Need to crunch 10 years of financial data? Spreadsheets have your back.
Gotta send 100 emails? Just copy the mailing list to your email and hit enter.
Want to automatically track your employees’ performance?
There’s an app for that. The best part of modern technology is that it does the work for you. But, how far does automation go? More than you think!
Business process automation is the future of Australia’s small and medium businesses (SMBs). And, you want to take full advantage of this trend.
Business process automation and what is it ?
Business process automation (BPA) is when you use technology, like software, to automatically complete a business activity, like calculating profit from financial data. In turn, a business activity is any activity that achieves business goals, like finding new customers.
BPA is a staple of modern businesses in both Australia and the rest of the world. You probably already use some level of BPA. Spreadsheets, email schedulers, and work calendars are just a few examples of how you’ve replaced human labour with computing technology. You do this because BPA has many advantages.
Firstly, automating processes reduces costs. You don’t need to pay an accountant by the hour when you could have a spreadsheet calculate profit, for instance, BPA also provides increased transparency and standardised results.
For example, standardising your financial calculations ensures you use the same equations to calculate your profit, revenue, and expenses. You wouldn’t have to worry about different accountants using different approaches.
Why should you use BPA?
BPA has many benefits. Including the above-mentioned decreased costs and increased standardisation, you also receive these 5 benefits:
1. Time Savings
Automating business processes lets them be completed faster since computers don’t need lunch or coffee breaks. You just have to assign a task to a program, and it’ll complete it without interruptions.
Take sending your company’s weekly newsletter, for example. You just feed the newsletter to an email scheduling app and provide it with a mailing list. The app will deliver your newsletter with the push of a button.
Imagine how much of a hassle it’d be to have someone physically email hundreds or thousands of recipients.
Your employees also save time by no longer performing repetitive tasks, like calculating profit. Instead, they can focus on activities requiring creative abilities and critical thinking skills, like marketing.
2. Increased profits
Labour isn’t cheap. So, why pay people for tasks that computers can do for you? Automating business processes saves your business money, which lets you retain more profits. Your business also creates more value by redirecting its workforce to value-adding tasks instead of grunt work.
In fact, recent research suggests that companies that regularly use BPA experience double revenue growth than those that don’t. They also experience higher profit margins and bigger deal sizes than companies that don’t rely on BPA.
What’s also interesting is that businesses of virtually all sizes, from garage-based startups to megacorporations, benefit from BPA. Don’t think that BPA wouldn’t increase your revenue just because you have a small business.
3. Higher productivity
Technology makes everyone’s lives easier. Unsurprisingly, companies that rely on the latest tech almost always have the best productivity. Completing repetitive and boring tasks drains your employees. So, having the computers do them uplifts their morale.
Another way that BPA improves your company’s productivity is by decreasing approval time. Managers don’t need to routinely check work completed by computer programs. A spreadsheet can’t make a calculation mistake, after all. So projects get completed faster.
The increased transparency via automation also encourages employees to invest in more innovative work. They know they’ll be rewarded for their efforts. Technology makes it easier than ever to identify top performers.
4. Greater efficiency
BPA lets you get more work done faster. A good BPA application is a non-diminishable labour source that quickly does all the boring stuff. That leaves your team to do the creative work. The result? Everything gets done better and faster.
The best part is that BPA lets you identify and clear bottlenecks in your operations. Let’s say you operate a residential cleaning service in Sydney. You have high demand and multiple cleaning teams. But your biggest problem is scheduling your teams.
An automatic scheduling app could fix this for you. It’d receive order instructions from your salespeople or website and monitor your team’s locations in real-time. And assign jobs to teams based on their proximity to the new order’s location. Everything gets done better that way.
5. Error minimization
People make mistakes. It’s only natural. Even the most skilled accountant could forget to include an item in your budget sheet. That’s inevitable. People lead busy lives. Even the best workers are only human, after all. They juggle a thousand different things in their mind at a time.
The fact is that humans weren’t meant to not make mistakes. So you can’t expect an accountant who never makes mistakes in their calculations. Computers, on the other hand, don’t make human mistakes. Computers don’t have emotions and don’t forget things.
A computer does what you tell it to how you tell it to. BPA gives you absolute consistency with your work. Something that people can’t. The result of BPA is fewer errors for your business and less stress for your accountant.
What business tasks should you automate
Now that you know why you should automate business processes, let’s talk about which ones you should.
Because not all processes can be automated, and not all should be.
You want to automate tasks that fall into these categories:
Time consuming tasks
Time-consuming tasks are usually repetitive and demand many hours a day. Take invoicing. These tasks should be the first to be automated because they don’t provide enough value to continue investing labour in.
Tasks with high complexity
Highly complex tasks are those that are difficult for people to perform regularly. Manually processing 100s of orders at an e-commerce store, for example. It would take multiple people a whole day to do that.
Automating these tasks ensures labour is invested in more value-producing activities.
Tasks that are done very frequently
Frequent tasks, like recording customer information, should also be automated. These tasks are important and easy to perform, but they consume a lot of time and labour. So, there’s no point in having employees perform them.
Redundant processes are the ones you don’t need people for at all. Think of using a modern spreadsheet with automatic calculations versus hiring an old fashioned bookkeeper to manually record data. There’s just no advantage of not using the spreadsheet.
Business process automation examples
These 3 examples will clarify how BPA works in practice.
Data extraction is the process of retrieving data from a database or application, like taking out the results of a company-wide survey. That data is invaluable, but it costs time and discomfort to sit an employee down and have them manually retrieve that data. They could also make mistakes.
Business process automation does data extraction for you in three steps:
- The BPA app will recognize and read information from relevant sources.
- Next, the BPA app will select and enter the relevant data into your system.
- Lastly, the BPA app will sort the data into the desired categories.
As a result, you’ll have faster and more efficient data extraction.
Supplier onboarding is a traditionally time-consuming task. You contact a supplier, exchange relevant information with them, ensure they meet your needs, and generate documents. All that before you receive your first delivery from them. P.S: it doesn’t get less cumbersome onwards.
You can let go of all that headache with a simple supplier onboarding application. The software will provide the intended supplier with a form requesting the relevant details. You could set the application to automatically decide whether to accept a supplier based on criteria
For instance, the supplier says they can only send you your custom T-shirts a month from now. But you need them next week. You’ll simply configure the app to automatically reject suppliers that don’t meet the deadline.
Creating invoices is easy when you only have a handful of customers. But, it’s a nightmare when your business expands. And, you definitely don’t want any mistakes in your invoice handling. BPA can be an absolute game changer for your finance department.
BPA gives you the following:
- BPA apps completely remove human error
- BPA apps automatically prepare and send invoices.
- BPA apps also reliably record financial data for you.
Long story short, your finance department will never miss an invoice or forget to record a payment again!
Business process automation is exciting! But, identifying which processes to apply BPA to, or how, isn’t easy. You need the right solution for each activity to elegantly and reliably automate it.
You could start your company’s business process automation journey by contacting PowerbITs for a free consultation.