What Is Process Automation?
Process automation is the use of software to automate repeated and predictable tasks to reduce human effort, increase productivity and efficiency within the business, and drive value realization. The types of process automation include process mining and workflow automation.
Process automation or business process automation is defined as technologies that help optimize existing business processes by reducing effort, costs, and/or errors by reducing the need for human employees to intervene.
Organizations apply process automation as part of their digital transformation strategy to streamline workflows and operate more efficiently. However, to gain the benefits of business process automation, processes must be assessed through multiple lenses with the help of process mining and task mining technologies. Any inefficiencies in the process negatively impacts business outcomes and customer experience. Hence, process automation has proven to be a crucial enabler for modern businesses.
Learn More: What is Process Mining?
Understanding Process Automation
Automation can be defined as a set of tools, technologies, and techniques that reduce human effort in any sphere of our lives – i.e., anything that completes tasks automatically. A simple process automation example that all of us have encountered is the use of automated bill payments. Every month, you can choose to get the utility bill automatically deducted from the account at a scheduled date.
This saves the cognitive effort of remembering the scheduled date and the physical effort of navigating online systems or visiting a bill payment kiosk.
Similarly, for businesses, process automation saves both cognitive and physical effort for employees and the organization. This translates into massive cost savings through lesser work hours, fewer errors, and a lower headcount. According to Gartner, business process automation can save finance departments up to 25,000 hours of avoidable rework annually.
But let’s first define what we mean by a process: A process is a set of tasks that help you achieve predefined business goals by involving a predefined set of stakeholders.
This brings us to the following question – how does process automation work?
How Does Process Automation Work?
Business process automation optimization focuses on improving processes by identifying areas where reengineering of tasks is necessary to avoid manual effort. In addition, process automation is increasingly gaining prominence for its capability to reduce repetitive tasks, enabling the workforce to focus on business goals and improve the overall process by reducing downtime, minimizing human errors, and saving costs.
For instance, by automating invoice processing from receipt to payment in finance and accounting, organizations can speed deployment and rapid value realization with fewer resources.
Process Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Key Differences
The key difference between process automation and RPA is that RPA is a type and subset of process automation. Different organizations may use various techniques to automate processes, as previously explained, and RPA is just one of them.
The benefit of RPA is that it mimics our behavior and uses bots to automate repeatable tasks. RPA can work across systems, and unlike traditional process automation, RPA can be integrated into existing platforms without massive overhaul or disruption.
Process Automation Examples
Today, there are process automation examples in every line of business. Let us discuss a few examples, both with and without RPA.
The first notable example is email automation. This marketing automation tool helps send targeted content to a predefined list of leads, customers, or prospects based on programmable criteria like a campaign schedule, recipient preferences, personalization, website updates, etc. No RPA bot is involved, and it works through standalone email automation software.
The following example is invoicing process automation. Processing invoices occupy a vast amount of human effort in big companies, and most tasks are repetitive and voluminous. A company can deploy robotic process automation bots to simplify invoice processing tasks or the end-to-end workflow from receipt to payment.
Getting Started with Process Automation Solutions
The first step towards process automation isn’t picking out the best process automation software but identifying what to automate – i.e., the most inefficient processes or, more specifically, the tasks within those processes taking up the most time and effort. The key reason preventing companies from realizing ROI on automation is the poor identification of use cases. Hence, process discovery is key to providing automation opportunities and benefits.
Through process discovery and assessment, organizations can identify areas where inefficiencies and variations occur within the process. These insights are the basis for deploying RPA bots or standalone process automation software. Or, if you use an advanced task mining and process discovery tool like Soroco’s Scout, you can autogenerate code.
In summary, process automation signals a whole new way of conducting business operations with fewer inefficiencies, thus paving the way for reducing costs, improving workforce productivity, and enhancing customer experience.
Today, more than 60% of the workday is spent on unstructured interactions in documents, emails, communications, custom applications, websites – outside of ERP, CRM, and other systems of record.
Organizations can unlock this data source for multiple opportunities such as building a map of how their teams get work done, including variations in the last mile, and building a data-based digital transformation program with multiple levers such as automation, targeted user-training, streamlining unnecessary variations of work.
At Soroco, we have created a new category of enterprise software that relies on this previously untapped data source — human-computer interactions emanating from daily work. Soroco’s Scout, powered by the world’s first work graph platform, focuses on enterprise-scale needs serving 1000s of users in each customer. With its privacy-aware data collection with zero IT integration, Scout captures millions of interactions without requiring any changes to your applications. While protecting end-user privacy, flexible PII filtering, and being aligned to GDPR compliance.
To get started with Scout, click here