Business process automation levels the playing field for small businesses. For larger organizations, it makes all of the tiny fragments of information that take far too long to organize more manageable. As technology continues to evolve, automation offers a way to stay on top of all of the moving parts that make up your workflow.
The organization is key to achieving success and really understanding your overall growth. While automation is certainly about allowing machines to handle the mundane tasks, it also provides oversight into exactly how your product is working.
When your business model is more, “fly by the seat of your pants” you’re leaving a whole lot to chance. If you look at business process management software, like ECM Software, there are a number of capabilities available to help you not only automate your processes, but eliminate waste, improve efficiency, and analyze information about every nuance of your business model.
Areas Where Business Process Automation Can Improve Efficiency
Business process automation is ongoing. As new features evolve, you’ll be able to automate more areas of your business. This frees up your employees to concentrate on the more important decisions in running your business while minimizing human errors that often occur in mundane tasks. Almost any area of your business can benefit from automation.
Revenue Cycle Management
For many companies, this is the area where automation can benefit you the most. Your revenue cycle management is more than just billing and receiving payment. When handled effectively, you can connect all of the pieces in the customer’s journey.
The client’s information can be in one location so that each member of your team – from sales to customer service to billing – can see exactly where that customer is in the process and recognize their needs. Automating processes here can mean faster payment and more opportunities to up-sell your customer, resulting in higher profits.
It also frees up your employee time so that when they do have contact with your customers, the focus is more on customer satisfaction and less on the risk of manual data entry errors that can happen with older systems. Reminders and sales can all integrate to create a personalized approach to customer contact while saving manual hours.
Human Resource Information
Your HR department has a wealth of information to keep track of and many of these moving parts overlap with other departments. With automated tools, your HR department can organize each employee’s lifecycle, providing the company as a whole with many benefits.
With better security, each employee can have their own clearance for the information that impacts their daily work, and your HR team will have better oversight into benefits and other pertinent expenditures associated with your staff.
Employee training is a large investment for many companies. Automating this process saves time, can offer more robust reporting to better oversee on-boarding procedures and gives new hires the tools they need to succeed in their position.
Your Sales and Marketing Workforce
The sales team often needs to work in conjunction with marketing, though the departments may be completely separate. Using a robust Enterprise Content Management System means that each of these departments will have access to the current information on each customer file.
Automation in their area improves communication between internal departments that might not always see each other physically and eliminates the errors caused by too many members of your staff having contact with a client without updated information.
There’s nothing worse for a customer than to have a vendor contact you repeatedly. These departments can also often benefit from information held by accounting and customer service.
Your customer service team can best address your clients’ needs if they have a set protocol to follow that doesn’t waver. Implementing an automated system means that each contact point will have access to the same information and follow the same protocol. This eliminates situations where gathered information is incomplete and avoids incorrect data entry and mistakes.
Analytics is an important part of the process. By automating your reporting, you can stay up to date on new changes or long-term trends in any area of your business. You can even use reporting options to gauge how effective your business process automation software is in regards to returns on your investment.
Benefits to Business Process Automation
There are a number of benefits to implementing new automation in your business and very few drawbacks. With any implementation, there will be an adjustment period. This might mean a decline in productivity until employees master the new system. With excellent training and support, the learning curve can be handled effectively. Another consideration is in the initial investment and overall cost of the process.
While there may be an initial cost, your company will see an uptick in productivity and efficiency when new automation is implemented effectively. You’ll also want to keep up to date with technological advances in order to better compete in the marketplace – your competition will have an advantage when they’ve automated while you’re using outdated technology.
Here are a few of the benefits of implementing business process automation:
With automation, the task is performed identically each time. That means that there won’t be any variables in the quality of products or services. You can maintain and control the level of quality in a comprehensive way so that customers will always get the same level of service, regardless of who handles their account.
Better Communication Across Platforms
When you automate with programs such as Document Capture Software, every contact point is covered. Whether employees get communication through email, text, web portals, paper, or fax, each piece of documentation can be captured in the system.
This process allows you to easily access information through search, ensuring the right information gets to the right people, and that it does not go missing or end up forgotten about.
When products are handled through an automated system, they’re easier to track and report. For instance, if you have multiple warehouses with products, and the purchase orders and handling were all managed through your automated system, you could easily see where each product was located. This would allow you to streamline logistics and pinpoint your exact inventory at any given time.
Automation is conducted through a series of workflows. This means that you can set your workflows in the most advantageous way for your productivity. If you review your efficiency and find that steps are missing, or mistakes are being made in a certain department, you can adjust the workflow so that those errors are corrected universally. Having processes arranged in a workflow makes it easier to verify information and make sure nothing is missing.
Automation makes regulatory compliance far easier to manage. Your industry likely has specific requirements that you need to meet in order to function, whether that consists of information you need to provide to a regulatory body or state, or Federal mandates associated with your business. Any of your regulatory needs can be mapped into your workflow so that all of the information is present and precise.
With an automated system, you can institute security clearance for each employee to better manage which files are accessed. You can also set up the software so that there’s a clear way to track who accessed files and who made changes to documentation.
Implementing BPA Where You Need It Most
The key to implementing great business process automation practices is in knowing your own business. First, you need to assess your processes from start to finish. You need to see, with as little bias as possible, how successful your current protocol is and where you can improve.
This process can pose some problems because it’s difficult to pinpoint what you’re doing wrong from the inside. Some companies will hire outside consultants who can look at their entire process and give an honest assessment. An alternative is in using your reporting functions to see where you may be lacking in the process. For instance, if you’re seeing that there’s a dramatic wait time for payments, you might consider changing processes in your revenue cycle management to improve this function.
A thorough assessment gives you a list of areas where your business processes are weak. Don’t overlook the areas of strength, though. You don’t want to implement new automation that impinges on areas where your productivity and efficiency is currently successful.
Once you have a clear picture of the way your business currently works, you can create a list of areas where you need to improve. This information allows you to make a concise list of needs when you research various software systems and vendors to help you automate processes.
A lot of businesses buy software but never use all of the tools and functions. While it’s not necessary to use every feature, it’s important to understand what goals you have before you begin. This way, you can better judge how successful your implementation is going and where to make adjustments.
As Marketing Communications Manager, Lauren Ford is the dynamic voice behind Square 9 Softworks. Delivering highly effective messaging across reseller channels, end-user communities, and outside agencies, Ford develops, drives and executes communication plans that effectively support Square 9’s overall marketing goals and objectives.