Business process automation (BPA), which is rooted in the Industrial Revolution, radically changed the way we do business today. It allowed companies to save costs, but above all, to prepare a platform for smarter decision making. Now companies can take advantage of business automation process technology to take manual work and make it more efficient, effective and, perhaps most importantly, profitable over time. Let’s take a closer look at what business automation is as well as some approaches and examples.
What is Business Automation?
Business automation takes otherwise trivial manual labor, such as document storage or onboarding new employees, and transfers everything i.e.all documents into a single web-based system. There are many ways a company can transform processes, but ultimately only you and your organization can make the decision which processes should be automated.
There are many business process automation benefits. First, it allows you to improve the quality of your product or service. If you are looking for a safe path to customer success, happiness, and retention, the best way to get there is to provide quality products. By automating business processes, you ensure that each action is carried out in the same way, leading to a better and more predictable outcome. For example, let’s say you have an automated customer service tracking process, it means that your clients will always have the same level of service. Such a quality guarantee, in addition to time savings and efficiency, allows you to spend more time developing better products without increasing production costs.
How to automate your business processes
Now you heard all about the automatization process you are probably wondering “How can I implement this in my business?” Don’t worry we got you covered. Here are some steps which you can take today to get on your way.
- Start off with something simple: Is there a task that has absolutely zero human added value? With business process automation (BPA), not only you can take the burden of performing such tasks off the shoulders of your employees, but you can also avoid the unforced errors that will happen whenever there is a human factor involved.
- Create a culture embracing automation: You may be thinking that creating a culture is reserved big conglomerates, but in fact, it’s much easier for small and medium-sized business to accomplish. While the rise of automation is good for business, it has a lot of employees worried that it will take their jobs. Having said this, the top performing businesses automate anyway and a lot of times the employees who end up getting replaced by automation simply hop on to their next job.
Once you are experiencing such fears among your employees, it’s important to talk to them about all of the benefits of automation, both in the jobs they have now and how it will help grow their careers.
- Pick one, small business function: One thing that you definitely want as a result of automation is a good return of investment. If we continue the topic automation fear from the previous step, as soon you get some early victories in terms of automation under your belt they will start coming to you and asking you to automate other functions as well. This way, your employees will be blazing the trail towards automation, which is a sign that you are on the right track.
- Start the process: When you first begin automating, a good strategy to take is to chip away at those unnecessary tasks. Try to codify a certain process before you automate and what you will begin seeing is that this task begins to collapse and, ultimate, it will just go away because it supports a process that got automated. So don’t be afraid by a massive time-consuming task and instead try to break it down into smaller pieces and tackling it that way.
- Create an automation team: Before you even know it, you will realize that thanks to all of the automation processes you have a handful of experts on your hands. If you are seeing the kind of results that you were hoping as a result of automation, don’t be afraid to create a small team whole will be focused on further automation implementation.
Business Process Automation Examples
Now we know exactly what business automation is and how to implement it, let’s take a look at some real-life examples.
Wayfair may not be a household name, but their journey towards automation was a long, but interesting one. They sell furniture and home decor products and they have a business model that’s called “Drop Shipping”. Basically what this means is that they will set up a storefront to sell certain products and then deliver those same products from the supplier to the customer. This reduces overhead costs because the drop shipper does not have to in store a huge amount of products in a warehouse.
Currently, Wayfair is a rather large company, but, like many others, they started out small. When they first started their business, they began automating the order fulfillment process which freed up a lot of time for the owner who went on to set up more than 200 online storefronts that eventually were all merged into one.
Nowadays it is relatively easy to set up such a basic form of sales automation, especially with the availability of services such as Shopify and WooCommerce who allow you extend your storefronts and send out purchase orders automatically to each supplier. Even though these plugins are not free, by leveraging them you can make the entire process automation easier which will save money over the long term by freeing up your time so you can grow your business.