How to contact us 01924 911333 [email protected]
A Comprehensive Guide to Business Process Automation hero-image

A Comprehensive Guide to Business Process Automation

We’re passionate about business automation because we’re passionate about making our clients’ lives easier. We believe in seeking out more efficient ways of doing things, and ultimately, this is what helps organisations thrive and grow.

If you’re drowning in paperwork, if your teams are wasting hours and hours on manual processing, or if there’s a lack of collaboration in your company, then you’re losing time and money. Inefficiency is a pet hate of ours, and our bespoke app development service is designed to save you time, money and headaches.

But when you’re new to automation, it can be hard to know where to begin. So here’s a comprehensive guide to automation in the workplace, including the lowdown on what it is, how it works, and how it can help you.

1. What is business process automation?

Business process automation (BPA) uses software in the automation of processes that are repetitive and often labour intensive. Compared to other types of automation, BPA can be complex and is tailored specifically to the needs of an organisation.

Many companies invest in business automation as part of their digital transformation strategy, with the goal of streamlining workflows and operating more efficiently.

In order to learn more about this type of automation, it’s important to understand what a business process is in the first place:

A business process is a collection of structured activities or tasks set out in a specific sequence that helps a business achieve its goals.

Examples of business processes include fulfilling a customer purchase order, creating and sending invoices, approving documents or applications, completing data entry, and HR tasks such as holiday requests and approval.

When managed manually, these workflows can involve multiple actions, documents and email threads. Anywhere along the line, human error or inefficiency can cause a knock-on-effect of communication breakdowns, bottlenecks or missed deadlines. The larger the organisation and the larger the workforce, the higher the possibility for these issues to amplify.

The purpose of automation is to prevent these problems from taking place, and at root level. With a business automation strategy in place, organisations can have better control of their day-to-day processes and ensure tasks are being completed in an efficient manner.

2. How can the automation of processes help me?

Automation in the workplace is an essential step for digital transformation, and the benefits can be realised across every industry and sector. For instance, the healthcare industry is predicted to save as much as $100 billion through AI, automation and the use of Big Data. While in manufacturing, productivity can be increased by 1.4% annually. And in finance, employees can claw back 20% of their time by automating repetitive tasks.

Here are some of the ways you can use automation software to support your growing business:

Save time

Being able to recoup valuable time is one of the biggest advantages of business process automation. Paperwork can take up several hours in the working day (per worker), but automation allows your employees to focus on more important aspects of their role, such as creativity and innovation.

Increase productivity

Having too many manual, repetitive tasks can cause bottlenecks at work. Not only can human error and inefficiencies result in project setbacks, but large manual workloads can make employees hate coming to work. Workplace happiness and productivity go hand-in-hand.

Reduce operational costs

Did you know that office workers spend nearly three hours a day searching for information, dealing with paperwork and processing documents? This costs global companies up to $5 trillion annually – ouch! By saving time and improving productivity, you can also save money.

Standardise business processes

Through automation, you can set a clear standard for processes moving forward. Standardisation ensures simpler workflows, better and more consistent outcomes, easier onboarding and training, and boosted output.

Minimise errors

Automated data entry is considered to be 99.99% accurate (you can’t really get any better than that!), meaning less discrepancies and fewer delays. While errors are still possible, the cause is almost always human – so make sure processes are optimised before automating.

Increase compliance

Another reason to invest in business automation is to improve compliance. The automation of processes provides trackable and auditable records, making it easier to check and report on regulatory compliance. With the right software, you’ll be able to set up security steps and measures, different access levels for staff, confidentiality protection, and suitable retention methods for personal data.

Provide a better customer experience

Happier workers who aren’t bogged down with manual tasks enjoy better job satisfaction and put more effort into their work, ultimately creating better products and services for customers. Automation also makes customer communications run smoothly, speeding up response time and enhancing their experience with your company.

Scale and grow

Automated processes at work help to increase scalability because these technologies grow with you. It can also make onboarding and training new members of staff easier, saving you time and money in the long-run.

