Many different processes occur within a business. Invoicing clients, checking of emails, handling taxes and payroll, answering customer inquiries, and a whole lot more — these are all examples of what takes place in a business. Without these processes, a company will not be able to run smoothly and will eventually fail.
Admittedly, these tasks take time, energy, and plenty of patience to get accomplished. And as a business grows, what were once simple processes will become complicated and on a bigger scale. Sure, adding new employees or departments will help but doing so can make communication challenging. Not to mention that it will cost more.
For this reason, Business Process Automation (BPA) has been the lifesaver of many companies, and rightly so. If you are new to this concept, here’s a few things that you need to know about it.
What Is Business Process Automation?
The most straightforward definition of Business Process Automation is that it is the use of technology to automate workflow processes, cut costs and boost the productivity of businesses. By using a BPA software, you are taking tedious and manual work off of your hands.
Business process automation has its key benefits. For starters, the automation of processes means that you and your employees will no longer have to deal with them. Instead, they’ll be able to focus on more valuable work like high-level strategy planning and innovation.
Employee motivation will also be improved in the sense that they wouldn’t have to do menial and repetitive tasks like invoicing clients, for instance. Finally, business process automation minimises human error to a higher degree. Regardless of how keen to details employees are, they are still humans and will make mistakes along the way.
Creating an automated business
Needless to say, an automated business has its advantages over one that is not. And the sooner that you learn how to automate your business, the better you will be in dealing with obstacles in the future. So how do you do that? Here are the steps.
Outlining the tasks
The first step to being an automated business is knowing the tasks that you regularly do, say on a daily or weekly basis. Listing them down might sound simple, and it actually is. However, many businesses make the mistake of choosing the wrong tasks to automate costing money and wasting precious time.
Some of these tasks may include:
- Proofreading and/or scanning of documents
- Filling out of online forms
- Responding to emails
- Updating your contact book
- Backing up your website
- Posting to social media
- Invoicing clients
- Publishing blog posts
- And everything else that you can think of
Review the list of tasks
Go through your list and carefully check if there are tasks that can either be delegated or eliminated altogether. Chances are, you will find a task or two that will not really affect your business even if you don’t do them at all. More importantly, these unnecessary tasks are likely to be causing you time and money.
Now, for the fun part. Out of the list you created, choose which ones you think you can probably automate. There are many automation tools available that you can be as creative and ambitious as you want. Besides, you are not exactly figuring out how to automate your business yet.
Tasks that require creative thinking and a lot of human input should not be automated. These tasks can include content creation, problem-solving, social media advertising, and the likes.
Choosing your automation tools
After carefully selecting the tasks to automate, it’s now time to choose the tools that you’ll be needing to make all these possible. Do note, that there are many automation tools so it can be a bit tricky to know which ones are right for the needs of your business.
There are five main types of automation tools, namely:
- Desktop automation such as Excel macros
- Document digitisation which are tools that create datasets from forms and documents by incorporating cognitive abilities
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that is in the form of an application or a bot that can interact with the UI (user interface) in the same way a human would.
- Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) which combines robotic process automation with machine learning. Compared to RPA, IPA doesn’t only replicate human processes but also learns and improves itself over time.
- Business Process Management (BPM) is a software that can allow coordination between the different tools that a business uses.
With all of these options, it pays to do your due diligence in researching for the appropriate automation tool for your business. The internet is your best friend so take your time doing your research. The next step is basically to sign up for an automation system.
Set targets and review your automation system
Of course, the reason why you are automating your business is to make it more profitable. Otherwise, there’s no point in you having an automated business. That is why it’s important that you set specific targets to gauge your success and whether or not your automation system is effective.
Since you are just starting out, your goal can be as simple as being able to match your employees’ performance through automation. So if you have ten employees who are spending an hour each day to answer emails, your goal for using an email autoresponder is to be able to remove these tasks from their buckets.
If things are going according to plan and your employees no longer have to check and answer their emails, that’s good. However, you shouldn’t be content with just that. The extra one hour that you got from automating email responses should be used somewhere else. It could be any other task, but at the very least, it should be something that will bring more value to your business.
Take it one step at a time
As mentioned earlier, you will be using more than one automation system for your business. That should remain true unless you find a single system that is able to automate multiple tasks all at once. But that’s probably unlikely, at least, for the time being.
Besides, you don’t want to get yourself overwhelmed by using multiple automation systems from the get-go. Take it slow and use one system at a time. Before you even consider automating another task, see to it that everyone in the company is already past the learning curve for your existing system.
You’re On The Way To An Automated Business
Always remember that the primary goal of business process automation is to free up time that should be spent on work that is more valuable. Automation, when used correctly, will significantly minimise or even remove the risk of human error. This, in turn, will lead to better products and services, higher productivity, and higher profits.