What is Business Process Automation (BPA) software?
Business process automation (BPA) software is the group of tools to execute repetitive activities in businesses where human force can be substituted. Companies apply this solution to cut their costs, increase performance, and streamline processes. Wikipedia states that BPA software can streamline a business for simplicity, achieve digital transformation, increase service quality, improve service delivery, or contain costs. It consists of integrating applications, restructuring labor resources, and using software applications throughout the organization. Robotic process automation (RPA) is an emerging field within BPA which relies on bots that use UI intended for human use to automate repetitive activities. While BPA software typically builds automations that are completely integrated to the software being automated, RPA bots act like humans, using screen scraping and machine vision to manipulate software
How to implement a BPA solution?
The implementation process of BPA software can be categorized as:
- Analysis: Process mining, interviews and other analysis can be carried out to identify high priority processes to automate. Then, automation projects can be identified in line with the company's strategy.
- Solution selection:Depending on business requirements, a suitable BPA can be selected.
- Implementation: While businesses set up their BPA solutions, they also extend their current IT systems with specialized plugins and add-ons, if necessary. At this step, every function should be documented to confirm that software is configured correctly. Companies also introduce administrator training and user-acceptance tests to assess the viability of the solution.
- Integration: Businesses perform API integration to allow new programs to connect and interact with other existing programs. They also implement the enterprise service bus (ESB) in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) for issueless communication between software applications.
- Maintenance and Support: Lastly, the bottlenecks are identified to improve BPA performance. Businesses continuously update their system versions as they are available. They should also take advantage of technical support if any problem occurs.
You can also check our in-depth guide for RPA implementation
Which processes can businesses automate?
Automation can save a lot of money, but you might think of which processes to start with. McKinsey reports that nearly half of all company processes can be automated. First, you should look at the strategic and organizational factors for improvement. Then, look for suitable processes. The main drivers that can indicate the need for automation are listed below:
- High-volume of tasks
- Multiple people required to execute tasks
- Time-sensitive nature
- Significant impact on other processes and systems
- Need for compliance and audit trails. This is an optional benefit of RPA bots, not all processes to be automated may need audit trails.
If the process fits all the factors mentioned above, you should automate that process. For a better understanding, here are some examples:
What are the main benefits of BPA software?
Most industry analysts, including Forrester highlight the important of automation. Here are the main benefits of implementing BPA software:
- Reduced costs and paperwork
- Decreased manual errors
- Faster and continuous processes
- Standardized processes
- Easier and faster auditing and analysis
- Improved customer satisfaction, which increases business competitiveness
You can read our RPA benefits guide to gain more insights.
What are some examples of BPA use cases?
Here are three examples of BPA use cases for a better understanding:
- Purchase order processing: BPA tools can help improve accountability, transparency, and enable accurate recording of data that can be accessed by related business managers when necessary. With BPA, this process can prevent delayed PO approvals, impacted productivity, incomplete records, and errors in the PO. For example, Sapin, a can manufacturing company, states that they have accelerated their purchase order processing by 75% by automating the process.
- Hiring and Employee onboarding: BPA ensures seamless transitions from one task to another, keeping relevant workers in the loop and providing transparency to the status of the process. As a result, HR departments can avoid endless paperwork, employee dissatisfaction, and lower productivity. Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency indicates that they can reduce hiring approval time by 80% by implementing BPA into their processes.
- Automating workflows: BPA software can keep track of all the operations. It allows to digitization workflows and automates the entire logistical part of a process. When an employee completes a task, the system can automatically notify the next person within the workflow that they have a new task. This makes operations management much simpler and more efficient.
You can find more use cases in our RPA use cases guide.
Which industries benefit from BPA software?
Although every industry has different BPA needs, BPA has the potential to improve every industry. Examples include retail, manufacturing, banking, telecommunication, transportation, education, and healthcare. Below are some examples of how different industries can benefit from BPA:
- Banking: The banking industry needs to focus on payment management, automating payment and money transfers, integrating ABS and card systems with other electronic banking systems, and managing budgets, along with the implementation of front and back-office operations.
- Trading and manufacturing: This industry allows BPA to automate production processes, CRM, ESB and ERP systems, warehouse and procurement operations, and paper flow management.
- Telecommunication: This industry collaborates with BPA to simplify its office processes, customer care, payment systems, databases, document and workflow management systems, and technical support.
- Healthcare: Healthcare is concerned with quality and risk management. This industry seeks good practices of record management, electronic signatures, and project management.
What are the best practices for BPA tools?
These best practices can be helpful for your business while implementing your BPA solution:
- Begin with a clear understanding of what tasks are involved, who is responsible, and when what task needs to be carried out.
- Ensure that the goals are clearly identified.
- Measure outcomes using a phased approach. Many companies are disappointed when the results don't materialize overnight.
- Spare enough time for employee training.
- Adopt a long-term expectation to get better results in terms of ROI.
- Use prebuilt solutions where available.
Best practices for automation (e.g. for RPA and BPA) are quite similar, we also recommend you to look at our RPA best practices guide.