What Is Business Process Automation and Why Use It?

As businesses increasingly look to technology to operate more efficiently and profitably, business process automation has emerged as an essential practice. Business process automation is the term used to describe the use of technology to automate certain tasks and processes within a business. Automating such elements of operation lead to improved productivity, and businesses can streamline processes, including document capture, accounts payable, customer and employee onboarding, contracts, and more. McKinsey reports that 45 percent of current paid activities can be automated by today’s technology, saving businesses huge costs.

Here we dive into more detail on how business process automation has revolutionized business productivity.

How Does Business Process Automation Work?

The term encapsulates technologies and practices that automate repeatable tasks within an organization. Businesses use software to do work that was once done by humans – reducing room for error, speeding it up, and freeing those employees to do work that requires more “human” skills. Work that involves intuition, strategy, and empathy can go to employees that exemplify those skills when repeatable work is conducted by automation technologies. One of those critical processes that businesses automate is document capture.

How Does Document Capture Automation Work?

Document capture is the process through which a business collects documents from sources, including paper, email and fax, to extract data automatically. It enables organizations to process incoming documents to capture data and speed up the indexing and management needed for them. This automation technology allows businesses to set rules for how documents are treated, and it ensures that documents route to the right people with user-defined protocols.

Document capture creates digital images of documents regardless of their original source or form to enable users to retrieve data quickly without having to manually process the document. By integrating with other lines of business applications, a document capture solution will move among workflows. It will also learn your business processes over time and be able to identify documents accurately to classify them for you. The solution also allows you to capture documents through hundreds of types of mobile devices – empowering employees in any location to reap the benefits of speedy data extraction.

Why Use Business Process Automation?

A 2017 survey showed that 49 percent of businesses believe automation can deliver more workforce agility, and that it can improve overall scalability of operations. Forrester predicts that using business process automation can help a business cut operating costs by up to 90 percent. With numbers like those, it’s clear why more organizations seek ways to integrate automation into their infrastructures.

The use of business process automation technologies such as document capture automation can drive drastic changes to productivity. When employees paper-based processes or manual tasks no longer bog down employees, they can turn their attention to more high-level work. A few examples:

  • Human Resources: By using automation to streamline HR onboarding, a university can enroll more students and manage their paperwork. Employees do not have to perform manual follow-ups, and a university does not have to hire more people to handle more student documents.
  • Accounts Payable: Invoicing presents a huge opportunity for leveraging business process automation because of its repeatable, granular nature. Invoices have to be error-free and – depending on the organization – the accounts payable department could be buried in them. Accounts payable processes no longer involve chasing down paperwork or redoing work to make up for errors with the advent of invoicing and payment software.
  • Contract Management: For organizations that work with large volumes of contracts, contract management software offers users the ability to work from one unified workspace and streamline the contract process to ensure that contracts are created, negotiated, and signed much more quickly.
  • Legal: Firms often struggle with optimizing attorney time and maximizing billable hours when heavy paperwork is required. Business process automation can take unbillable admin work off attorney plates so firms can become more profitable.

Aside from cutting time wasted from certain departments, business process automation also delivers cultural and compliance-based benefits:

  • Automating repeatable tasks boosts employee motivation because workers are no longer dragging through tedious processes that drain their time and energy. By getting the time back to do more strategic work, they are better able to contribute to your business and feel autonomous and valued.
  • When managers are relieved of rudimentary work, they can better focus on the employees they are supposed to manage. They will have more time to devote to developing employee skillsets and the relationships that power a business.
  • With superior data accuracy and new insights into that data, an organization can be better assured of their compliance with industry regulations. More actionable data means more visibility into your operations – an essential component for meeting compliance rules.

Business process automation is changing the game for organizations on a global level. With more efficient operations, companies of every industry and size can see better profitability, happier employees, and ultimately happier customers.

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