Business Process Automation is the act of using technology to execute repetitive but structural business tasks, to create efficiency and increase profits. BPA helps to improve efficiency, cut operating costs, and accelerate the delivery of services.
More importantly, BPA focuses on providing end-to-end business automation, not just on an isolated business process. A simple business process definition is this: a systematic act that interacts with information or data and imparts some business value to it.
A business process is simply any series of structured tasks or activities executed in sequence to create some value. Such business tasks are collectively a process because when executing them, a person or software robot has to follow a set of rules or conditions to generate value.
Business Process Automation is the process that involves executing an automation process from start to finish. Some of the steps taken in BPA include finding out processes that can be automated, learning about their data and information sources, and how all departments benefit or use those processes.
The business automation process also involves creating rules that software robots can interact with when running a business process. Overall, the BPA starts with a survey of automation opportunities and terminates when all the automated business processes are running optimally.
With the Business Process Automation definition out of our way, let us find out how BPA can increase your profits, and contribute to the growth of your business.
When identifying a business process you can automate, some of the factors to consider include:
The goal of BPA is not about cutting down on the paperwork that your employees and customers file. Instead, the main aim is to streamline business processes, cut costs, increase productivity, bring about transparency, and make the processes error-proof.
BPA business process automation can increase your employees’ output by helping them to focus on valuable tasks. Often, employees can be slow and clumsy when filing paperwork. That not only creates delays but sometimes the paperwork may have some errors.
With the automation of such tasks as data entry or filling of forms, you can free your workers to work in tasks that are not repetitive or prone to human errors. That allows them to offer more value to your business.
As humans, we are that good when executing repetitive work that requires attention to detail. That is why we set reminders, create checklists, and set alarms to remind us of time-sensitive events. With automation, issues such as forgetting to send an email or introducing a typing error while doing data entry cannot happen.
When employees perform work that is valuable to the company, they get a sense of job satisfaction. They will enjoy solving and tackling tasks that engage them mentally, rather than just physically. Therefore, they can increase their valuable output, earn more, and are less likely to quit their jobs for “greener pastures.”
One of the main concerns that businesses raise about business process automation solutions, is they are expensive to implement. However, that was only true about a decade ago, today automation is much easier to implement.
The business process automation tools are now readily available online and offline. Moreover, you can choose the extent of automation to pay for. You do not need to invest hundreds of thousands in the automation when a lower budget can work just as great.
The goal is to get faster results and streamline business operations. Business Process Automation services use software robots to help increase the stability and productivity of a company.
The use of those automation robots can be in the creation of databases, taking customer orders, to even introducing robotics in product manufacturing.
ABPD or process mining is a strategy used to bridge the gap that exists between management and the processes that get work done. It examines each step of the structured process, gathers data, and then creates a business model that will be applied during the actual automation.
Using ABPD can help to shorten the time it takes to implement automation, eliminating the need to rely on users to create process models. It can also identify any process patterns that may have remained unseen. Such process patterns may include bottlenecks in service delivery and product development.
The process is automated, and therefore does not need human input. However, we advise the use of field data and person-to-person interviews in certain situations in ABPD. That is useful where enterprise IT infrastructure does not document some elements of informal business processes.
It can be used to determine what impact automation will have on the entire business by helping the management to explore varying levels of automation. Some of the common sources of data used in ABPD include event logs, audits, and customer data inputs.
The use of ABPD can help in making sure small business process automation can result in a quick ROI. Therefore, we recommend it when implementing robotic business process automation. Overall, the value in automation is not just in the tools, but also in how you implement and use those tools.
Testing is part of the business process automation, and it is essential for the successful implementation of BPA. Moreover, BPA testing also forms the core part of quality assurance in automation.
Without thorough testing, there is no guarantee that the business process automation solutions will work as planned. Moreover, these tests are not a one-off event. They are part of a process referred to as the Automation Testing Lifecycle, and they are carried in the following phases:
This is the first stage of process automation, and it helps a business to determine which processes can be automated. It is at this stage that the test scripts are chosen. They are then used to determine how most applications can be automated.
Other important factors to consider at this stage include the cost of automation, expertise needed, and the ideal team size to implement the automation.
The test team inspects the UI of the applications to determine those that can be automated, using robotic business process automation tools, with few alterations.
The success of your automation process will depend on the automation tool chosen, as well as the support provided for that tool. In that regard, it is important to choose a tool whose team can provide you with technical support if you need it.
Other factors to consider when choosing a tool include your budget, technologies the tool will interact with, your team’s familiarity with the BPA test tool, and how easy it is to use it.
In that regard, if you need a tool to test browsers, then you need to know what browsers are supported, what kind of logs the tool outputs, and what Operating Systems the tool can run on.
Logs that include videos, screenshots, and metadata can be useful when analyzing the results of the tests, or troubleshooting errors.
This is a critical phase of the business process automation methodology in use. To make it a success, you need to look at the manual test cases provided by your testing tool and decide which ones to execute.
You also need to decide what frameworks the BPA business process automation tool will test, after learning all the pros and cons of your chosen testing tool.
You then need to seek approval from all stakeholders and share the automation plans with clients who can be affected by automation.
Moreover, you need to share the reasons for testing, risks involved, and the crucial interactions the tool will have with the application being tested.
The test environment should mirror the conditions in a production environment. That includes the test data, number of clients applications, variation of inputs that include erroneous inputs, and exposure to maximum and minimum traffic.
You should also vary the network speeds to learn what will happen in low and high-end networks. Most important, you should have all licenses ready, as well as valid system credentials.
Lastly, these tests should be done on an isolated server, so as not to impact on the business’s daily operations.
Any issues detected during testing should be fully addressed before implementing automation in your business.
Once all tests have been performed, it is time to analyze the results, write reports, and to create user manuals for the business automation process.
These reports will be shared with key decision-makers for discussion and recommendations. After receiving approval to roll out the BPA, the reports can then be used to create the final automation scripts.
BPA can help your company create custom automated systems, which can address your current and future needs. Moreover, it focuses on using your computing system to deliver a Business Process Automation solution.
While implementing BPA, the focus is not just one department – the IT department- as was common with traditional software automation. Instead, the focus of BPA is on the whole company and creates an automation solution that bridges any existing data, information, and communication gaps in different departments.
Most important, BPA ensures that your business takes full advantage of your computing system. Computers can execute repetitive and manual tasks much faster when provided with the right inputs. That allows your employees to focus on projects and tasks that require a higher level of skills and intellect.
Overall, the outcome of using BPA is happy customers, suppliers, workers, and investors. There is no reason why your company should not try BPA. BPA is the backbone of smart and profitable businesses.