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How Business Process Automation Increases Efficiency and Reduces Costs

by David Mainville on

To maintain their competitive edge, companies must continue to look for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs.  Business Process Automation (BPA) automates the process of repetitive and costly tasks, thus freeing up time and resources for more critical operations and allowing organizations to maximize efficiency while reducing costs.


In this blog post, we will cover the basics of BPA, including:

  • What is BPA
  • BPA Vs. Business Process Management
  • The Benefits of BPA
  • BPA Examples
  • Identifying Candidates for Process Automation
  • The Best Approach to Automating Your Business Processes
  • BPA Software
  • BPA Challenges

What is Business Process Automation

The goal of Business Process Automation (BPA) is to automate the process of manual tasks and activities, allowing organizations to maximize efficiency while reducing costs.  Business process automation (BPA) uses technology to automate mission critical business processes and tasks. 

The objectives of business process automation (BPA) are to increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve accuracy and consistency, enhance collaboration, and streamline processes.

By providing real-time insights, BPA can eliminate manual and repetitive tasks, improve data accuracy, and speed business operations decision-making.

BPA can also free employees to focus on higher-level tasks requiring more creativity and critical thinking. By automating routine tasks, companies can reduce errors, improve productivity, and provide better customer service.

The automation is done through various automation platforms, including robotics process automation (RPA), integrated workflow management solutions, and business intelligence (BI) software. 

Business Process Automation is a core component of digital transformation initiatives and the Digital Enterprise.   

Business Process Automation Vs. Business Process Management.

People often interchange the terms Business Process Automation (BPA) and Business Process Management (BPM).

Ideally, BPA is an outcome of a robust BPM program.  In fact, a robust BPM program is essenial for a successful Digital Transformation initiative.

BPA uses technology to automate routine business processes and standard operating procedures. The focus is on automating existing business processes and making them more efficient using robotics process automation (RPA) or workflow automation technologies.

On the other hand, Business Process Management (BPM) is a holistic approach to managing all aspects of a company's processes. It optimizes operations by identifying waste, streamlining business processes, collaborating between departments, and implementing controls to ensure accuracy and quality.

The main activities of BPM include: 

  1. Process Discovery: This is the first step in your business process management (BPM) initiative. The goal is to fully understand the in-scope processes. This includes identifying what tasks are being performed, who is responsible for each task, and how these tasks are being carried out.  Understanding how things are done today helps identify gaps and make improvements.  Discovery can be done through interviews, workshops and by using automated business process capture, process discovery and process intelligence software.
  2. Process Modeling:  Once you've discovered your processes, it is essential to document them clearly and consistently. This involves making visual representations of your processes through flowcharting, swimlanes or other business process mapping techniques.  It is also important to capture goals, objectives, roles and responsibilities, metrics, policies and governance. Check out this introduction to process mapping article for some ideas to get you started.
  3. Process ManagementEnsuring your processes deliver value is an important management activity for today's digital businesses. Management requires that process metrics and controls defined as part of process modeling are measured and managed. This responsibility falls upon the process owner and the process manager.
  4. Process Optimization and Improvement:  Service improvement is at the core of companies' transformational journeys. You should review every process regularly with an eye on improving efficiency, reducing cost, and reducing waste.  
  5. Process Automation: This involves automating a set of activities or business rules in BPM or workflow management software. The key to successful business process automation is well-defined processes and precise requirements.  

Organizations that practice BPM will be more successful at automating their business processes. These organizations have a much better understanding of their current business processes and opportunities for improvement. 

They also tend to have a more structured approach towards automation, improving their chances of success.

Remember, Process Automation is a subset of an overall Business Process Management program. 

What are the benefits of Business Process Automation?

Why automate business processes? The benefits of Business Process Automation include the following;  

  1. Increased efficiency and accuracy: Automating repetitive, rules-based tasks eliminates manual errors and increases speed and accuracy.
  2. Improved customer experience: Automation allows organizations to provide better service by giving customers faster access to resources or answers to their queries.
  3. Access to data insights: Automation gives organizations real-time data to make informed decisions.
  4. More time for innovation: Automating tasks frees up resources for more innovative projects. These projects could be improving the customer experience or driving more revenue.
  5. Reduced costs: How does business process automation reduce costs?  It is actually a combination of all of the above points.  Less waste due to errors,  improved customer retention, and improved data to improve efficiency and innovation.  Combine this with reduced labor costs through automated processes, and BPA provides a tremendous opportunity for savings.

