Automating Business Processes: Costs Vs. Benefits

Automating Business Processes - Costs Vs. Benefits
Mary Ann KeelingGuest Post by
Mary Ann Keeling
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You will have heard the slogan used by business owners everywhere before: ‘automate or die’. It’s a mantra that stands true in every industry, whether you’re a start-up on a shoestring budget or a large multinational.

In order to reduce costs and remain competitive, it is vital to implement business process automation solutions. Not only does it bring down costs, improve productivity, increase quality and eliminate inefficiencies, but it also benefits the customer.

So, are there any drawbacks? If not used effectively, it can produce problems for an organisation. It requires a large initial investment and can lead to less versatility and a loss of talent. It can also dehumanise the process and produce errors if not implemented correctly. For the process to provide the most benefit to the organisation, it should be properly tested and bring out the best in your workers.

What Does It Do Exactly?

Implementing a business process automation (BPA) solution can help to speed up processes and reduce workloads. The end goal is to help reduce operational costs for a business, by either reducing labour costs or bringing down client response times. BPA can serve to eradicate routines tasks, eliminate the decision making process and is sometimes capable of running without the need for human intervention.

It generally serves to facilitate tasks such as producing documents, managing and storing documents, sending out communications and scheduling and managing meetings. These systems will help to enforce standards and improve consistency throughout the organisation.

How To Implement It 

There are three main implementation techniques that can be used to automate business processes.

  • Extend IT system: This uses an existing IT system and simply extends it. Attaching BPA solutions to an already automated system can be a cost-effective solution for a business. However, it can be costly and timely to find the right talent to develop the processes and train employees to use them.
  • Purchase process-specific BPA software: Purchasing ready-made tools helps to avoid the issue of finding the right talent to develop the process in-house. Of course, you may not always be able to find the right system for your needs. What’s worse, you may purchase expensive tools with functionalities that you don’t actually require.
  • Purchase adaptive BPA solutions: These are highly customisable solutions that combine the best of the above techniques. They allow businesses to use existing infrastructure and build upon it in a way that is specific to their industry and business needs.

The right technique will depend on your business, existing systems and talent, as well as the software available in your industry. You will want to choose the technique that is most effective for your organisation and least costly.

The Benefits of Process Automation

Automating business processes provides several key benefits to any organisation. Some of these it provides include (but are not limited to):

  • Enforces standards, which improves quality and consistency
  • Decreases workloads
  • Streamlines work
  • Boosts productivity gains
  • Makes tracking work cycles more efficient
  • Reduces turnaround times
  • Allows you to document results more successfully
  • Minimize costs arising from human errors and inefficiencies
  • Enhances the customer experience

It can help different areas of the business to align their objectives around a common business goal. Since it allows those in the organisation to communicate better, it can help to reduce miscommunication and gain efficiencies.

The Potential Challenges

If not done properly, BPA can have its drawbacks. While it is important to find ways to reduce costs within a business, you do not want to do this by sacrificing quality.

Rather than worsening the quality of the customer experience, the process should serve to enhance it. You don’t want customers to feel as if you don’t care about them if they receive automatic and non-relevant replies.

The key is in choosing the right processes to automate and undergoing rigorous testing to ensure proper outcomes. An organisation should only choose to automate processes that are mature enough to be automated. There is no point in automating a process that is inefficient as this makes it more likely that errors and problems will arise. That is why it is so important to choose the right automation technique for your business needs.

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