Does your company spend a lot of time on boring, repetitive tasks? Do you wish you had more time to work on valuable projects? Then process automation might be just what you need!

In this blog post, we’re going to explain what process automation is, how it works and how you can get started automating processes, both big and small. Enjoy!

What is business process automation?

Business process automation is when you automate all or part of a business process.

Processes usually start with a trigger of some kind: say, for example, receiving a new order from a customer. From there, you probably have a set process you follow to complete the order:

  • send new order to the order fulfillment department
  • check inventory to see if the item’s in stock
  • pick the order items from inventory
  • pack the order
  • ship the order
  • receive payment for the order
  • mark the order as completed

This is a very simple example: your own processes are probably a lot more complicated than this, with many variables and decisions. But even in a simple example like the one above, you have many options for automation. Here are just a few ideas:

  • automatically send the order on to the order fulfillment department (instead of manually emailing them)
  • automatically check and assign order items from inventory
  • automatically re-order inventory items when they get low

…and so on. Even in a simple process, there are dozens of options for automation. The key is choosing which options will save you the most time, money and stress. 

Why automate processes and workflows?

Automating simple, repetitive (or otherwise boring) tasks gives your employees more time to spend on more complex, interesting tasks: solving problems, making decisions, closing sales and so on. In other words, business process automation can lead to:

  • More employee value – When your employees spend less time on boring, repetitive tasks—and focus more time on work that creates value—your business makes more money.
  • Higher employee satisfaction – When your employees can focus more time and energy on interesting work (and less time on menial, repetitive tasks), they feel more satisfaction with their work.
  • Less human error – One of the biggest causes of bad data is human error. If you want the cleanest data possible, try to take humans out of the data entry process as much as you can. 

How do you automate tasks and processes?

There are many ways to automate tasks and processes. Choosing what to automate depends on your processes and technology. So, the “how” depends on the program you’re using: some programs rely on coding, while others, like Novacura Flow, use a visual interface which makes it easier to build and update automated processes.

Tips for automating processes

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. – Bill Gates

With this in mind, the number one tip for automating processes is this: start small. Start with simple, easy-to-manage tasks and go from there. The more complicated you make your automated processes, the more chance there is for error. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to automate complicated processes: just that you should start small, get used to automation, and build from there.

Other tips for automating processes:

  • Make sure you fully understand the process you’re automating. You need to know the “what”, but also the “why”. Context matters, and trying to automate something you don’t fully understand can lead to issues you didn’t anticipate.
  • Test everything, even if you don’t think you need to.
  • Keep track of how much time automation saves your department and your company. To do this, you need to take stock of how much time your employees spend on tasks both before and after automation.

Automating tasks and processes can help your business be more productive and efficient. But it’s important to start small, and understand how your processes work, before you dive head-first into automation.