Slider Arrow Icon
Back to SmartSuite blog
What is Business Process Automation?

What is Business Process Automation?

July 14, 2022

by

What is Business Process Automation?

Every business wants a smooth workflow. 

Why?

Because with a smooth and efficient workflow, you can be more productive with your time. And with more productivity, you’ve got a better chance of growing and developing your business. 

But creating a streamlined workflow is easier said than done. There are a lot of moving parts in the day-to-day operations of a business, and trying to simplify processes can be challenging. 

Fortunately, there is a way to overcome this challenge: business process automation. 

In this article, we’ll talk you through what business process automation is, the benefits of using it, and how to create automation for your business. 

What Is Business Process Automation? 

Business process automation (or BPA) is pretty much what it sounds like: the automation of business processes. 

Businesses automate repetitive, day-to-day tasks to streamline their processes and make their workflows more efficient using artificial intelligence. For example, you could create an automation that assigns new leads to sales reps.  

As soon as a new lead moves into the funnel, your automation will immediately assign the lead to a sales rep. This means no one has to assign leads manually, and none of them will fall through the cracks. They’ll all get picked up by the system. 

What Is Business Process Automation

So how exactly does automation work? 

In all honesty, it depends on the type of automation you want to create. 

You can create a simple automation that moves your workflow along when certain tasks are complete. Or you can create something a little more complex, like a multi-step workflow recipe with various triggers and actions. 

But no matter how simple or complex, every automation is triggered by an action. 

An action could be anything from filling out a form to completing a task within a project. It’s up to you to decide what the action should be within your automation. 

Automate status change and send a notification

When the action is complete, the automation technology kicks in and does what it needs to do. Whether that’s sending a series of follow-up emails or scheduling a post to social media, you can sit back, relax, and watch the automation work its magic. 

And the best part? Most business automation software is low-code/no-code. In other words, you don’t have to be a seasoned developer to create automation. 

Look at SmartSuite as an example. With our platform, businesses can create workflow automations without using a single piece of code. 

Automations Without A Line of Code

Instead, you can use our drag-and-drop feature to easily create automations in a matter of minutes. 

Why Use Business Process Automation?

Identifying areas of improvement in your processes can be a time-consuming task. You have to review every stage of the workflow and find areas that can be streamlined with the automation.

And when that’s done, you then have to actually create the automation. 

Simply put, business process automation isn’t always a straightforward process.

But there’s a reason 66% of businesses say automation is essential. The benefits of automation outweigh the time spent creating them, especially when you consider how much time you’ll save in the long run. 

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of business process automation in more detail. 

Improve Productivity 

When done well, automation makes your workflow more efficient. 2 out of 3 employees say that automation has helped them increase productivity. 

That’s quite a large chunk of the workforce that says automation has directly impacted their productivity. To be honest, this isn’t all that surprising. 

With less time spent on mundane and repetitive tasks, team members have more time to focus on completing more important work. Processes run smoother, projects get completed with ease, and there’s consistency across the entire company. This increases overall productivity and helps teams use their time efficiently. 

Not to mention, it also reduces the chance of human error and minimizes bottlenecks in the workflow. 

But despite the evidence, 94% of employees still perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks. There’s still a lot of improvement to be made when it comes to implementing automation. 

Take a look at our guide to workflow automation to make sure you follow the best practices. 

Increase Customer Satisfaction

Today’s consumers have high expectations. They want a personalized experience, and they’re much more selective about the purchases they make. 

Fortunately, automation can help you meet their high standards. 

When your internal business processes run smoothly, you’ve got more time to focus on customer experience. 

Think about customer service as an example. If your customer service reps spend less time working on repetitive and mundane tasks, they have more time to focus on your customers. Your customers get a better experience because your business processes are running smoothly. 

And if you’re also using marketing automation, you’ll be able to personalize parts of the customer journey, too. Customers can get a unique and tailored experience, and you’re more likely to increase conversions. It’s a win-win. 

Example of Business Process Automation: HR Automation 

From the employee onboarding process to company-wide training, there are a lot of processes and procedures in place when it comes to human resources. And as you can imagine, keeping these processes efficient and consistent across the business is easier said than done. 

But this is where automation can help. Let’s use the interviewing process as an example. 

With the right automation platform, HR managers can automate the interviewing process based on the outcomes and recommendations of interviewers. For example, let’s say a candidate passes an initial screening interview from HR.

At this stage in the process, the HR rep flips the status to Stage 2: Internal Interviews. From this stage, notifications are automatically sent to the interviewers. The interview itself is also scheduled in the calendar. 

This simple automation saves time and allows you to streamline the hiring process, getting new employees in the door as quickly as possible. 

And if you want to see how HR automation can really help a business, take a look at this use case from an HR Manager: 

Using SmartSuite’s automations, the hiring process became a much simpler and less stressful experience. 

