ome say that in today’s disruptive business environment, whatever the question, digital transformation is the answer. Due to the global pandemic, companies around the world accelerated adoption of technology to ensure business continuity, and connectivity with the employees. Given the economic impact of global events, we can observe that entire industries are pivoting on priorities. In times of uncertainty, fundamentals come first.
Today, it once again became clear that business process automation is critical in ensuring business continuity, lowering costs, increasing margins, and reducing errors and risks. And if by now you’re not convinced, we have an extra proof of that.
Forrester Consulting, one of the leading global analyst and advisory firms, believes organizations that master automation will rise above companies who still rely on performing a majority of their tasks manually. The benefits of automating business processes are substantial. Even isolated efforts add up to improve results across the entire organization.
In June 2020, Forrester produced a commissioned study on behalf of WEBCON, that documents the benefits and financial impact of process automation with a low-code BPA (Business Process Automation) platform, The Total Economic Impact™ of WEBCON BPS (you can get a copy right here).
Forrester examined the benefits and financial impact of automating processes on the example of a company in the financial services industry, a subsidiary of a global conglomerate with more than 300,000 employees globally. The commissioned study is about more than just cold numbers; it covers industry observations, identifies evaluation criteria, includes their own body of experience and insight into past/present/future conditions.
Some of the highlights include:
So is automating business processes worth it? Let’s take a look at the list of key benefits your company could experience when automating processes, based on the Forrester study findings.
“The implementation of WEBCON BPS has enabled us to avoid spending an estimated $1.17M
in purchasing, implementing and maintaining alternative ready-to-use solutions in the market.”
Source: CIO, financial services, Forrester Total Economic Study Impact™ of WEBCON BPS study
Forrester gleaned a number of insights from client interviews and observations, observations that jibe nicely with what we’ve seen take place in countless organizations. Here’s a drill-down on what the payoff looks like to an organization that implements a platform for business process automation:
Business process automation speeds up repetitive and often tedious tasks, such as submitting leave requests, invoice approvals, travel & expense reimbursement, etc. With less time spent on routine “maintenance” tasks, employees can focus on more value-driven activities that move an organization forward.
It isn’t just about speeding up tasks and making them more efficient, though. With automation comes information, and with information comes the opportunity for improvement. Many times an organization starts out automating only to end up innovating in due time.
Automating a process almost always means it will complete in less time by simplifying the time it takes to perform the tasks that make up a process. Often, it can also completely automate – if not eliminate – some tasks altogether. That allows for forward jumps in efficiency.
That efficiency pays off twice, once in time/cost savings, and again by making the saved time/resources available to get more done.
Humans are prone to making mistakes, particularly when it comes to what they view as “busy work.” At best, that means increased time and money; at worst, it can ruin reputations. Managing and automating processes pay off in up to three ways: (1) tasks are automated entirely, (2) previously-manual tasks are now assisted by some automation and are assigned/monitored automatically, and (3) with less cognitive fatigue from repetitive work, users are less prone to make mistakes in non-automated work.
What can be automated, or at least automatically governed, can be measured – sometimes for the very first time. It allows for transparency, for insight, for discovery. It enables everyone from line managers to C-Suite corporate officers to see what’s going on and make decisions accordingly.
No matter the specifics, deliberate innovation requires a degree of unstructured creativity – but creativity needs the support of structured processes in order to keep the effort on track.
Launching new products often requires dedicated applications to support business processes around it. Many companies hesitate to invest in software projects until the product proves its worth and corresponding processes become stable. Such approach can easily lead to missing market opportunities.
With rapid application prototyping capabilities applications can be delivered quickly and inexpensively. What’s more important, they can be easily evolved and adapted as business requirements change. With this support, business units become more effective in launching new products and seizing emerging market opportunities.
According to research by American Express, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. Happy customers are also the loyal customers, with strong connection to the brand’s products and services. So much about succeeding at providing a happy experience involves, to paraphrase an old quote, “just showing up.” More specifically, showing up, achieving the desired outcome, doing so quickly, and not making mistakes. These things don’t happen by accident.
Emails, spreadsheets, phone calls, chats – unstructured communication can cause a lot of work to get lost, delayed, misdirected, or misunderstood. Random ad-hoc efforts to improve organizational process can result in multiple means of communication handled in multiple ways, multiple user experiences, and more. Multiple queues to check in multiple places is a lot less attractive a prospect compared to the idea of a single place for every employee to be able to know what’s being asked of them, what they can initiate, and what they need to monitor.
We all have the tendency to focus on our tasks alone, and once they are done – we’re done. For the company to work efficiently, tasks have to be orchestrated. When employees finish one task, several new ones may have to be created and assigned to their peers. End-to-end business process automation makes sure tasks are assigned according to procedures and best practices, employees are notified, and managers can track work progress.
Before diving into business process automation, it’s good to bear in mind these best practices we’ve gathered from years of working with hundreds of companies from different industries on their digital transformation journey:
1. Think big but start small: For your first automation project choose a simple process. Tackling a large and complex process on your first attempt can lead to missing deadlines, frustration, and failure. Starting small allows you to deliver a quick win, gain experience working with the software, and learn which stakeholders need to be engaged. It also gives employees a chance to get familiar with how everything works. Moreover, it generates insight as to what to do for the next effort.
2. Be agile, not fragile: Do not attempt to make it right the first time. Process automation is, well, a process. It’s not a project with a scope set in stone. It works best when IT and business work hand in hand in an iterative way. A continuous feedback loop between business needs, company’s expectations, and the application creation. Time and time again, the result of an quick initial “good enough” effort (that then undergoes regular enhancements) is far superior to the slower pursuit of one-time perfection.
3. Don’t digitize a mess: Take a moment before starting an automation effort. Think about what must happen, what the goals are, and how to achieve them. Whether you do it immediately or later, rethinking a part of, if not a whole process is inevitable. We meant what we said about being agile, but that should be balanced against making sure you’re not simply automating a process you don’t like in the first place. It’s okay for the first step of many to also reflect some initial improvement.
4. Choose your automation platform wisely: When choosing the software you’ll be using to automate processes, you’ll have happier results from a comprehensive platform that helps you build tailored-yet-standardized solutions fast and easily adapt them to evolving business needs. (Learn why it’s better to have a single solution for automating all processes in your organization, instead of maintaining multiple platforms for different processes.)
We’d like to think that the question of whether to automate processes has been settled. Now it’s time to ask how to do it right?
Over the last decade, our Low-code Process Automation Platform, WEBCON BPS have helped over 450 international companies in successful digital transformation.
Our goal is to support organizations in creating a modern workplace that improves how people work, drives insights, and helps navigate business strategy in times of constant change.
No matter if you’re looking to automate one process or hundreds of them, we’re here to help you succeed in your automation projects by providing an enterprise-grade solution, along with the support of passionate professionals with a wealth of experience in delivering business solutions for market leaders
Tell us what your business scenarios and process automation needs are – we’d love to be of help!
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