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What are business process automation solutions?

From invoice processing automation to streamlining data entry, BPA allows for faster, more accurate outputs enterprise-wide.

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What is business process automation?

Business process automation (BPA) is the use of software applications to automate repeatable business activities and services. It improves the accuracy, efficiency, visibility and compliance of core business tasks on a day-to-day basis.

BPA technology eliminates the need for employees to manually perform time-consuming tasks that are commonly prone to error. Through user-defined rules, BPA can accelerate document routing, reviews and approvals, contract management and more.

The difference between BPA and RPA

Robotic process automation (RPA) uses bots or “scripts” to mimic repetitive tasks that an employee would do. RPA automates these predictable tasks (like copying and pasting data, data validation, etc.) based on pre-existing program rules. You can deploy RPA technology after outlining all the steps in a task and converting them into script codes for bots to execute on.

BPA automates the beginning to end of a process. Businesses that use BPA do so to continuously create, optimize and evaluate their workflows so they reach maximum efficiency.

RPA focuses on automating tasks that have little to no variance to them. BPA takes on a more complex, holistic approach and can streamline various elements in a core business workflow to make room for continuous innovation.

RPA can work with BPA technology to reach an ultimate goal. Hand in hand, RPA and BPA will maximize business performance through standardized processes, fewer errors and greater transparency.

> Learn more | How does business process management (BPM) differ from RPA?

How does BPA connect to business process management?

Business process management (BPM) refers to the outline that details business processes, workflows and other activities that must be improved. Organizations use BPM to model, examine and enhance entire business operations to achieve strategic objectives.

Essentially, BPM is the big picture for how businesses want to achieve digital transformation in their daily operations. BPM software capabilities include visualization tools, workflow automation and charts, user roles and other elements that contribute to seamless processes.

BPM is the overarching strategy that can include RPA and BPA. BPM describes the methodology that can be applied to business procedures, while BPA technology automates, optimizes and evaluates specific workflows to reach the desired outcome.

Learn more | What is Hyperautomation?

Why is business process automation important?

Growing organizations simply cannot afford to manually manage mission-critical procedures. BPA helps businesses to refocus their strengths on revenue generation and strategic growth instead of rectifying manual errors or maintaining cumbersome and outdated processes.

BPA software uses data-driven artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to complete business milestones efficiently. The right BPA solution can sync across separate tools and platforms, ensuring there are no delays or bottlenecks when it comes to solving a problem, giving an update or exchanging information. Users involved in a process would also have peace of mind knowing that every business activity is in legal compliance, thanks to in-depth audit trails.

Benefits of business process automation

Organizations do not need to overhaul entire operations to get started with BPA. Often, adaptation starts with identifying small-scale use cases and gradually deploying automation towards repetitive steps. Adopting BPA technology gives organizations the upper hand by:

Reducing human error and maximizing efficiency

Workflows in your business need to go through multiple reviews, edits and employees. Processes get even more confusing and error-prone if your employees have their own habits and ad-hoc systems to keep track of what needs to be done.

BPA drives systematic consistency across your procedures. This is done by following a sequential series of steps until the desired outcome is finally achieved. Automation technology minimizes the need to depend on manual intervention. Thus, greater operational standardization decreases the likelihood of errors and costly mistakes. All this directly improves the quality and timeliness of work, which means that your teams are operating at maximum efficiency on a daily basis.

Improving compliance

In an automated process, every step is documented with an audit trail. This enables you to keep track of who is doing what, see the status of relevant documents and even monitor the time and date of each activity. This degree of oversight guarantees the corporation has comprehensive records of all business workflows and demonstrates accuracy during auditing processes.

By implementing BPA, an organization can always maintain a legally defensible audit trail. Management ensures that employees are complying with all organizational rules and regulatory legislations. BPA is applicable to all industries. However, industries that are accountable for sensitive information (financial sectors, government organizations and healthcare systems, etc.) can use it to automate document retention and further improve data security.

Streamlining information collection

The Know Your Customer (KYC) regulation mandates that organizations involved in the financial sector (conduct background checks. This form of information gathering is monotonous and time-consuming. For instance, if a potential customer is categorized as “high risk,” the organization will need to complete more investigations or request further documents before doing business.

Executing this level of data analysis and paper-chasing will cause significant delays if employees are reliant on older strategies and technology. BPA and automation tools instantly route relevant documents and other forms of regulatory information to the right person. A BPA solution would also integrate with your core banking systems, eliminating the need for your employees to switch back and forth between platforms.

Boosting employee satisfaction and morale

Disparate tools and manual processes will confuse employees, likely impacting the quality of the work delivered.

BPA accelerates reviews and approvals. By implementing BPA in the workplace, you can increase productivity among your staff so they can focus on work that is both crucial to the business and genuinely requires human attention. This positively improves employee morale and results in a far better working environment and improved employee retention.

Examples of BPA

BPA solutions can be used in a variety of daily business operations, and have a wide range of functionality. Companies can start simplifying routine processes such as:

1. Employee onboarding

Although hiring employees may seem like a simple process, it involves multiple sensitive tasks. BPA and automation technology allow HR teams to reduce paperwork, guarantee that each employee onboarding step is carried out and loop in all relevant business users of new activities. HR teams can:

  • Fill up forms electronically
  • Collect digital signatures on documents
  • Automate compliance reminders

2. Purchase orders

Organizations can take up to weeks to traditionally approve purchase order requests. Authorized employees must first complete an order form, which the finance department must evaluate and approve. The form is then delivered to the proper vendor and inventory team after being approved.

BPA streamlines the entirety of a purchase order workflow. For starters, physical request forms can be digitized through data capture, routed to the relevant departments and the correct approver will be notified right away.

3. Incident reporting

Businesses must treat and resolve incident reports (employee cases, supply chain incidents, etc.) as quickly and effectively as possible.

This requires a centralized database for incident reporting. Here, all relevant professionals can log incidents, monitor their status and exchange information with other teams in real time. With BPA, everyone included in an incident can be notified through alerts – allowing for effective, timely communication that will allow an incident to be solved.

How BPA software can accelerate digital transformation

Business automation software speeds up processes in your organization by optimizing entire workflows and increasing efficiency. A low-code development platform extends this capability to citizen developers, or employees with basic coding knowledge to build applications or release improvements quickly and easily.

BPA solutions allow your business users to work smarter by:

  • Automating repetitive tasks
  • Managing rudimentary processing
  • Handling process logistics

This drives value organization-wide, ultimately freeing up users to focus on important tasks instead of process rules.