Business process automation – part 1 Let’s get to know each other21/11/2019
It always starts with a small business. A few people, simple procedures, everything arranged from desk to desk, quickly and without downtime. The company is growing, the number of employees is growing, as are the customers. To meet the growing number of orders, new procedures are introduced, and new methods of customer service are developed. It works for a while, and then … new products are no longer enough. Then what? Is there any rescue? Maybe business process automation?
What does business process automation mean?
Business process automation supposes to connect and simplify company processes. It involves moving existing procedures and processes in a company to a computer program, application or intranet. Its purpose is to transform and transfer to the digital form of company processes so that the work was simpler and could be performed and more accurately. Automation of business processes can apply to both internal activities carried out in the company (for example, arranging work schedules) and activities for the client (for example, invoicing or recording hours worked for the client).
This is a theory. And what does the practice look like? Let’s try to visualize it on the example.
The X company is housed in a large building that it shares with other companies. X has many guests – contractors come to meetings, clients appear, collaborators from other branches, suppliers. Each time an employee of the company arranged a meeting at the reception desk, separately booked a room shared with other companies, chatted in front of the entrance before the meeting, made sure that the guest entries and exits were in the book of entries … A lot of issues to be covered, right?
It can be simpler. In this case, business process automation can consist of creating and implementing an application that will allow all companies operating in the building to book rooms and keep a guest register together. Shared intranet? Calendar in Outlook? Or maybe a combination of these things and an electronic book to enter and exit the building? There are many possibilities, but one goal – to transform this multi-stage, not very coordinated process into a logical sequence of activities carried out from behind a computer.
Instead of handwriting
When it comes to change, there is always one question: but for what? It works, we’ve been working this way for a long time, we don’t need business process automation. Could it be?
- Speed - good tools help at work, there is no doubt about it. Thanks to Word and the printer, we don’t have to write texts manually. So why not apply similar solutions, even in the flow of documents in a company or HR? If invoicing the customer or counting working hours will require a few clicks, it will free up time for other, equally needed tasks.
- Order in company processes – business process automation is a good excuse to look again at way we work. Solutions that have been around for some time are often taken for granted. And how much depends on them on personal habits or convenience of the people who set them! If we are taking for the automation of business processes, it is worth checking whether all the activities to be performed in the process are necessary. Maybe you can skip some? Perform differently? Business process automation is primarily to improve work, and verification of its elements is one of the components of this process.
- Greater efficiency – well-designed and made electronic work tools help not only to speed up work, but also to increase its effects. Example? The accounting department gets a good tool for registering invoices. All documents will be organized, it will be easy to control payment dates and locate payment dates. No arrears, transparent finances, easy preparation for inspection. The effects are obvious.
Can any of the disadvantages of business process automation be mentioned? Maybe a few: the need to change the way of thinking and a critical view of the organization of the company, choosing the right technological solutions … Do they outweigh the advantages of this process?
In the next episode of the series, we will show examples of companies that have introduced electronic work tools to their organization.