technologies and innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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