‘50% of all business processes can and should be automated.’ – McKinsey 2020
In his 2020 global survey, McKinsey found more and more businesses were turning to process automation, with two-thirds of businesses saying they were at least piloting automation, compared to 57% in 2018. Automation is clearly on the rise, let’s find out why.
By definition, business process automation refers to the automation of complex business processes using advanced technology. Beyond simple data manipulation or record-keeping, business process automation focuses on core processes that are pivotal in running businesses. These processes are driven by events, and/or are critical to the organisation’s overall mission.
Because the types of processes we are talking about are so different in nature, this means that the type of automation differs largely too.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Unfortunately, we aren’t talking of transformer-style robots – you’re probably not going to walk into work one day and see Optimus Prime or Bumblebee sitting at your desk. Despite this, RPA is still pretty impressive, and you’re probably already using this type of automation in your workplace today.
RPA refers to automation which is governed by configurations set by the user. These inputs will be based on a number of business logic and structures. Essentially, RPA is intelligent software! Processes that could be automated using RPA include transactions, automated emails, or triggered responses. Although simpler processes, and it is when they are coupled with artificial intelligence, that the ability to automate becomes much more compelling.
Business Process Automation (BPA)
Business process automation (BPA) is about utilising technology to automate activities and complete recurring tasks or business processes replacing the need for manual human input using business process software. It can reduce costs, increase efficiency and productivity, and be a great way to streamline processes and ensure steps are not missed.
Artificial Intelligence (Intelligent Process Automation)
Think of the chatbot. When you ask a chatbot a question, you’ll be presented with an answer that may or may not answer your question. It’ll then ask you ‘did I answer your question correctly?’
This is an example of where RPA and AI have combined to produce intelligent process automation. What the ‘bot’ is doing is picking out keywords in your text to determine the answer to your question. To do this, it – therefore – has basic cognitive capabilities. These are programmed through rules, but also through machine learning. This allows the machine to ‘sense’ ‘think,’ and then ‘act.’
It may all seem slightly surreal, but a clever mix of RPA and AI can really aid a business in reaching its full potential.
Again, another type of automation you may have already encountered. Server automation software can provide inventory management, deploy new software, and automate patching and compliance operations. Managing all of these tasks can be a huge cost to any business, especially when human error is factored in – and so wouldn’t process automation seem the obvious choice!
Like the server, a database can take up a huge amount of time and resources. Databases often require duplication (or cloning), system monitoring, and performance testing – all of which take up valuable time. As a business-critical application, it is essential to any business not to skip out on any of the above. However, doing this manually can take a database administrator away from tasks that will bring real value to a business, for example, performance tuning. Human error (as with the server) is decreased too.
As we’ve touched on lightly already, human error is a key benefit of process automation. When it comes to time-consuming, boring, or unfulfilling tasks, it is almost inevitable that you allow for a margin of human error. We just aren’t programmed to concentrate or focus on things that don’t interest us for long periods of time. We become bored, or tired, or both.
We also have the tendency to miss things. Think of when a new sign goes up in your workplace. After a while, the brain will naturally stop recognising the sign, and begin to ignore the message. It’s a natural phenomenon, and it’s why businesses have communication departments, to try and get around this potential detriment.
However, it’s not just human error that should persuade you to automate your processes. There are several other benefits that are enjoyed by businesses that automate. These include:
Although some may argue that the machine is taking a job of a human, this is really not the intended desire or motivation. Automated processes are designed to enhance workflow, and work alongside human capabilities to be of benefit not just to the business, but to each individual.
With the extra time gifted to individuals, individual and team creativity has the opportunity to flourish. This can only be a good thing, with studies showing that creativity is a cultivator of positivity, contributing to a happier, healthier, and more positive working environment.
First, you need to identify which processes can be automated. This will usually be indicated by a number of factors:
Not all processes should be automated. Tasks that include a level of uncertainty, ambiguity, or creativity – human intelligence far outweighs that of a computer.
If you’ve ever wondered why companies are keen to recruit staff that stay – take a look at the tasks involved with onboarding new employees. Filling out induction forms, bank details, collecting relevant documents… the list goes on.
Process automation can be a life-saver when it comes to this time-consuming (perhaps, all-consuming sometimes?) process. Using BPA can ensure that all concerned parties are well-informed and endless paperwork is avoided. For example, an employee’s details will most likely need to be distributed across different platforms. Automation would enable the HR administrator to fill these out just once, and voila! The machine does the rest.
The chatbot is the golden example of an automated customer support process. This is a great way of ensuring that customers receive round-the-clock support. Other examples include automated telephone customer support systems – although this option is probably not as popular with the consumer.
Auditing uses robotic process automation (RPA). When it comes to auditing, the main advantage of using RPA rather than manual effort is the decrease in human error. With audits often being tied up with compliance or legal issues, the higher the accuracy, the better.
We should also mention that software that audits automatically can do almost 2 x faster than a human. Just another tick in the box for process automation…
Writing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Content
Last, but very much not least, let’s include a creative task where humans and machines complement each other. Writing is very much considered a creative skill. However, with Google now determining who will read your work depending on a number of factors such as keyword density, the layout, etc, online writers now need to write in a way that showcases creativity but appeals to a machine that decides on what content is the most valuable to the reader.
It certainly can’t write your content for you (thank goodness for all writers out there!), but it can scan through your content to ensure that the content is meeting all of your requirements. Have you included enough keywords? Is the structure suitable? If the answer is yes, the content can be published. If not, a few tweaks, and you’re good to go.
This is just one example of where machine intelligence complements human creativity to ensure smooth, productive, and efficient working.
Business process automation can be something you do alone or incorporate as part of a larger process improvement initiative:
Business Process Improvement (BPI) – Locating business processes that are not performing well and improving efficiency.
Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) – Start building business processes from scratch. Re-designing a process or using different technologies or equipment.
Business Process Management (BPM) – Systematic process improvement.
Have we convinced you to take the step (or leap) into process automation? Here at Checkify, we offer business process management software that enables you to document business processes, run them with built-in guides for team members continual reference and automation steps in the process.
Know what each person is doing and where you are within a process and get real-time updates and notifications.
Pave your path to process excellence.
Use process management software and business process automation software to execute recurring tasks or processes
Change management is a systematic approach to implementing change within a business, whether it’s a new system or a new and better way of doing things.
Change management guides how you prepare, equip, and support people in your organisation to adapt to change. Clearly explaining what will change, why it needs to change, and how it will be actioned. The ultimate goal is to drive success in your business and achieve critical outcomes.
Design of experiments (DOE) is a systematic methodology that identifies the connection between elements affecting a process and the output of the process.
DOE is a branch of applied statistics that evaluates the factors controlling the value of a parameter through conducting, planning, analysing and interpreting controlled tests.
Many helpful change management models, methodologies and theories (Glossary) can be used in the change process. All have been effectively applied to businesses to help deal with the transition process and change.
Change models vary some focus on how businesses should approach all aspects of change, while others focus on employees’ responses to change.
The ADKAR Model is a simple tool to help the change process. Breaking it into its most basic critical elements, where each step outlines a successful journey.
ADKAR is an acronym representing the five principles of implementing changes successfully. Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. The approach sets goals for change management that increase the success rate. It’s a practical system that takes your process a step at a time.