business process automation

Business Process Automation: A Definitive Overview

Bryan Golkhajeh
Bryan Golkhajeh

Steps and Methodology for Automating Your Business

Business Process Automation: Introduction

Whether you’re new to the idea or have been doing it for years, business process automation has the power to transform your company or team.

BPA (Business Process Automation), also known as business automation or digital transformation, simply means using technology to automate complex business tasks. It utilizes custom software integrations and decision modeling to mimic something you would normally pay a worker to do.

The most simplest form of process automation usually involves using tools like Zapier to integrate two SaaS products together to get them “talking” to each other. For example, every time a Stripe payment goes through, notify the team in Slack of the purchase. That is a simple two-step automation that would take an expert about 30 minutes to complete.

When thinking of which processes to automate, you should have the following goals in mind:

  • Streamline for simplicity
  • Achieve digital transformation
  • Increase quality of service
  • Improve service delivery
  • Contain costs

How Does Business Automation Improve Business Processes?

The most simplest way to answer this question is that by automating your business process, you’ve eliminated human error. Humans make mistakes, it’s that simple. Computers usually do what you tell them to do. Computers do not get tired or call in sick. They also work for cheap and never ask for a raise or overtime pay! Automated systems can work 24/7 with a high accuracy without needing breaks in between.

With that being said, almost any complex business process can be solved using process automation software. Let’s say you sell slap bracelets from the 90’s on your website. You have a landing page with a shopping cart, an order form, and a gateway processor to process payment transactions. What happens next when a customer makes a purchase? You have to look at the order, print out a shipping label, and mail it or drive down to the UPS store to ship it.

Benefits of Automating Business Tasks

It’s the year 2020 people! Wake up! That whole process is nonsense for a human to be involved with. Workload could automate that entire process so all you have to do is wake up and check your bank account to see how much it grew!

Automating a business process like that will give you the free-time you need to do things that computers CAN’T. These are things like negotiating new rates with your suppliers, finding cheaper software, content marketing to attract more people to your site, setting up Facebook ads, etc. This is especially true if you are a small business owner and don’t have tons of employees to help out.

If you’re stuck at your desk all day printing out shipping labels and going to UPS, you won’t have time to do all that other stuff that will actually help your top and bottom line. This is why automating business processes is super important in the modern era.

Developing a Business Process Automation

Think about the amount of time you spend on tasks that aren’t at the core focus of your business. Now think about how great it would be to automate that task so you can put all your energy back to running the core business. Sounds great right?

If you need help deciding which processes are best to automate, contact us for a free consultation from an automation expert. We know automation inside and out. Let us help you remove tasks from your workflow so you can focus on your business goals. If you are looking for inspiration on what processes other people are automating, look no further. This handy guide from OnDeck will provide 20 great examples of business processes you could easily automate.

Once you’ve decided on which process to automate, it’s time to put the plan into motion. A great place to start is Zapier. For most businesses, Zapier is the perfect tool get you well on your way. We are certified Zapier experts so if you are lost while using the tool, we can manage it for you. All you need to do is tell us what you need done.

Sometimes, however, Zapier falls short. In those cases where you need a deeper integration, we can build custom automations to execute for your business. This is great because every business is different. There is no “one size fits all” solution since your business is likely unique from your competitors. We’ve created custom integrations for all kinds of businesses including those in the Fortune 50!

Monitoring Your Automations

Once you’ve designed and developed your automated process (hopefully with our guidance!), you should be monitoring the output of the automation. This is for several reasons:

  • Quality Assurance – making sure the desired output is achieved
  • Measuring Success – you’ll want to track how many hours you saved by automating
  • Human Intervention – having a backup plan in the rare cases that automation fails to deliver

Our favorite tool to use for monitoring business process automation is Slack. It’s free and simple, plus it allows for 3rd party apps to connect to it. Slack can become your centralized messaging hub where you’ll get all kinds of important data sent to you about your running automated processes.

Optimizing Your Processes Even Further

At some point you’ll get comfortable with how everything is working. That’s a great time to reflect on improvement. Ask yourself, how can I improve the efficiency of this workflow? What software is essential to complete this? Is there a cheaper/free way to automate this using an Airtable or Google Sheet?

In many cases, you could be paying for software that you don’t actually need to achieve the same results. That’s another area Workload can step in. Many businesses overspend on SaaS where they don’t utilize the full feature set they are paying for in the first place. Almost anything can be done using a simple database like a spreadsheet or Airtable, along with email and invoicing templates using the Google G-Suite.

business process automation management outline
BPM process outline courtesy of Kissflow.com

Conclusion

Whether you are just beginning, or are experienced with using BPA tools like Zapier, you should always be bucketing your tasks into two categories:

  • Is this a repetitive task that I will always have to do no matter what?
  • Is this something a human can and should be doing?

If you let those two questions guide your decision making process, you’ll be one step ahead of everyone else.

When you are understaffed or have limited resources, you have to do things your competitors aren’t thinking of. Business process automation is a low hanging fruit that gets overlooked due to its complex perception. Hiring an automation expert like us is a great move to get you out of the weeds of routine tasks.

Drop us your email below for a free process review!

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