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Did you know that nearly half of work processes could be automated? Imagine how much time and costs you could save, how many tedious tasks you could cut down on. Today, business process automation is no longer a luxury; it’s a ticket toward company growth.

Unconvinced? Read on.

Despite the many benefits of automatizing your business, it may seem daunting to leap forward. In this ultimate guide to business process automation, we cover everything you need to know about business automation, as well as how to get started.

What is business process automation?

Business process automation means using technology to automate daily tasks in the workplace through automation tools and software applications. So instead of your team getting stuck into doing repetitive, mundane tasks, business process automation enables businesses to operate more efficiently, saving companies time, money, and resources in the long run.

What business processes can be automated?

Whether you’re looking to make workflows more seamless or improve your team’s efficiency, business process automation helps companies stay on top of their game.

There are many important areas in your business that needs automation. Below are a few common examples of business process automation applications.

  • Customer support
  • Employee onboarding
  • Operations management
  • Email automation
  • Social media management
  • Project management

Business process automation applications that work

Let’s go a bit deeper by showing you real-life scenarios of how to apply automation at work.

Owner of a marketing agency

You’ve got a team of fifty employees, plus a handful of high-value clients. You’re running multiple campaigns at once. How are you going to keep the communication going? Using a business process automation tool like Slack will do wonders for your team collaboration. Packed with apps and bots, Slack is a handy tool that saves you time on daily office tasks. You can chat with your team, schedule meetings, do video conference calls, plus integrate other workflows into the app.

Owner of a network of gyms

Imagine you’re running a network of gyms. How are you going to ensure your services are running smoothly, plus your customers are kept happy? Using a business process automation tool will allow you to get a birds-eye view of your gyms’ processes, helping your operations in real-time. The end result? You’ll enhance communication between all gyms, boost management capacity, and reduce the volume of unnecessary emails.

Business process automation benefits

There are a whole host of business process automation benefits, but below are the most important ones.

  • Processes at work become more streamlined, transparent, and cost-effective.
  • Minimize room for human error.
  • Automating workflows ensures best practices are easily integrated into the workplace, improving operational efficiency.
  • Automating manual business processes enables companies to devote more time to serving their clients or engaging in other meaningful tasks.

How to get started with automizing your business

You don’t have to be a corporate giant to enjoy the benefits of business automation. Here are a few manageable ways of automizing your business so it continues to run without a hitch.

1. Start with automating easy tasks

Make a list of daily tasks your team repeatedly does. How can business process automation replace these tasks? Next, compile a list of business process automation software applications you could implement, or enlist the help of an automation consultancy that can take care of the whole process for you from start to finish.

2. Cultivate a workplace culture that accepts automation

Be clear on the benefits of automation, both in your team’s daily functions and how it’ll help them grow. Show them the ropes, create some guidelines on using the new software.

3. Focus on one business process automation at a time

Pick a function with a concrete return on investment. Ultimately, you want to be cutting down on costs, not increasing them.

4. Join forces with an automation consultant

Getting rid of repetitive tasks and replacing them with automation tools isn’t as easy as it sounds. Getting an automation consultant on board will help you to do the following:

  • Consult on processes you could automate and save money on.
  • Do the automation implementation.
  • Provide Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) documentation to ensure the processes are rolled out across the organization.

Best practices for business process automation

Ready to embrace automation? Here are some best practices to avoid common pitfalls.

1. Know your terminology

There are two main types of business process automation.

Robotic process automation (RPA)

RPA solutions are applied to automate repeatable, standard workflows. Think of the areas where your staff is stuck doing day-to-day tasks. Chances are, employing RPA will work wonders for saving time and boosting your team’s productivity. A good example of applying RPA technology is chatbots in customer service.

Intelligent automation

Intelligent automation takes a step further from RPA. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to add a deeper layer of flexibility to automation tools. It’s considered an extremely valuable type of automation that enables software to collect data from businesses and drive forward smart decisions for efficiency purposes. An excellent example is Customer Relationship Management (CRM). A good CRM software can pretty much eliminate manual tasks, freeing up staff to focus on the sales that matter.

2. Get your data in check

Automation is powered by data. Whatever business process automation you opt for, you must have your data in order. If you have data gaps in your business, you won’t be able to integrate automation into those use cases.

3. Start small, but think big picture

Solving targeted pain points with automation is great. Start small, but think about holistic automation in the long term. Applying smart automation systems to your business works best when you use structured and unstructured data to automate workflows. As you get more comfortable with automation, expand your automation strategies for maximum impact.

Business automation trends in 2021

2020 was a challenging year for the world. Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have had to shift to remote working. Subsequently, businesses have had to find new ways to simplify internal processes and create a more stable work environment. The good news is that many companies have adapted quickly by embracing business automation trends.

Here are a few business automation trends to watch out for in 2021.

The advent of hyper-automation

Hyper-automation is a phrase plucked from media outlet Gartner, who coined hyper-automation as the next big thing. It means streamlining as many tasks, activities, and processes as possible. Hyper-automation pairs intelligent business process management, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation to process information at lightning speed.

Voice-activated automation

Take Amazon Alexa and Google Play for instance. That’s voice-activated automation in a nutshell. It’s become somewhat of a household staple, and experts predict it’ll become a trend at work too.

Marketing automation

Let’s face it, the world revolves around marketing these days. And when it comes to marketing automation, it’s a Godsend for marketers looking to personalize customer engagement. Today, SaaS companies thrive on marketing automation tools. Take Hubspot for instance. It’s a high-powered marketing software, enabling you to simultaneously power your website, keep your contact lists updated, build workflows and segment lists.

Is automation a friend or foe?

Hollywood has long portrayed automation as a foe, an evil ‘terminator’ that will end the world. Nowadays, the picture is different. The truth is, automation has made all our lives easier. From the timer in the microwave to the elevator button, automation has improved our quality of living and enabled us to save time on manual tasks and become more productive as a society in general.

On the downside, there are a couple of disadvantages of business process automation. Namely, there are upfront costs to investing in automation tools, plus a higher level of maintenance is needed to ensure automation runs smoothly. When thinking about the disadvantages of business process automation, another thing to flag is, automation only performs what it’s programmed to do. People, on the other hand, can do more tasks.

In the end, automation comes packed with pros and cons, but it’s most definitely our friend.

Save time and money with business process automation

At DeepIdea Lab, our sole mission is to make it easy for you to automize your business. Partner with us to elevate your team with customized automated workplace solutions.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and let’s move forward in scaling your business.

Surya Sanchez

Founder of DeepIdea Lab. A digital agency focused on automation.