If you want to understand why you should utilise Business Process Automation, it is useful to understand the fundamentals. In this article, we will explore the components of a Business Process and how it all fits together in a holistic management approach.
What is a Business Process?
Commonly considered as a collection of related tasks and activities, business processes relate to a product, a service or contribute to the overall management of the company. Regardless of your industry, a clearly defined Business process will have three main components:
- Inputs – Requests, Triggers, Business Requirements
- Structured and sequenced Tasks, Business Activities or Sub-Business Processes
- Output – a product, service or business goal
What is Business Process Management?
Business process management (BPM) is an approach for making a company’s business processes efficient, more robust and capable of adapting to ever-changing environments. BPM may include any combination of modelling, execution, control, measurement and optimisation of business activities to support company goals, staff, suppliers and partners.
Successfully utilising BPM involves:
- Designing processes around outcomes, not tasks (maintain focus on the end goal)
- Establish processes and assigning ownership
- Standardising processes across the business
- Enabling continual improvement and change
- Improving existing processes where possible (instead of introducing completely new ones)
This methodology applies to most industries, including manufacturing, Health, IT and business services; each with unique business rules governing how tasks are performed or dictating expected outcomes. The methods of automating processes differs greatly between industries and may include the use of industrial robots for automating manufacturing tasks or using software (Enterprise Resource Planning ERP, Customer Relationship Management CRM, etc.) for automating information management.
The workflow of structured tasks & business activities that produce an output will either consist of manual tasks, requiring a person to do the work, or tasks which can be automated and completed by a computer or robot. Many tasks in daily business activities that involve data processing and working with electronic information can be easily automated. An example would be to include automatic email notifications when digital documents have been uploaded to an EDRMS and require review by management.
The Benefits of Process Automation
Business process automation of tasks provides a number of benefits to companies in the form of improved quality, reduced costs and standardising of company operations.
Two of the immediate benefits you will notice from automating business workflow are:
1. Improved Communication – clear chains of communication
Automating workflow communication is a simple place to start for tasks that do not require manual interaction. For example, these may include automatic notifications once a supplier has submitted an invoice into your system, or a notification to accounts payable that the invoice has been approved by management.
Simple automated notifications using set templates standardise communication and avoid the time required by employees to send manual communications. Task reminders and automatic escalations are another way to make sure work tasks are being completed. While you can’t guarantee an employee will do the work, you can be safe knowing an automated system will continue to remind them until it’s done.
2. Quality and Efficiency – reduce manual errors
Automating tasks has been a common way to achieve higher quality through the avoidance of human error. A higher quality operation will increase efficiency as less defects or errors need to be repaired, providing additional time & cost benefits.
Manufacturing industries have implemented automated systems through use of robotics for many years to achieve increased quality. Automated quality systems are a key factor that allows manufacturers to remain cost effective and competitive in the modern economy. You can also apply this methodology to modern day-to-day business activities to achieve similar improvements in quality management, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
The Importance of Monitoring & Optimising
The subject of Business Process Automation & Optimisation and Business Process Management can become a long and complex task. While it is ideal to get your processes structured correctly first time around, this will often not be the case, and continual monitoring of workflow will assist in improved performance.
It is important to continually monitor business process systems to identify bottlenecks, redundant tasks or any other issues with implemented business processes.
Once issues have been identified, you can implement strategies to improve workflow performance like increasing resources to avoid bottlenecks and removing redundant tasks from your automated system.
Where to begin?
To improve quality, be cost effective and remain competitive, business needs to look towards automation. With recent advances in Cloud-Computing and web-based business tools, automating your business has never been more accessible.
To gain these benefits for your company you should start by planning and analysing your current company operations.
1. Identify Products, Services or management requirements that you provide or need.
- Do these items have several inputs and tasks? What are they?
2. Analyse the workflow, what can be automated or completed electronically?
- Are multiple communication paths required?
- What type of communication is required?
- What information is being shared between people and tasks?
- Is information managed by Paper, spreadsheet or database?
- Are any tasks repetitive?
3. Automate Processes
- Identify a suitable Business Process Management BPM package and automate tasks.
4. Monitor Performance
- Set KPI’s and Performance Targets for your processes
- Monitor tasks and identify issues
- Remove, add, mitigate or change tasks to increase performance
Need more information?
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