Technology has proven its worth as an asset in an organization’s daily activities. In fact, many routine tasks have become so dependent on technology that it’s safe to say a lack of technology could cause panic. However, it’s important to remember that technology can sometimes fail and not everything needs to be automated. Sometimes the solution to your problem is old “technology” – the pencil.

Business Process Automation – The Who, What, Where

The more technologies a business implements, the more complicated systems become — and operational chaos is likely to ensue. This is where business process automation (BPA) can help.

Business Process Automation is a systemized method that takes difficult, redundant or otherwise complex tasks and simplifies them into a streamlined, hands-free process. In other words, it gets the same job done using less technology. By taking the complex repetitive tasks out of the equation, your manual workforce can now focus on higher value activities, thus increasing productivity and profitability.

BPA can be used in virtually any aspect of a business. From document management and workflows, to email alerts and other repetitive tasks, BPA can help reduce costs and avoid wasted manpower in a wide range of operational areas.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Business Automation

An obvious benefit to BPA is that it can increase business output and save time – the most irrecuperable of all losses. With the use of BPA, employees can focus more on creativity and idea generation. Another advantage that BPA brings is that it can streamline through all departments, from accounts payable and HR to client management and marketing. It isn’t just about replacing paper with PDFs— the real value of business process automation aims to make processes more cost-efficient, streamlined, error-proof and transparent.

Although BPA has many advantages, it also comes with some disadvantages. One disadvantage is job uncertainty. Many fear that because BPA skips the many steps in between, positions in a company may be eliminated or there might be a decreased need to create new jobs. Another disadvantage is the loss of human touch, specifically when it comes to quality customer service.

As an example, a customer might prefer to complete transactions by using automated machines without having to speak with anyone, but gets equally frustrated with complicated multi-layer steps that these machines often require. Instead of moving forward with the process, this customer might decide to give up and patronize a different business instead because of the convenience of speaking to a real person.

When is Automation Worth It?

Processes and systems need to be automated – but automation doesn’t solve every problem. Some things can’t be automated and shouldn’t be automated, such as transactions that require social and emotional values or one-off transactions. To know if automation is worth it, organizations must first and foremost identify inefficiencies, determine which specific business process(es) needs automation and if implementing that method that would provide ROI, among other factors. In the following article, we’ll discuss issues of change management that organizations should consider when automating.