Business Process Automation does seem self-explanatory, but there is plenty built into this term. When we think of business efficiency, effort, labor hours, and resources, we tend to think of improvements as new sweeping business practices, or big software implementations. We have all worked in organizations that are resistant to change. We have heard repeatedly, "That's just the way it's always been done." If you have ever been involved in a big rollout with many users, you understand first-hand how difficult it can be to drive change.
Change does not have to be dramatic to be impactful.
Business Process Automation (BPA) is a series of little wins that deliver big results over the long term. This may not sound very exciting, but in my experience, making small improvements over a longer period is the best way to build goodwill and adoption.
The genius of BPA is that you can deliver tangible improvements that are small, immediate, and obvious. When you deliver value in this way, it is very hard to resist and even harder to undermine. As I worked with clients over the years, I have found that slow, specific improvements are easier for the team to digest and will pick up speed over time.
At UBEO, we tend to focus on specific departments and processes when we partner with a new team. Often BPA begins in accounting where teams see a lot of task repetition. There is usually a standard set of fields and variables which allows for easy process automation. In addition to the standard process, accounting team members also tend to be process-driven and do not appreciate their workflow interrupted.
Enter Business Process Automation. A large majority of firms have email at the center of their accounting processes. Whether it is expense reconciliation or the invoice payment process, many organizations' processes revolve around email and attaching documents. There are many options to complement this process and make small, deliberate improvements. For example, using BPA software, we can kick off a workflow that might queue tasks for triage or sort tasks automatically for specific users. We can then present the user with several different options needing a human decision. Following that decision, we queue approvals or other review stages and kick off other tasks that eliminate the need to email documents.
It is important to understand that we can replicate existing business processes, but improve them slightly. What happens next is that the team sees the potential for process improvements and then starts asking to automate other aspects of their business process. This is how the change process picks up momentum. The team members begin to drive the change as they see the immediate impact of the technology on their daily operations.
The next thing we hear from leaders and team members alike is, "Will we be eliminating jobs by automating so many tasks?" The short answer is no unless that is the desired outcome. It has been my experience, that as we make employees more efficient and productive, those employees redirect hours back into the company in other ways. Firms are not usually cutting employees as they become more efficient, but they reduce hiring needs in the future. As we build more efficiencies into a company, that company can absorb more volume without the need to hire additional workers.
We have yet to see a client regret making their operations more efficient through Business Process Automation. For those companies that make positive change a part of their culture, they gain an advantage over their competition. If a company is willing to invest in partners and technology that drive these types of improvements, you can bet the leadership team is focused on creating positive change in other areas of the organization.
Director of ECM Sales