What is process automation software?
Process automation is the use of technology, called business process management (BPM) software, to automatically organize and execute tasks otherwise performed by manual human interactions. The use of process automation in business has grown significantly over the last decade.
The time and money BPM tools save businesses allow them to more efficiently utilize human capital for critical tasks that generally should not be automated. Not only is process automation more efficient, but it also makes it easier to spot inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other issues that might get ignored if a process is not well-defined. High-performance organizations utilize BPM tools for automation as a way to competitively differentiate themselves, stay relevant in their markets, and provide better customer and partner experiences.
Which processes can be automated?
Knowing when to use process automation can be just as important as knowing what it is. So before you start trying to automate everything you should identify the most likely processes for success. Here are a few ways of knowing if a process is a good candidate for automation.
Stuck in Spreadsheets
Any process that's currently being tracked through a spreadsheet or Google Sheet is usually a good place to start. Spreadsheets weren't created to handle automation. Even though there are some ways to automate a spreadsheet today, they were never built to be dynamic workflow tools. A business process management software, on the other hand, combines the flexibility of a spreadsheet with dynamic if-then logic that was designed to build automations. If you're currently managing much of your workflows with a spreadsheet, then it's time to upgrade your process.
Back and Forth
Much of today's work is tackled via email. Long chains of back and forth emails for clarification, updates, and more. Although email works well for a single non-time-sensitive message, it's an inefficient experience for getting work done, especially for high frequency requests, projects or events. Mapping out your processes that rely on email will help you see how powerful automation can be for your team, department, or company.
The larger the company the more layers of management. If you would love to get things done but know how long it will take to get everyone on-board, then it might be time to move over to a more efficient process automation tool. Business processes that include approvals from multiple stakeholders are a great use case for automation software because they eliminate the need for back and forth over email. By notifying all parties as soon as their consent is needed and providing progress visibility to the people involved, BPM tools tackle contracts and approvals with ease. So instead of waiting for your boss' signature, you're solving business problems in real-time.
While work varies at every organization, these are some typical use cases that benefit from a BPM tool like. Hivewire. In addition to these types of jobs, here are some specific processes that can be automated in each department:
- Benefits Changes
- New Hire Management
- Employee Onboarding
- Employee Offboarding
- Vacation Requests
- Quote Approvals
- Pricing Discounts
- Proposal Approvals
- Product Discounts
- Campaign Approvals
- Collateral Approvals
- Brand Management
- Expense Approvals
- Salary/Wage Changes
- Accounts Payable Automation
- Security Requests
- Security Protocol
- Project Requests
- Account Setup
- Change Requests
Not every process can or should be automated. Knowing the difference between a process that should be automated and one that's better left to humans will save you a lot of time and effort. But when you do identify and automate a manual process you stand to gain much more than just the time-savings alone.
What are the benefits of automating business processes?
Process automation will only work in the long-term if the benefits outweigh the costs. If you're on the fence about a business process management solution consider these additional benefits of process automation.
An automated business process means that it happens with little to no human interaction. But a faster process is just a small part of the benefit to automation. Setting up automated processes without additional help from engineering also allows that team to focus on high-level projects that they might be pulled away from if they had to help with your requests. The result of a no code or low-code automated process can have a huge impact. Now imagine if the entire company was familiar enough with no code development tools to build similar solutions without needing any engineering help.
When something doesn't go according to plan it's not always easy to identify why. Since modern enterprises consist of thousands of workers, it can be difficult to spot the problem, and more importantly, make sure it doesn't happen again. Process automation uses visual drag-and-drop workflow builders to map out each step. So you can rapidly identify bottlenecks and ensure they never happen again.
Mapping out your processes isn't just useful for identifying bottlenecks it also helps you better understand how the organization functions as a whole. If you can see each process behind the day-to-day operations of your business, then it's easier to organize resources in a meaningful way to get work done. In addition, BPM tools give you the visibility to know where there’s a broken process and where you’re needing additional automation.
Reduced Cycle Time
A more efficient organization starts with better processes. Automating existing processes helps you speed up workflows, train new employees, and get work done faster. In addition to automating existing processes, you'll now have the time and attention to focus on other tasks that aren't yet automated. As you reduce the time it takes to get work done you'll also save money on resources, which you can then reinvest in the company. If every automated task saves you time and money, which are both reinvested into the company, then you’ll quickly see the compound effect of more efficient business operations.
Compliance can quickly become a nightmare if you are relying on manual processes. By mapping everything out and automating much of your current workload, it's much easier to build compliant workflows that scale and can be copied for other uses. Greater visibility into how work is getting done can also help you identify where your current processes are not compliant.
Most organizations would benefit from process automation but only if the entire organization sees BPM tools as a long-term solution. It can be difficult to convince an entire organization of a new way of doing things unless the benefits far outweigh the costs. Hivewire is considered one of the best BPM tools today because it combines a simple to use, no technical skill needed approach with the features and functionality that teams need to solve everyday process problems.