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Business Process Automation Examples

Business process automation through application software can drastically improve operational efficiency and reduce costs by automating repetitive tasks.  Let's take a look at some of the problems business process automation can solve:

  1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an automated system using software agents. It can perform repetitive, manual tasks such as data entry or updating customer records. One example of RPA is the approval of a credit card based on information provided by an applicant.  
  2. Workflow Automation: Workflow automation is one of the most common forms of process automation. A typical example is an employee onboarding request. The automation platform coordinates requests across departments such as facilities management, information technology, payroll, benefits administration, and human resources. It then tracks the request through to completion.
  3. Document Generation: Document generation uses software to generate documents automatically, such as policies and contracts, based on user input. Many sales departments use process automation to create quotes. They also use it to generate contracts, route contracts for signature, create purchase orders, and then file the signed agreements.
  4. Customer Support: Chatbots are a type of process automation. They leverage artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies to automate customer service and support. Chatbots offer an engaging and efficient way for customers to access information or assistance.  Automating basic tasks frees up resources to focus on more complex customer issues.
  5. ITSM and Network management.  Process automation is not only limited to business processes.  Various IT workflows, such as provisioning, can benefit from process automation to improve efficiency and reduce errors.
  6. Digital Transformation:  Digital transformation is leveraging digital technologies to create new business models, methods, products, services, and experiences for customers and employees. 

Create a succesful Digital Transformation Initiative

Identifying candidates for process automation. 

Identifying a particular business process to automate starts with a keen understanding of your current business processes and systems. 

Identifying suitable candidates for a business process automation solution will be easy if your company has a robust and adequately staffed Business Process Management program. That's part of their job!

If that is not the case, you must start by meeting with teams across the organization. You must identify where team members spend substantial time on low-value, repetitive processes. 

You can do this through a series of workshops and brainstorming sessions. It's essential to have some key team members, not only managers, attend these sessions. These team members will have a much deeper understanding of the processes and potential areas for improvement. 

Use the information collected to identify a short list of processes that could benefit from automation. 

What is the best Approach to Implementing Process Automation?


Industry analysts estimate up to 50% of process automation projects fail to deliver benefits. Here is a business process automation methodology
that will improve the success of your next BPA project. get your process automated

  • Identify areas that would benefit from automation. Look for quick wins, such as areas with many repetitive tasks.
  • Conduct interviews and workshops with the key stakeholders to map their existing processes. Speak with as many people as possible, as the information may be scattered. Remember, you can't automate what you don't understand.
  • Analyze the existing processes to find trends or opportunities for improvement.  Automating a flawed process will create more significant problems down the road.
  • Keep the automation platform (or your implementation partners) from driving the project. Always start with the business process.
  • Additionally, organizations should employ Business Process Management (BBM) practices. The practices will ensure the processes are well-governed, efficient, and adaptable to changing conditions.  

Organizations that optimize their business processes by employing these strategies can improve productivity and reduce costs. 

Business Process Automation Tools

The business process automation market is growing rapidly, and keeping pace with the changes is essential.  Here are some of the software categories you should look at when selecting a business process automation tool.

  1. Robotic Process Automation. Utilizes "bots" installed into your existing software to perform routine tasks. The bots execute workflows developed in a "codeless" drag-and-drop user interface or captured as a recording of employees' work. Here is a link to a list of RPA software reviews.
  2. Intelligent Automation Platforms. These are typically software suites that are the central hub for a company's automation efforts. They contain RPB, AI, and machine learning elements and can support very high volumes of transactions.
  3. Workflow Automation Platforms.  These are the more traditional automation platforms typically intended to automate mission critical processes in a specific business domain. Examples include IT Service Management process automation platforms, Marketing Automation Platforms, or Sales Force automation platforms.
  4. Business Process Modeling Tools:  While not specifically an automation platform, business process modeling tools are crucial for any organization that wants to achieve success with Business Process Automation.  They help in visualizing, analyzing, and designing business processes, providing a clear understanding of how things work before automating them.  Check out our guide to selecting a business process modeling tools.

Remember that these tools are not a "silver bullet." You still need to identify and map the processes you wish to automate. You also need to monitor the process, ensuring they continue to deliver value. The more power the platform you adopt, the more critical it is that you have a robust Business Process Management program.


Business Process Automation Challenges

Adopting BPA can come with several challenges, including:

  • a lack of knowledge regarding automation capabilities,
  • difficulty integrating existing systems and applications into a unified view,
  • and a need for sufficient data to facilitate accurate analyses.  

One of the most common challenges when automating business processes is having a clear picture of the end-to-end process.  This problem is especially true in large organizations. Pieces of the process reside in different departments. Some information may only live "in the heads" of many stakeholders.  Time must be invested in mapping the existing process before automation.  Check out our guide to selecting a business process mapping tool

There are costs associated with introducing automation solutions into an organization.  These costs include the technology, implementation expenses, and hiring (or training) the business process automation staff.  The productivity gains will offset these costs.

There are also ethical considerations regarding the implications of replacing jobs with an automated process.  The organization is responsible for assessing the impact on the staff and proceeding ethically.

Get your process automated today and enjoy the benefits of streamlined operations, faster turnaround times, and improved customer satisfaction. With the help of advanced automation technologies, you can eliminate repetitive tasks, optimize workflows, and free up your team's time and energy for higher value activities.

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