Strategic Approaches to Business Process Automation

    By Nooshin Yazhari, VP eBusiness and Technologies

    Managing manual processes, document reviews and approvals, and internal and external communication points can be overwhelming, time consuming, and sometimes overly complicated. All these steps and processes, if left un-managed and conducted manually, can lead to poor performance, delays, and ultimately cause higher operational costs and client dissatisfaction.

    Take the HR Employee Onboarding process as an example: recruiting, hiring, and then giving the new hire access to systems and training materials requires cross-departmental coordination, piles of paperwork, and multiple internal and external processes. Having the ability to quickly and easily turn time-consuming, manual steps into automated, efficient workflows could mean that your Recruiting and HR teams can now focus on locating great people, making them feel welcome, and enabling them to contribute more quickly.

    What is Business Process Automation?

    Business Process Automation (BPA) is a powerful tool for increasing productivity and optimizing operations while decreasing the time/money/human resources required to complete repetitive, routine, and time-consuming tasks.

    When moving from manual processes to automation, every department or function can benefit from streamlined and automated workflows that connect their people, processes, and content together:

    •         Human Resources: Expedite recruiting and onboarding, manage PTO requests and performance reviews, internal surveys, reduce paperwork and administrative costs.
    •         Information Technology: Provision user accounts, manage and track IT assets, manage help desk requests, track projects, and improve quality control and testing.
    •         Marketing: Plan campaigns and events, review and approve content and collateral.
    •         Sales: Manage RFP’s and contracts, engage more with customers by managing their queries and feedback.
    •         Finance: Simplify budget requests and expense approvals, invoice processing, improve data accuracy and visibility, ensure regulatory compliance, and reduce risk.
    •         Procurement: Manage purchase orders and service agreements, optimize vendor management.
    •         Facilities: Organize work orders and lease agreements, manage move in/move out requests.


    Evaluating Options

    There are many options for business process automation, from off-the-shelf solutions to custom enterprise applications.  When assessing options, keep the following considerations in mind:

    • Company size:  Select a solution that is right for the size of your organization. Small businesses and multinational enterprises have very different needs.
    • Price/Budget: Applications are an investment. Calculate the payback period and ROI, and evaluate the lifetime cost in terms of time, resources, maintenance and support.
    • Integration: List existing platforms and systems that will need to connect to the new application and ensure that the new platform will integrate with these applications.
    • Deployment: Is the new technology cloud-based and available across devices? Can the user build forms and design workflows without programming or coding skills, or does the application require time-consuming custom development by highly skilled (and sometimes hard to find) IT resources?

    There are several business-user-friendly drag-and-drop solutions, like Nintex® and Microsoft Flow, which provide the process automation platform for a robust form and workflow automation engine. Those solutions usually integrate with other powerful, commercial applications such as Office 365, SharePoint, Salesforce, SAP, and other commercial software to expand the functionality and capabilities of the automation platform.  Using these tools, organizations can streamline and automate their everyday processes resulting in simplified communications, error reduction, time and cost savings, and greater compliance and accuracy.

    Some of the key features and capabilities of the drag-and-drop process automation tools are:

    •         Building electronic forms and automated workflows quickly and with minimal help from IT resources.
    •         Integrating with a wide range of commercial applications and Cloud solutions, including Office 365, Box, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Dousing, Amazon Cloud and Azure, and more.
    •         Building comprehensive native mobile apps to access forms & workflows on any device.

    Automatically generating documents, delivering workflow notifications using email and instant messenger, annotating and printing process diagrams, and much more.

    Accelerate Business Results

    Organizations that automate workflows are more efficient, more productive, and more engaged with customers because they’re not bogged down by manual, time-consuming processes.  Business process automation can also boost employee satisfaction by enabling mobility and freeing staff to focus on more creative and strategic work.

    Clear vision of organizational goals combined with the right technology can be the starting point for continuous improvement and a level of organizational efficiency that makes working with your business a pleasure.


    Published by:

    Nooshin Yazhari, PMP