An Introduction to Business Process Automation: Why It’s Worth the Investment

The robots are coming, and there may never be a better time to be in business.

A recent McKinsey study found that approximately 45% of the activities that workers are currently paid to perform can be automated with existing technology. That figure represents approximately US$1.1 trillion of wages in India and US$2 trillion in the United States, an incredible opportunity for businesses to lower costs, free employee time for more valuable activities, and increase profits.

In this context, the question most businesses have today is how exactly they can capitalize on the various technologies in the market. And the answer is Business Process Automation (BPA).

What is Business Process Automation?

Put simply, Business Process Automation is the technology-enabled automation of activities or services that accomplish a specific function or workflow. Many businesses likely have some version of BPA currently in use within their organization. Some of the most commonly automated functions across industries currently include:

  • Accounting and Invoicing
  • Receiving and Delivery Operations
  • Sales and Marketing Operations
  • Quality Assurance and Corrective Action Reporting
  • Materials and Service Ordering
  • Product Lifecycle Management
  • Human Resources
  • And More!

How Can Business Process Automation Help Your Business?

There are a number of areas where BPA can help increase efficiency. Below are a few examples:

  • Reducing or eliminating repetitive tasks that do not add value to the customer
  • Speeding up the execution of tasks that are always triggered based on a timeframe, customer activity, or another frequently occurring event
  • Increasing efficiency by offering greater self-service options
  • Reducing manual involvement in a back office and administrative functions

Ultimately, wherever you need to free up resources by reducing the time spent on a commonly executed task is a good candidate for BPA.

What Industries Benefit the Most from Business Process Automation?

One of the advantages of BPA is its applicability to virtually any industry. The functions below are largely common across industries and are prime candidates for Business process automation.

  • Sales and marketing (via automated lead nurture activities)
  • Management (via reporting and analytics)
  • Operations (improving efficiencies in product delivery)
  • Supply chain activities (automating inventory management, etc.)
  • Human resources (providing access and training to new employees, filtering resumes, etc.)
  • Information technology (managing and integrating existing systems)

What are the Benefits of Business Process Automation?

McKinsey finds that companies who have invested in BPA typically see an ROI of between 3 and 10x their investment. These returns commonly come from the following areas:

  • Reduced Costs: Anywhere automation can reduce manual labor on a task represents a significant saving to the business. BPA also helps significantly reduce inefficiencies and rework as well.
  • Improved Customer Service: Customers benefit from a host of efficiencies that increase the speed of service and satisfaction. Improvements in the areas of ticket assignment, response times, self-service, and follow-up all help contribute to a lift in overall service quality.
  • Motivated Employees: Numerous studies have shown correlations between employee engagement and company performance. Employees freed from the tedium of repetitive tasks that do not add significant value are more likely to devote their best efforts to more impactful areas of the business.
  • Increased Capacity to Deliver More Services: When time is freed up from repetitive tasks, this labor can be shifted into more sales and marketing activities, which allows a business to grow at an increased rate for the same labor cost.

We hope this overview of Business process automation shows you some of the benefits of this approach. With technology’s rapid evolution, it can be difficult to understand exactly where to start. If you’d like to talk to a business process automation expert, please contact IOTAP today.