When companies grow and diversify, they frequently find themselves facing a good, yet frustrating problem: their success has created the need to simplify core processes so people can focus on more specialized work. While the assembly line has been the solution for traditional companies, new-school businesses need to look to digital process automation (DPA) for their salvation.
In this article, we will provide the following:
- A solid definition of DPA
- The benefits of DPA
- Steps you can take to prepare your company for DPA
While DPA isn’t the answer for every business, understanding how it works will assist you in making the case to your leadership that the technology is worth the investment.
Digital Process Automation: A Definition
While the idea of automation is certainly nothing new, companies have mostly used programs and software to automate specific, singular functions. Entire flotillas of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) programs were developed over the past decade to help businesses streamline highly specific processes. People really do want and need such services, but they also need help coordinating them. This is the problem that DPA seeks to solve.
Digital process automation is the full-scale, comprehensive organization of a company’s entire automation efforts into a singular process that can be managed holistically. It reviews your current business process management and business process automation efforts and unifies them into a coherent whole.
Thus, even with the adoption of top-flight DPA software, the end result will be different for each company because what gets streamlined is unique to their needs.
What is Business Process Management?
A concept that predates digital automation, business process management (BPM) consists of any concentrated effort to streamline a company’s workflows into a coherent system. The goal is to create a clearly defined series of actions that should be replicated each and every time the work is done so it’s accomplished with minimal input and maximum output.
What is Business Process Automation?
BPM led to business process automation (BPA) by introducing the automation aspect. The term reflects exactly what happens: if you have a business process that can be automated, then do it. The goal is to remove human error out of the equation by installing a relevant program that can do the work with increased effectiveness.
BPM and BPA were excellent developments because the effective management and automation of essential functions lowers costs and improves efficiency. Businesses should use digital solutions to solve digital problems, but they also need help administering all of the individual programs.
In other words, you should automate every process you can, but you should also pay specific attention to how all of those processes work together.
Digital process automation achieves this by applying artificial intelligence that focuses upon the end-user (i.e. your customers). BPA and BPM were designed to address internal needs regarding how a process would get completed and efficiency maximized.
The ultimate goal of DPA can be reduced to a single question: “How can we optimize all of our digital efforts to help our customers?”
What are the Benefits of Digital Process Automation?
If we take our claims about the customer-centric nature of DPA at face value, the benefits are immediately apparent. A singular, overarching process that’s outcomes-focused and outward-facing will reap great rewards for your company.
Any project manager will tell you they need both a high-level and in-the-weeds view of what goes into a project in order for them to achieve success. While BPA guarantees that certain key tasks will be completed efficiently, DPA ensures that those tasks are working together toward the big-picture goals.
Nothing scares potential customers away from your products and services like a disjointed buying process on your website or mobile app. People expect a seamless experience, so when the various elements you’ve assembled through different SaaS companies don’t work together, you’re actively chasing away sales. DPA ensures everything communicates properly so visitors convert to customers.
The concept of creating custom content for your customers has been a hallmark of BPA since it was introduced. However, just because you can magically insert someone’s first name on an email because you created a decent database doesn’t mean that customer really feels. DPA gives you the ability to unify all of your messaging so that it comes across as authentic and valuable.
If you’ve ever landed a new job, you understand how annoying it can be to spend your first few days attending random training seminars while also filling out assorted paperwork. By creating a single, streamlined process that is focused on user experience, new employees will get onboarded quickly and actually be prepared for their work.
As a followup to the onboarding process, giving your people a way to do their jobs and access essential information in a streamlined fashion is essential. When you have a different service for every single employee function without any rhyme or reason, you’re actively making your employees work harder. Automation is supposed to help people, not slow them down because each automated step has no relation to the next one.
How Can I Prepare My Business for Digital Process Automation?
Integrating business process management and business process automation to become digital process automation creates an overarching hub that coordinates all of the individual tasks you’ve automated. However, for DPA to truly take hold in your business so you achieve maximum efficiency, you should first take these three steps.
You should digitally automate anything and everything you can. This includes reports, data accumulation, communication, sales, and more. You can’t unify your automated business processes if nothing is automated. This doesn’t mean throwing money to every relevant SaaS representative who contacts you, because that will get you into trouble. You must develop a method so you don’t descend into madness.
Business Process Manager
That’s where a business process manager enters the picture. The counterpart to your project manager, this person is responsible for ensuring that DPA is enacted securely and preserved when a new process is added to the mix. This person should have experience working with software at a granular level, but they should also be comfortable with company-wide implementation, integration, and communication.
You might sell bespoke widgets that are handcrafted one at a time, but you need to digitize how people can purchase those widgets. You don’t have to become an e-commerce superstar overnight, but you should create a way for people to purchase your goods and/or services in the digital realm. This provides a direct path from automating basic business processes to fully automating everything about your company.
Digital Process Automation is the Future
More accurately, it’s the present. If you have more than one SaaS product helping out your company automate different business processes, then you need to investigate if and how you can introduce digital process automation to your company. The sooner you can invest in artificial intelligence to coordinate how your internal digital processes work together to improve your external rate of success, the better chance you’ll have of increased business success.
Remember: BPA and BPM help your company, but DPA helps your company help your customers. After all, aren’t your customers the most important part of your business?