How To Automate Business Processes 

By now, you’ve got the gist of what a business process automation is. 

But how do you put your newfound knowledge into action? 

Luckily for you, we’re about to take you through the four key steps you need to follow to start automating your own business processes.  

1. Review Your Current Business Processes

To automate your business processes effectively, you need to understand your current situation. This will give you the foundation you need to identify areas of improvement. 

To do this, we’d suggest completing a business process review. 

If you’re not familiar with the phrase, it’s essentially a template that’ll guide you through the steps you need to take to review your business processes. It includes the following information: 

Identify current processes

  1. In this section, you’ll identify and map out different processes. 
  2. The aim is to understand how your processes work on a day-to-day basis, so take a look at the existing processes across all areas of the business. 

Analyze processes

  1. Next, spend some time reviewing the processes you outlined in the previous step. This will give you a better idea of how the processes work within your workflow. 
  2. You’ll also need to talk to team members and stakeholders to gather their feedback on the processes. This will help give you a well-rounded view of how your current processes perform and what areas might need some optimization. 

Identify areas of process improvement

  1. Now, it’s time to identify areas of process improvement. Based on all the information you’ve gathered so far, you should be able to see where the shortcomings are and what you can do to put things right. 
  2. If you can’t easily see any, think about where repetitive and time-consuming tasks take place and how these can be automated. 

Create an automation plan

  1. Having an automation plan can be incredibly helpful, especially if you identify a lot of processes that can be automated. A plan will ensure all your proposed automations are stored in a central location, making it easy to refer to when you start making them live.
  2. We’d suggest using a work management platform (like SmartSuite) to create the plan, particularly if you’re already using one to manage your workflow. This will keep everything aligned and make it easy for you to track and monitor the progress of your new processes. 

By the end of this review, you’ll be in a good position to start your digital transformation and update your processes. You’ll be familiar with your current processes, how they structure your workflow, and what you want to automate going forward. 

2. Use The Right Business Process Management (BPM) Software 

To effectively automate your workflow, you need to use the right business process automation software. If you don’t, you risk missing out on some of the key features and functions you need to automate your processes effectively. 

In other words, you need to find a platform that offers you all the features and customizations you need. 

But how do you know what features you need? And even then, how do you know which automation solution is the right one? 

Let’s tackle this one step at a time. 

To find out what features you need, think about your existing processes. Is there anything that would make it easier to manage these processes on a day-to-day basis? Or any functions you currently have that you couldn’t live without? Compile these features into a document ready for the next step. 

Using the information from your document, you can start to sift through the process automation tools that match your criteria. By outlining these features beforehand, you’re able to identify the platforms that suit your needs and make your search a whole lot faster. 

Let’s look at an example. 

Imagine that you want an automation system that offers custom automations, collaboration features, and workflow management. In this situation, an all-in-one work management platform (like SmartSuite) could be just what you need. 

3. Automate Your Processes 

Create rules to automatically trigger actions

At this stage, you know what you want to automate, and you’ve got the right business process management software in place. 

Now, it’s time to put the automations in place. 

Unfortunately, there’s no generic way to create an automation. Every platform is different. But to give you an idea of what to expect, here’s how the automation process works.

  • Select the relevant source: What will trigger the automation?
  • Specify your rules: What needs to happen in the process to activate the trigger?
  • Select the target: Where should the action be performed?
  • Set the actions: What specific action should be performed within the automation?

And voila! You’ve now got business process automation in your workflow. 

It’s also worth noting here that automation can impact other processes, as well as how resources are used. 

Keep this in mind when you create new automations. You need to make sure you’re aware of your automation's impact on the rest of the workflow. And be sure to update relevant teams and employees, too.

4. Track And Monitor Progress 

The automations are live, but the work doesn’t stop there. 

To make sure everything is working as it should, you’ll need to continually track and monitor their performance. 

In theory, all of your automations will save time. But in reality, there might be some hurdles to overcome, especially during the early stages. 

So when your automations are live, make sure you’re keeping on top of how they’re performing. Are there any glitches or areas where the automation isn’t streamlining your processes as well as it should? The only way you’ll find out is to keep an eye on things. 

Of course, you can wait a while until these areas of improvement come to light. But it’s better to be proactive and put things right before it causes delays to your workflow. 

This is where using work management software can be incredibly helpful. With the right platform, you’ll be able to track your automation in real-time. 

This means you can instantly see how your automations are performing and make any necessary changes. 

Use Business Automation To Streamline Processes Today

When done well, your automation efforts can undoubtedly help your business become more efficient. As a result, your productivity levels will increase, and your customers will receive a better experience. 

To take charge of your business operations and start improving the efficiency of your workflow, have a look at SmartSuite. 

Our platform helps teams manage their entire workflow from one location, and our automations help you keep your business processes running as smoothly as possible. Not to mention, our user interface is intuitive and easy to use.