In most organisations in Africa, the employees spend (and waste) a lot of time on repetitive tasks, such as: filling in forms, routing documents to approvers, entering data into spreadsheets, searching for files, etc; Consequently, a process that should only take a few days to complete ends up taking weeks or longer. If your business is still doing things manually, it’s time to transform and automate your processes!
Automating repetitive tasks allows employees to focus on higher-value work. Business process automation (BPA) is the use of automation software known as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology to automate manual & repeatable day-to-day tasks (such as data entry, data extraction, copying and pasting, etc.) and administrative tasks such as billing, accounting, Order Processing & Tracking, CRM, etc. BPA allows you to take manual tasks and automate them using software. It allows you to streamline operations and increase efficiency.
BPA is most ideal for organisation such as banks, insurance, healthcare, retail, travel, energy, telecom and government institutions. If your business is still doing things manually, it’s time to modernize your processes and increase efficiency, in order to compete in the Digital Economy. If your organisation is still heavily reliant on paper-based documentation and manual data entry, you can bet some of your competitors have already automated these processes and are offering their customers better value through faster processing times and better communication.
Digital Transformation vs Business Process Automation
Whereas Digital transformation is about how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business models and business performance. However, Automation involves applying technology to streamline operations and make processes more efficient. In short, automation is a means to an end, and the desired end is digital transformation
Digital transformation is not just an isolated IT project
Digital transformation is not an isolated IT project. Instead, it’s the combination of numerous projects that transform every aspect of your organization to be “digital-first”. Digital transformation involves more than simply moving everything to the cloud and adopting a variety of digital processes. digital transformation involves a “radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance.” Examples include:
- Upgrading your underlying technology (or replacing legacy systems)
- Shifting the way you serve your customers (e.g. across multiple channels)
- Automating your processes and repeatable tasks for greater efficiency
- Integrating with third parties to deliver better customer experiences.
In essence, true digital transformation is about leveraging all the digital tools at your disposal – including automation
Process Automation is the Key to Digital Transformation
Process automation is a necessary step towards digital transformation. Implementing and socializing automation across the entire business means that entire teams benefit from newly efficient workflow, not just IT. Automating day-to-day workflows lies at the heart of successful digital transformation. Using such a platform, you can digitize forms for employees and customers and automate your routine processes and measure their effectiveness. With this data, you can reduce pain points to drive genuine change and improve business performance in myriad ways. Without workflow automation, you’re still dealing with manual processes, in which case the threat of being disrupted and becoming irrelevant is a real one.
While optimizing the way work is done to improve productivity and efficiency is desirable in itself, for best results, your process automation should align with a broader business strategy. What are you hoping to achieve through automation? How will automation add value for your customers? Can you take it a step further and deliver value that truly differentiates you from your competitors or changes the parameters of your industry completely?
BPA Use Cases – Empowering Finance & HR to Lead in the Digital Age
BPA enables the streamlining of massive tasks – such as grants processing in the US during the COVID-19 crisis. BPA could be deployed to scale operations, increase productivity, improve quality and compliance and enhance back-office processing speeds in areas such as customer service, invoice processing, sales order processing, payroll, and processing HR information. In essence, there’s quite a few key processes you should consider automating to set your business up for greater efficiency and true digital transformation. Here is a couple of examples below:
- Automating finance processes such as accounts payable and receivable can improve your cash flow, but more importantly, it frees up your finance team’s time to allow them to do the analytical work you hired them to do
- Streamlining HR procedures with automation will not only makes HR’s job easier but also saves time, which they can use to attract and retain world class talent. Not only that, but automation can also ensure compliance with regulation and improve data privacy and security, which is essential when dealing with sensitive information.
Why is BPA adoption lagging in Africa?
Business Process Automation (BPA) adoption is lagging in Africa, and local organisations must move to organise their processes and start deploying RPA if they are to catch up with growing global progress towards hyper-automation.
Hyper-automation, in which AI, analytics and BPA start coming together and maturing, is listed as the top trend in Gartner’s list of Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020. But if organisations in Africa can not get basic RPA right, then they can’t even look at AI and hyper-automation. Consequently, we need to get our processes ready, start with RPA and then move towards becoming the automated enterprise.
What are the Benefits of BPA?
Business Process Automation (BPA) makes it beneficial to automate and optimize different processes within the organization. Most of the time, organizations use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate repetitive and manual tasks, such as data processing, launching, and handling applications, etc. Some Benefits of BPA includes:
- Capacity & Scalability
- 24/7 Operations
- Operational speed
- Refocusing highly skilled people
- Internal controls & compliance
- Cost Reduction
- ROI < 1year
Note that BPA is not Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Business Process Management (BPM), Business Intelligence (BI) or AI, but it can be integrated with these systems. And BPA is not a silver bullet – it cannot fix your processes if they are poorly constructed, or if you have data quality issues, broken systems, weak change management or poor architecture.
As you can see, Business Process Automation has endless applications for different industries. By leveraging technology to improve your processes, you can boost productivity and lower operational costs. However, when implementing BPA, you need to put people first. You should not underestimate what many people think when they hear robots and robotics. It helps to start with pilot projects that illustrate the benefits of BPA. Implement BPA where there is a business case for it, and prioritise high-value processes, as it will be too expensive and time-consuming to automate all of your processes. Above all, seek help with your BPA implementation. We at Delta3 International stand ready to work with your organisation to help assess, manage and implement your Business Process Automation strategic approach that meets the specific needs of your organisation.
About the Author
Del Aden is a UK based InfoSec & Business Continuity Consultant, with main focus on helping organisations to implement Digital Transformation, defend their digital infrastructure and plan their Business Continuity Strategies. Del is also a Freelance writer, international Conference speaker and a Global trainer.