As helpful as BPA can be, however, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is up to individual companies to analyse which of their processes are suited to automation, and which ones are better managed by humans. So, what is the best way for companies to decide which business processes to automate?
There is a plethora of manual tasks suitable for automation: Manufacturing work; project management tasks; software updates; security monitoring; email responses; data backups; process flows; inventory management; accounts management… if these tasks in your company were to be automated, they could be done to a consistent standard and with greatly reduced human errors. This would free up your staff to instead do work requiring further critical thinking.
Automation can help streamline difficult and lengthy decision-making tasks. A good example of this is a lender looking to evaluate a customer’s eligibility for a loan. With an automated evaluation process, the lender would only need to input a customer’s key data into loan approval software to receive an instantaneous response, thus skipping any lengthy manual analyses. Not only does this satisfy the customer, it leaves no room for subjective bias or human error on the part of the lender.
This same instantaneous evaluation can be applied to the area of security analysis. Companies can automate security monitoring of their transactions to detect potentially suspicious fraudulent behaviour. This automated detection process itself can help employees make confident and rapid security decisions – factors that could prove crucial in protecting a company’s data or transactions.
Internet of Things (IoT) technology such as networked monitoring and sensors can help companies achieve end-to-end visibility of external business processes that would otherwise be difficult to oversee. As an example, companies dealing in cargo transportation can use networked sensors to enable operations monitoring and optimisation. Sensors can track environmental conditions such as humidity and temperature, as well as the locations of all cargo for better transparency, enhanced efficiency, and tighter security.
Building a self-service portal for employees and customers alike allow them to access their accounts anywhere, anytime. This can free up HR or customer service personnel who would otherwise be required to field requests and calls.
Manual tasks with high risk of injury can be automated, in turn providing less human error in these tasks, and better job quality for all employees involved. Technology involved in automating these tasks include unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and robots specialising in performing and monitoring specific tasks. The manual tasks themselves can range from entering dangerous environments to performing repetitive motions day after day.
Back office operations that require around-the-clock monitoring can be automated in most companies. Similar to processes outside of a business’ sight, situations requiring urgent human intervention can be addressed via instant alerts to the appropriate staff.
Automated database searches making use of big data analytics offer rich insights in areas such as crime records, legal case law, life sciences research, weather and climate research, insurance and financial risk analysis databases, manufacturing and engineering cross references, and healthcare records.
Last but not least, business processes requiring mass processing of electronic requests, signatures, approvals, archiving, and orders can be automated into an end-to-end and paperless workflow.
Read the next instalment of the Business Automation series: How to know when Business Process Automation won’t work, Part 2.