What is Process Automation? Explained Simply
What is Process Automation?
Process automation is the use of technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of a business’ processes. It can help reduce costs, make processes more consistent, and increase productivity. Automation tools include software programs, scripts, and plugins that are used to automate tasks in a process or system. Many businesses today are automating processes to achieve more significant business outcomes. By automating processes, companies can improve their efficiency and accuracy, as well as their bottom line.
What are the benefits of Process Automation for businesses?
There are a lot of benefits to process automation for businesses. By automating tediously or repetitive tasks, companies can save time and money. Reducing the risk of human error also helps to protect a business’s reputation and operations. In addition, automated approvals and report consolidation help improve company communication and allow humans to do more exciting and important work. In a nutshell, process automation frees your workforce to do what they’re genuinely best at – creating value for your business. Little wonder that surveys and polls by Gartner in 2021 show that over 80% of organizations consistently self-report increased or continued investment in hyperautomation initiatives.
How do Process Automation tools work?
Process automation tools have been around for a while, but their potential has only recently been realized. They’re fantastic tools that allow you to capture business processes and document them, then reduce the need for human intervention. Reducing human effort saves time and money while improving predictability. In some cases, they can even remove the need for human intervention entirely! This makes process automation an incredibly valuable tool for businesses of all sizes.
Understanding how process automation works is key to understanding its benefits. For example, HR can use automation tools to automate the onboarding of new staff members. Onboarding managers and HR partners can complete the process more efficiently, creating an excellent first impression of the organization. Automation tools are versatile and can be used for a variety of applications and systems. So, whether you’re looking to streamline a process, save time, or improve employee morale, process automation is an excellent place to start.
What are some common process automation tools?
Process automation is automating business processes to make them more efficient and effective. There are a variety of process automation tools that can be used, depending on the specific business needs. Some of the most common process automation tools include software, pipeline management tools, and scripting languages. Depending on the particular automation needs, you may also consider using dedicated business process automation (BPA) tools, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools, or exploiting existing capabilities in your existing business software. Let’s take a look at some of the available tools.
Microsoft Power Automate
Microsoft’s Power Automate is an automation tool bundled into Microsoft’s 365 suite. If your organization already uses Microsoft for email, office apps, and SharePoint, then you may already be licensed to use Power Automate. It is aimed squarely at business users rather than software developers. You can automate local processes on your work PC by linking data in Excel to other Microsoft applications, or you can use it to build custom apps for use within your organization by linking Power Automate with Microsoft Power Apps. The interface is straightforward and allows simple or more complex flows to be automated by dragging and dropping code blocks in a browser.
UiPath is robotic process automation (RPA) platform for automation. The UiPath software platform offers enterprise-level solutions to automate repetitive office tasks to accelerate business transformation. Central to UiPath’s offering is RPA ‘bots’, which can perform tasks ordinarily completed by humans by emulating keystrokes and mouse movements, logging in to web applications, and working with Citrix platforms. In addition, UiPath offers a full suite of automation products, including data mining. It also integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to make decisions based on various factors. HotPMO is a UiPath partner, so if you are interested in learning more about how UiPath could benefit your organization, speak to us today.
Process automation is crucial in ensuring that business processes run smoothly and error-free. TallyFly is an excellent process automation tool that makes your workflow much easier to manage. To get the most out of TallyFly, start by mapping out your process flow in it. Once you have this overview, use its integrations to automate tasks as needed. This will ensure that all steps are executed and tracked automatically, resulting in a streamlined process that runs more efficiently and effectively.
If you’re looking for a tool that can help manage and track your processes visually, Trello could be the perfect fit for you. Of course, many organizations will already be using Trello. But not many realize that Trello also contains some automation capabilities using services it calls ‘Butler.’ Used mainly for project management but also applicable to automated customer service, Trello can help you streamline repetitive tasks, so your business runs more smoothly. In addition to this, it’s helpful at a small team level. If your workplace is chaotic, it helps keep everything organized and straightforward to navigate. Check out our article on Trello Automation to understand more about Trello automation capabilities: https://www.hotpmo.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-trello-automation-hotpmo-com/
Portfolio Project Management (PPM) tools are commonly used within large organizations that run large change portfolios with multiple projects. They are used to keep track of project expenditure and whether projects are on track. More advanced PPM implementations also incorporate resource management and include features that help PMO and Portfolio optimize project portfolios to achieve business objectives. Popular PPM tools include Antura, Shark Tower, Clarity PPM, and Oracle Primavera P6.
