Strategic Ways to Automate Your Business for Growth
Automating your core business processes can benefit your small and medium-sized business. Here's how to get started.
From balancing internal processes to reporting to external stakeholders and managing customer expectations, managing and operating a small or mid-sized business can be challenging, especially if you are growing.
Business process automation (BPA) can help companies streamline their workflows by letting their software do the heavy lifting. BPA refers to the use of digital technology to automate repetitive and time-consuming admin tasks, which enables businesses to focus on profits instead of operational challenges.
In this post, we will discuss how automation can benefit your small and medium-sized businesses, what key business areas you could automate, and how to get started with BPA.
Benefits of Automating Business Processes
Companies now have more opportunities to strategically automate the core areas of their operations. There are many ways companies benefit from the strategic use of business process automation. The seven most common are:
✅ Reduces Costs
When business processes are manually executed, there is always a significant waste of resources. But with the efficiency of BPA, the cost of operations is minimized, thereby growing the profit margins. Automation utilizes the major resources most optimally and cost-effectively. It also helps businesses manage provider contracts efficiently and favorably discuss the terms.
✅ Minimizes Errors
No matter how capable or skilled your employees are, to err is human. Inefficiencies, delays, and manual slip-ups are too common with manual record-keeping, and you should not underestimate the impact these mistakes can have on your business. It is important to remove the risk of human error as much as possible, which is achievable through process automation tools. When you incorporate automation into your workflows, it helps with substantially decreasing the possibility of errors and avoiding redundancies at the same time.
✅ Maximizes Operational Efficiency
First of all, automated business processes are mainly hands-off, which means there is no need to continually check whether one task in the process is progressing to the next. In addition, automation facilitates identifying and correcting issues or bottlenecks within your operations, which contributes to higher efficiency and demands far less effort from your employees.
✅ Increases Productivity
As a company’s technology demands increase, productivity becomes a more significant concern. Business owners and workers can focus on doing what they do best and trust machines to do the rest with process automation. When most challenging and time-consuming tasks are delegated to automation solutions, the work is completed quickly and with fewer mistakes. This leads to higher productivity. Above all, business process automation also improves employee experience by allowing your workers to focus on engaging tasks.
✅ Standardizes Business Processes
Since many employees and stakeholders are involved, manual processes can get confusing. Everyone has their own filing techniques and ways of handling tasks, which leaves room for discrepancies within your records. For the process to be effective, it needs to be properly designed during the starting phase. The best part about having your business processes automated is that it provides a shortcut to standardization, creating more harmony in your workplace and ensuring no critical steps are missed, or documents get lost.
✅ Ensures Compliance
Lack of compliance with legal regulations can prove costly and inconvenient for organizations everywhere. Luckily, process automation benefits also extend to compliance measures. The automation software help businesses stay compliant with ease. Whenever an automated process runs, the log records the names of the task performers, details of tasks, and the timeline within which they were completed. All these logs can prove helpful during audit trails and show compliance.
✅ Enhances Visibility and Transparency
Organizations can increase visibility and transparency by employing a business automation software system. These tools provide insights into areas that need improvement. The management team can establish a set of key performance indicators (KPI) so that each team knows exactly what they should do to meet their core objectives. Automation also provides transparency into processes, helping teams stay informed about task assignments. As a result, the organization can improve project management, encourage accountability, and increase productivity.
Read More: 6 Signs That Inefficient Processes Are Hurting Your Business
What Can Small & Mid-Sized Businesses Automate?
While many businesses can identify repetitious tasks that could be automated to make processes more efficient, there are some areas where companies can gain immediate and significant benefits. Those include:
Back Office Processes
In general, back-office functions usually involve support from tech staff, help desk teams, and administration. Business process automation streamlines end-to-end workflows between frequently-used back-office applications and cloud-based infrastructures to provide business users and help desk teams with real-time data essential for completing daily operations, such as customer support, data entry, expense reports, invoicing, purchase orders, approval processes, etc.
Organizations automate their file transfers with file transfer management tools. Managed file transfer (MFT) processes and MFT software are usually managed separately from the larger automation environment, making regular business operations more complex. Automation tools for business processes eliminate this complexity by integrating MFT functions into one solution. In addition, BPA manages approvals, signatures, archiving, and electronic requests through a sequential, paperless process. It also promotes secure data movement and file sharing between end-to-end workflows and supports secure file transfer protocols, including FTPS and SFTP.
With BPA, companies can streamline the employee onboarding process by removing the need for manual interventions, which saves time and resources as a result. For instance, through workflow automation, businesses can automate the promotion of user accounts through directory services, adding accounts to the relevant groups, adjusting security settings, and updating information in a database.
Accounts Payable (AP)
The accounts payable automation begins with getting invoice data digitally, usually through scanning, such as optical character recognition (OCR). AP automation enables organizations to process supplier invoices sans any human intervention. Also, it can provide significant cost savings for a business beyond the expected savings from reduced manual tasks. Companies can optimize their provider portfolio, avoid faulty payments, and take advantage of early payment discounts.
Read More: 7 Benefits of AP Automation for Your Small or Mid-Sized Business
How to Get Started with Business Process Automation
While the BPA deployment differs from one organization to another, there are some universal steps to get started. Some companies prefer deploying business process automation across the entire organization, while many find it easier and more productive to begin with, automation at the department level. Following are some steps to help you get started with BPA:
Identify and prioritize processes to automate, considering how much they will push forward short- and long-term business objectives.
Review the process map and pick a process containing a lot of repetitive tasks that has a big opportunity for cost and time savings to automate first. Begin with simpler tasks, like client onboarding, employee onboarding, or basic customer support.
Choose the BPA tools according to the automation tasks identified in your process review and mapping.
Find ways to streamline specific processes like automated order confirmation emails or marketing automation.
Seek input from affected business departments to ensure that automation makes sense for their workflows.
Use the appropriate tools to automate the processes you identified and prioritized before.
There is a likelihood that automation may not work as planned. So, test automation to ensure it is working as expected and providing the desired results.
Measure automation benefits and effectiveness and alter the process as needed.
Automation is essential for any business to achieve excellent results while staying ahead of its competitors. Reliability, availability, productivity, and cost reduction are powerful points to adopting a business management solution that supports automation.
Kwixand Solutions Can Help You Get Started
Our business consultants have decades of years of experience in helping companies across Canada and the United States streamline and automate their business processes, digitally transform, and achieve their business goals. To learn more about how we can help you, book a free consultation with us today.