Big Benefits of Business Process Automation (SERIES: Part 1 of 5)
Leverage Business Process Automation To Up-Level Your Business
If you’re not interested in increasing productivity, saving money, and staying competitive, you don’t need to read this article.
Business process automation will help you achieve all three — and then some. By my count, there are 23 key benefits for your business.
When you leverage business process automation to up-level your business, you set the stage for a fundamental and transformational shift in areas like finance and accounting, sales, human resources, customer experience, and more.
Far from the new kid on the block, business process automation has been gaining awareness and adoption for years. And, like so many other things, the pandemic put it into overdrive. In early 2021 Forbes predicted the shift toward automation would continue through 2021 and beyond, reducing operational costs, encouraging better customer relationships, and even redefining management. For 2022, Forbes has now tagged automation as the #2 biggest business trend and the #1 tech trend that will dominate business in the coming year.
Business process automation is effective across industries and business sizes because it’s custom-tailored to your company, your processes, and your goals. It’s all about choosing the right process and tools to make an intentional impact on your business. Of course, I also think it’s critical to choose the right consultant — like Fahrenheit — to partner with you to help you achieve a successful automation result.
In this first blog of a 5-part series on business process automation, I’ll explain what it is, why you need it now, and where to get started.
What is Business Process Automation?
Business process automation — called BPA and also known as digital transformation — is the technology-enabled automation of complex business processes, typically involving manual inputs and multiple enterprise IT systems. Simply put, it’s using software to automate repeatable multi-step transactions across your business, taking humans out of the equation.
The goals of business process automation are efficiency and effectiveness, both of which save you time and money, and are essential to the health of your business and its future growth potential.
Where can you make an impact? Across the enterprise. Connecting front- and back-end technologies, including systems that manage sales strategy, lead generation, contracting, order management, invoicing, and more, can create automation opportunities that drive incredible new efficiencies in mission-critical activities, such as:
- Fulfilling customer orders
- Managing accounts payable
- Recruiting employees
- Completing financial reporting
Automated processes eliminate human error, ensure adherence to approved processes and workflows, and regulate compliance — to deliver better results. They also free your team from monotonous, tedious tasks so they can instead focus on more strategic initiatives. This not only boosts employee morale but your business performance as well.
Proven Results for Your Business
Let’s look at some numbers.
A recent study from Deloitte and Paylocity found employers could save an average of about $54,709 a year by automating time management, including tasks like timecard entry, collecting, and verification, as well as submitting and responding to PTO requests and calculating PTO balances.
Automating accounts payable invoicing can cut invoice costs from $14 to $17 per manual invoice to just $3 per automated invoice, and can shave 11 days from the payment cycle, cutting it from 14 days to just 3.
It’s estimated that one-third of all sales and sales operations processes can be easily automated with today’s technology. Results from early adopters include increased customer-facing time, higher customer satisfaction, a 10 to 15 percent boost in efficiency, and a sales uplift potential of up to 10 percent.
Automation isn’t just for big business. Every business can — and, I would argue, should — put business process automation on their high-priority to-do list for 2022, if it’s not there already.
If you think smaller businesses won’t see successful returns from business process automation, guess again. Interestingly, a McKinsey & Co. Global Survey indicated that while more large companies than small companies had implemented automation in at least one business function — 41 percent compared to 26 percent — the smaller companies were experiencing a higher success rate. Smaller companies reported a 65 percent success rate while larger ones only a 55 percent success rate. The difference-maker for smaller companies, as reported, appears to be better understanding of total automation costs, as well as considering the entire organization in the scope of effort.
Still need convincing? In a 2021 Zapier study of small and medium-sized businesses, 63 percent of respondents indicated automation helped them survive the pandemic, and 88 percent indicated automation helps them compete with larger businesses through greater agility, error reduction, and improved customer support.
23 Benefits of Business Process Automation
When you look at the impressive list of benefits of business process automation, it’s easy to see why the question for C-suite leaders isn’t “Why should we do this?” it’s “Why wouldn’t we do this?” quickly followed by “How soon can we get started?”
Take a look at the benefits and identify which could have the most significant impact on your business:
- Stay Competitive
- Reduce Waste
- Save Money
- Reduce or Eliminate Errors
- Increase Speed
- Increase Productivity
- Build Volume
- Eliminate Steps
- Format Compliance
- Avoid Regulatory Penalties
- Expand Capabilities
- Contain Costs
- Prevent Fraud
- Improve Visibility
- Improve Reporting Capabilities
- Empower Informed Decision Making
- Increase Service Quality
- Enhance Customer Experience
- Boost Employee Morale
- Improve Employee Retention
- Enhance Service Delivery
- Restructure or Reduce Labor Resources
- Scale for Growth
If I had to guess, I’d guess you chose more than one benefit. Am I right?
The bottom line on business process automation is this: efficient, effective processes lead to higher profitability for your business which, in turn, provides for growth. And who among us isn’t interested in that?
Implementing Business Process Automation
Where to start? There are two ways to figure that out.
First, think about where you may need to make a change in your organization to impact outcomes. Here’s a list of options to consider:
- Processes that have a regular high volume of repetitive tasks
- Areas in which you have frequent missed deadlines caused by lengthy processes
- Areas in which delays regularly and negatively affect task hand-off and, ultimately, process completion
- Areas in which you need better visibility to empower informed decision-making
- Processes that interfere with your ability to achieve your strategic goals
- Areas in which employee satisfaction and retention need significant improvement
Second, you can also try starting with one of the core processes in every company that affect your business success:
- Order to Cash
- Purchase to Pay
- Hire to Retire
- Financial Statement Close and Reporting
I’ll take a closer look at each of these core processes in the remaining blogs in this series, sharing insights that will help you leverage business process automation to up-level your business.
To find out how Fahrenheit can help you leverage the power of business process automation to accelerate your progress and find the straightest path forward, contact us today to learn more about what our team of seasoned, C-level executives and consultants can do for you – Experts@FahrenheitAdvisors.com.
About the Author
Keith Middleton is a co-managing partner and co-founder of Fahrenheit Advisors. He oversees the firm’s consulting and fractional services, as well as risk management and operations. He is a member of Fahrenheit’s Leadership Team. A seasoned corporate finance executive, Keith’s expertise in organizational strategy and a newfound passion for entrepreneurism has helped Fahrenheit expand across multiple service lines and geographies.