3. Benefits of bespoke app development

One of the biggest advantages of bespoke app development for your business is being able to create a workflow management system that works for your specific needs, and the needs of your team.

Every business is unique, and therefore each solution should be too. While there are many off-the-shelf apps that could support your day-to-day operations, nothing beats custom software designed just for you.

Bespoke app development ensures that everything is optimised end-to-end, leaving no stone unturned. This approach also allows you to easily connect multiple departments and business functions, creating a better flow of information and data across the board.

Your own app also means you have full control of the continuous improvement process, meaning you can adapt the system as you grow and as operational structures or organisational objectives change and evolve.

our developer will know your system inside out, and they can work with you to improve the app in the future. With a standard solution, there’s no-one to support you in this way, and no possibility of developing the software further.

Many businesses spend time searching high and low for off-the-shelf software packages, and they can end up being far too complicated for their needs. Or on the flipside, what they are searching for may not exist at all.

Here are four positive case studies where bespoke app and system development has helped to improve business outcomes:

4. How to get started in your automation journey

Not knowing where to start or not having a plan in place can be major barriers to digital transformation, and can delay your automation journey. If you’re ready to get started with business process automation, here are the steps you should follow:

1. Consider your business goals

The very first step in your journey should be to reflect on the goals and objectives of your business. Bear in mind that this may differ depending on who you talk to so it’s vital to have all stakeholders on board. Each department will have their own grievances, inefficiencies and issues.
Remember to ask:

  • What is the current goal?
  • How can automation help us achieve this goal?
  • How will we measure progress and success?

It’s important to understand the purpose of automation. This is key to avoiding vanity projects that do not garner real, measurable results.

2. Identify processes to automate

Once you know what your objectives are, you can review existing processes within your organisation. Have a systematic approach for this and look at the wider processes that are adopted across the business, as well as department- or team- specific processes that are found in different business functions.

As a general rule of thumb, the best processes for business automation are:

  • Repetitive and rules-based
  • Day-to-day and labour intensive
  • Stable and unlikely to change

3. Get stakeholder buy-in

Stakeholders come in all shapes and sizes, and they aren’t just the members on the board or those who sign of budgets. You’ll need support from everyone in the business, particularly the end-users of the app or software. Don’t wait until the app has been developed or the technology has been deployed to get them involved.

Ask teams what they would like to see, promote the benefits of automation to prevent change resistance, and appoint an automation champion who can manage internal communications on all things automation-related.

4. Choose the right partners

Working with the right people matters. If you choose to go down the bespoke route and you don’t have the skills or resource in-house, partner with a development agency that is passionate about making positive changes in the modern workplace. The best developers work collaboratively and get to know you, your business, and your people to ensure a custom app that lines up with your goals.

It’s also beneficial to work with a team that can be there on an ongoing basis. Technology changes as time goes on, and so do businesses and their needs. So choose a partner that focuses on continuous improvement.

5. Establish KPIs and metrics

Before rolling out automation in the workplace, it’s essential to consider how you’re going to measure success. Some goals will be easier to measure than others, and some will be long-term while others may get you those short-term wins.

6. Don’t forget change management

New technology can cause stress and confusion for workers. People reject technology when they don’t understand it, or when they fear it (eg: if they think automation will result in job cuts). Make sure automation rollout runs smoothly by involving employees from an early stage. Provide adequate training and support, and seek continuous feedback from users so you can improve the way technology serves your team.

7. Strive for continuous improvement

With business process automation, you will also need to have a plan in place for continuous improvement. If you are working with an app development agency like us, you’ll be able to get the ongoing support you need. Compared to an off-the-shelf solution, bespoke software allows you to gather feedback and adapt the tools and features as you go.

Remember that businesses change over time, so your custom built app may need updating further down the line.

You may also want to automate additional processes, so hire an agency that intends to build a long-term partnership with you. To find out more about our bespoke app development services, get in touch with Identify Digital. Fill in our online contact form to chat all things automation.

Other Digital Transformation Insights

We're super proud to have worked with