- Improved productivity: Process automation is a key means of increasing efficiency in organizations. It takes manual, time-consuming tasks away from people. It also integrates multiple processes into a single workflow. This removes bottlenecks and can vastly increase business productivity.
- Greater agility: Automating data collection, aggregation, and synthesis, particularly for large information sets, can facilitate better informed and faster decision-making.
- Improved customer experience: With streamlined processes, queries can be organized and answered quickly and at greater scale. Modern approaches to managing the customer experience introduce features such as chatbots at key stages of the process. These allow the customer to get to the next stage faster, without human assistance.
- Increased compliance: With automation, all processes are carried out with precision and regularity. No corners are cut. No steps in a process are missed or forgotten. Whether it relates to internal policy and standards or external regulation, process automation can help to increase compliance.
- Reduced costs: Companies can use process automation for digitizing and standardizing processes. This particularly applies to repetitive, human-intensive tasks. According to Forrester, this has the potential to reduce operating costs by up to 90%.
- Better utilization of staff: Eliminating tedious, repetitive tasks allows employees to redirect their time to activities that add more value to the business. They will have higher rates of satisfaction, while improving business outcomes.
- Fewer errors: Getting an order wrong or having an incorrect address are problems that can be resolved. However, these all take up valuable time. If those problems start to affect customers, they can negatively impact the entire business. Process automation can minimize the chance of human errors and cut the amount of unnecessary re-work.
Best Practices for Implementing Process Automation
A variety of different methods are recommended for implementing process automation. However, they broadly fall under five main headings.
- Goals: Any successful process automation endeavor has to start with clear goals. What are you looking to achieve from your process automation implementation? As described above, cost reductions or improvements in customer satisfaction or productivity are likely to feature prominently.
- Opportunities: Identify which areas within your business are most likely to be enhanced by process automation. Typically, the most effortful processes will offer the best chances for improvement. A feasibility study will prove whether these processes are suited for automation.
- Tools: Various process automation tools are available, ranging from the simple to the complex. These have very different capabilities. It’s therefore important to research which is the best one for you. You’ll need to take what you’ve learned from the first two steps and make an informed decision. Compare process automation solutions against each other and against what you need from them.
- Change management: any change in your business process means a new way of working. Ensure that your teams understand what is happening and why. Deloitte believes that “those that see the greatest benefits from automation will have engaged in entity-wide transformations.” It goes on to say that these should be, “rooted in forward-looking, human-centric strategies”. Involving your employee up front, and careful communication throughout your process automation project may be necessary to ensure it is carried out smoothly.
- Monitor and evaluate: Regular assessments of the automation initiative should begin long before its implementation. What metrics do you need to put in place to know that it is working as planned? This will ensure it continues to deliver against your original business goals.
Challenges of Implementing Process Automation
Process automation is not a set-and-forget solution. Businesses must monitor and regularly evaluate the automation’s effectiveness. This will maximize your ROI. BPM monitoring is the ideal way to measure business processes and compare performance across them. It can pick up duplications or repetitive tasks and identifies problems that cause performance issues. Allowing you to take concrete steps to make improvements and track progress.
The possibilities for process automation are virtually endless. But while implementing process automation can have many benefits, it’s better not to automate certain processes - particularly those that require a “human touch”. Very few processes are fully automated. Most will require some human oversight or intervention. For this reason, the tools and interfaces that employees use to manage automated processes must be intuitive and user-friendly.
There are limited gains to be had from automating single department processes. The real benefits come from automating and optimizing cross-functional processes that span departments and silos. However, there is often a trade-off to be made between ease-of-use, sophistication, and affordability. Many process automation tools are cheap and user-friendly, but don’t scale beyond individual departments. And many BPM tools have this broader capability, but are hard to use and expensive.
Looking for the Right Solution To Automate Your Processes?
OutSystems is a state-of-the-art low-code platform. It allows you to deliver brilliant web and mobile workforce apps, employee portals, and operational dashboards. It offers best-in-class user experience and superior integration to third party systems of record. It is therefore a great tool to build custom applications that automate and orchestrate your unique cross-functional workflows.
These allow for greater productivity and operational efficiency. OutSystems’ AI-powered, automated impact and dependency analysis also allows you to take an adaptive and iterative approach toprocess improvement.
To learn more about it, visit our Process Automation page and give OutSystems a try.