What is business process automation (and what is it not)?



You sit at your desk, stuck completing mandatory, tedious tasks that require almost no brain function on your part. Your team seems unmotivated, and your business growth is going slower than you’d hoped.

Searching for a better way to get these soul-sucking tasks done, you come across the term ‘business process automation’. It sounds good and looks like it might be the answer to your problems. But you aren’t sure if it’s right for you.

So, what is business process automation? What is it not?


What is business process automation?

Business process automation (BPA) does what it says on the tin. That is, it automates business processes – either simple tasks or multi-layered workflows.

You might have heard it called robotic process automation, which refers to the notion of “software bots” or implies artificial intelligence input.

Either way, the automation of business processes typically involves an automation platform, multiple system integrations, and a series of conditional processing rules. (If this happens, then do that.)


What is it good for?

Business process automation is useful for tasks big and small. First, it can take monotonous, mundane, or repetitive tasks off your hands. But it’s also capable of handling complex tasks and orchestrating larger workflows. (I.e., ones that involve a series of steps and actions across multiple applications.)

In fact, one of the best things about automation software is that it is so flexible. Don’t think of BPA as an out of the box solution. It’s more of a customisable platform that you control. You set rules for the software to follow, and you design workflows to cover the tasks you want automating. Then, BPA does your bidding.

This means that business process automation can help you with any area of your business, from customer management to sales processes to IT workflows. It’s really up to you.

So, there’s no one single thing that BPA is good for. Instead, automation will do whatever you need it to do so that you can focus on the more challenging and higher value tasks.


How does it work?

Business process automation software works on a series of triggers, rules, and actions. You configure your own custom deployment, with the rules and workflows you need. Then, you can leave it to run in the background while you get on with more important work.

A process is triggered by a business event, such as a new inbound email or a web form submission. This starts a domino effect of predefined workflow steps; which BPA will carry out automatically. The end result is dependant on your rules.

It might be an updated database, a new CRM record, an auto-response sent, a triggered phone call, or any number of desired outcomes. The point is: the tasks you would otherwise have to monitor and manage manually just run automatically on your behalf.


Why is it so useful?

Business process automation comes with a string of benefits. The time, cost and resource savings alone are compelling.

But incorporating BPA has many additional upshots, such as (but by no means exclusively):

• Improved employee satisfaction

Your employees are likely to feel far happier in their jobs with BPA behind them. It means they can spend their time doing work that’s worthwhile.

• Increased productivity

Happier employees will often lead to an increased work rate. And, because the run-of-the-mill routine tasks are taken care of, productivity is supercharged. Your new increased work rate is channelled into tasks that further the goals of your business.

• Increased accuracy and reliability

Boredom leads to errors. When you just want to get the task finished as quickly as possible, mistakes are made (and remain unnoticed). This can cause wide-scale problems further down the line. BPA is far less susceptible to human error (if it has been programmed correctly to begin with).


What is business process automation not good for?

Business process automation cannot take over every process and task. Any attempt to use it in this way will reduce its effectiveness. For this reason, business process automation isn’t a replacement for your human employees.

The best way to think about BPA is as an assistant to your team, rather than their substitute.

It’s also not an out of the box product – it’s a platform for you to create your own, bespoke business automation solution. As such, it takes time to set up. It’s not powered by any kind of artificial intelligence, so it doesn’t learn, and it isn’t ‘smart’.


To sum up

So, what is business process automation? In a nutshell: it’s the future of efficiency.

If you often find yourself longing to do higher value work or wishing your team could spend their time furthering the progress of your business, business process automation is the answer.

Business process automation can’t fix everything, but it has the potential to positively affect efficiency, employee satisfaction, costs and paperwork reduction. Try a 30-day free trial of ThinkAutomation to see for yourself.