Nowadays business organizations are focusing more on process automation to improve their functional efficiency. COVID 19 pandemic has accelerated the automation trend more. But many organizations are even magnifying the operational inefficiency by taking inappropriate strategies for process automation. In this blog, we will share an overview of the most important steps for business process automation.
What is Business Process Automation (BPA)?
Business Process Automation is the transformation of the business from a manual process to a digital platform. It is a practice of streamlining the operation of a business organization using technology and software applications. A business process automation usually indicates the implementation of digital technology in every department of the organization, not just IT. The main objective of automation is to reduce the dependency on labor resources and increase the use of software applications.
8 steps for Business Process Automation
The most important aspect of business process automation is to follow the proper implementation strategy. Most of the time automation fails due to the wrong implementation approach. Here are the 8 most important steps for a business process automation –
1. Standardize the existing practice
American Business Magnate Bill Gates said, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” The successful implementation of any technology, system, or software in an organization requires a standard operation process. Otherwise, automate process will not provide the expected result. It will cause the operational inefficiency of the organization instead. Therefore, an organization, aiming for automation, needs to develop a standard operating procedure of their existing practice to bring out the best results of process automation.
2. Identify the automation goal
Before starting the software implementation, an organization needs to clearly define and write down the expectations from the automation. It will help the organization to choose the proper technology. For example, before the implementation of accounting software, it is necessary to define what types of accounting reports are expected to be generated from the system e.g. the Profit & Loss account, Receipt & Payment, Balance Sheet, Owner’s Equity Statement, Monthly/Quarterly, Annual Target & Achievement Analysis, Assets & Liabilities Statement, etc. Once the goal has clearly been defined, it will be easy to choose the software that can fulfil these targets.
3. Select the areas of automation
Although the aim of automation is to develop or integrate technology in such a manner that impacts the entire company still some operations should run manually. Because every organization needs to carry on a few of the activities manually for better efficiency. Aiming to automate these functions may make the automate process more complex and inefficient. Also, the effort and investment made for this purpose will go to no purpose. So, it is better to let these functions be manual. A well-planned automation strategy identifies that area and decides to keep running these functions manually.
4. User Requirements
The most important part of a business process automation is drafting the “User Requirements”. User Requirements specify the needs of the business and it comes from the end-users. How a platform or software application will work mostly depends on the user requirements. Some organizations make mistakes by starting to implement/develop a system/software without proper user requirements. It mostly happens when the company purchases an already developed application from any third party. Purchasing/developing software without proper user requirements sometimes upshot a great disaster resulting in most of the requirements being unmatched.
5. Select the appropriate platform
Choosing an appropriate platform makes the software implementation process easier and effective. There are two popular options for software implementation a) In-house development b) Outsourcing
a) In-house Development: Companies having adequate IT professionals can go for in-house development. In that case, it can be an Integrated Solution – where the entire system is built on a single platform or a Best of Breed (BoB) – where the company can choose different modules from different vendors according to their requirements.
b) Outsourcing: Companies that don’t have sufficient IT professionals can outsource the software application from external vendors. This process reduces the development time and effort but causes relatively large investment based on the requirements and functionality.
To read a similar topic like this click on, “The Digital transformation of HR”
Some companies make a great mistake by starting software implementation to the whole operation from the beginning. It increases the risks. Because, with this approach, if the software implementation fails, the whole operation will collapse. So, the best approach is to give a trial of each module at a small scale and see the impacts. Some companies consider this process time-consuming and they ignore these steps. Thus they increase the automation risk by transforming the entire business operation to a new platform.
7. Train the users
The users play the most vital role in business process automation. The success or failure of a system demands on the users. If users can successfully use the application the automation works. So, while developing or outsourcing any software or application the users should be the major issue of consideration. After the development and piloting company should take initiative for users training. User training is easy for small organizations. But for a large company, having a huge number of employees, the training process is relatively tough. In that case, the users can be trained through video tutorials to save time and effort.
8. Findings and improvement
Finding and improvement is a continuous process of software implementation. While using any application its functionality may be changed based on the development of the organizational process. The platform should be developed in such a way that it has an option of easy modification. This method of software development is known as the agile method of software development.
The two most important aspects of Business Process Automation are the system or application development and the implementation strategy. But some organizations focus only on the technology and ignore the proper implementation strategy. Here are the eight important steps an organization should follow for the successful implementation of automation in any business process –
- Standardize the existing practice
- Identify the automation goal
- Select the areas of automation
- User Requirements
- Select the appropriate platform
- Train the users
- Findings and improvement