If your organization already uses a PPM tool, then it is worth exploring what process automation opportunities are built in. They will typically include automated flows optimized for project organizations and PMO teams. Therefore you can expect to find processes such as project reporting and change management easy to automate within the software using pre-existing templates, flows, or scripts.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems comprise of various modules to automate accounting, supply chains, operations, and HR processes. Large organizations use ERP systems to manage and integrate complex business processes. ERP companies include Oracle, SAP, and Workday. While powerful tools, they can often be expensive to maintain, requiring specialist development and integrations. The processes you would typically automate with an ERP system are those that are not prone to change and generally align with templates or standard flows within the ERP, as this minimizes the need for custom development.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are used for marketing, sales, and customer care teams. They keep track of customer engagements and are used to track journeys through sales funnels and marketing campaigns. Marketing teams can use them to shape powerful email marketing campaigns and send them out at pre-set intervals. Lead capture forms automate collecting leads from website visitors and automatically adding them to a lead management system (LMS). Contact management systems also automate managing customer contact data by storing all information in one place so that it’s easy to search, filter and track changes over time.
Am I ready for process automation?
Before you get process automation, ensure you are ready for it. Automation can significantly increase productivity within your business. However, process automation isn’t for everyone. If your organization is highly dynamic, or if you have little in the way of defined processes, then you may not be ready to leap into tools such as RPA just yet.
It is essential to define your processes and determine which ones are high volume and repetitive. Next, measure the elapsed time for the process and the amount of human touch time required. Finally, look at the quality of the process outputs and decide whether the level of variance is acceptable. These factors will help you decide whether investing in automation will save you time and money. Once you have a good understanding of your processes, automating them can significantly improve efficiency and workflow. For more help preparing for BPA, look at our article on preparing for automation: https://www.hotpmo.com/blog/preparing-a-workforce-for-automation/.
What business processes should I automate?
The best processes to automate are those that are high-volume with low variance. These repetitive processes are where teams can deploy automation to streamline the business and improve efficiency. Most tools also have logging and audit capability, so they can also help to comply with regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley or HIPAA. Automation can help to improve data accuracy, speed up tasks and reduce the time taken to process jobs. It can also help to reduce the error rate and make task processing more accurate. Here are some examples of areas where automation can be beneficial:
Project Management / PMO Processes
- Approval processes
- Critical path tracking
- Work intake process flows
- Project Initiation processes such as folder structure creation
- Resource renewal and tracking
- Rollup reporting and dashboard maintenance
- Project analytics
- Bottleneck identification
- RAG status assessment
- Audit and compliance health checks
Customer Care Processes
- Voice bots and natural language chatbots
- Password resets
- Account information/account inquiries
- Change of address/change of information
- Providing shipping updates
- Agent onboarding / off boarding
IT / Technology
- Evaluate requests
- Self-service (e.g., password reset)
- Automated approvals
- Automated testing
- Schedule routine tasks
- employee onboarding
Finance and Accounting
- Process receipts
- Create and submit requisitions
- Run payment process
- Create and submit purchase orders
- Invoice collection and entry
- Process journal entries
- Reconcile ledgers
- Monitor controls
How can RPA help with Process Automation?
Robotic Process Automation is a rapidly growing technology area. Its ability to emulate human interaction with multiple systems and its ease of deployment is often seen as a way of delivering quick wins as part of digital transformation and efficiency programs. Companies can achieve ROI rapidly with RPA bots operating around seven times the speed of a human operator while not making mistakes. The benefits of RPA software are that legacy systems can quickly be integrated with more digital systems without the need for designing and building new interfaces. The bot emulates the steps a human operator would follow and works directly with the user interface.
Find out how a Dublin hospital used RPA to give doctors and nurses more time with patients during the Covid outbreak here: https://www.hotpmo.com/blog/automation-in-a-time-of-covid-19/
Book a chat today to learn more about how RPA can benefit your organization.
What is Citizen Development?
With more of the workforce becoming tech literate, we have seen a rise in so-called citizen development. Citizen developers are non-IT employees in the organization who use low-code or no-code tools to make work more efficient.
People outside of IT have been automating business processes for years, using macros and linked spreadsheets. But the recent explosion of low-code tools means that more organizations are looking at Citizen Development as becoming something integral to their business efficiency programs.
The benefits to Citizen Development are high. After all, people who do the work daily are arguably best placed to automate it. But it needs to be carefully managed to ensure it is done safely. Recently, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has introduced a framework and training for safe and productive Citizen Development. You can view the courses here: https://www.pmi.org/citizen-developer.
Getting help with business process automation
If you want to embark on a business process automation or business process management (BPM) program in your organization, then HotPMO can help. We are UiPath Partners, so we can provide detailed and expert advice on how automation software can benefit your organization. We can help you identify suitable candidate processes, advise on best practices, offer training sessions to your employees, and help you put light-touch governance in place.
If you are considering workflow automation or want to know more about the benefits of RPA, then book a chat with us today, and we can help you turn your ideas into reality.