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Your business relies on a set of tasks being completely efficient every day. Across departments and between different people, your business processes possess a lot of influence over your operations and outcomes.

Using automation solutions, you can maximise your business process design to make the most out of your people and processes. Here, we will uncover everything you need to know about automation and business processes.

Coming Up

1. What is a Business Process?

2. What is Business Process Management?

3. What are Business Process Related Concepts?

4. Why is a Business Process Important?

5. What is an Example of a Business Process?

6. What are the Steps for Business Process?

7. What are the Benefits of Business Process Software?

8. What are the Key Business Process Attributes?

9. Which Business Process to Improve in Finance?

10. What are the Types of Business Process?

11. Why Automate Business Processes?

12. What are Business Process Automation Examples?

13. How to Implement Process Improvement?

14. Why Continuous Improvement is Important?

15. How to Improve Business Processes in Finance?

16. Which Process Automation Tool is Best?

17. Wrap Up

What is a Business Process?

A business process is a set of activities geared towards accomplishing an organisational goal. When designed properly, they should be able to be carried out ad infinitum, while maintaining consistent outcomes.

Someone is assigned responsibility for each task within a business process. Across organisations of all sizes, business processes are what are used to transform inputs to outputs and add value to customers and stakeholders.

Business processes are important to your business for many reasons, including:

  • Achieving efficiency
  • Reducing errors and chaos within daily operations
  • Standardising procedures
  • Defining approval processes and ensuring accountability
  • Streamlining communication across and between departments
  • Designing tasks that align with overall business goals

What is Business Process Management?

Business process management (BPM) is a practice by which organisations can improve their business processes. Instead of letting processes run without review, business process management analyses and monitors current processes to spot regions in which business process improvement can be applied.

BPM takes place systematically and is geared towards achieving organisational goals.

What are Business Process Related Concepts?

When designing, analysing, optimising, or monitoring business processes, there are many other terms, procedures, and notions that come into play.

Let’s take a look at some concepts that are related to business processes.

Business process automation:

Business process automation is what tools like SolveXia are known for! Business process automation means that you can incorporate automation tools to manage your day-to-day tasks.

Instead of requiring a human to conduct manual and repetitive tasks, the software leverages robotic process automation and machine learning to take care of manual tasks and boost analytical abilities.

This means that your organisation benefits from: saving time, reducing errors, saving money, and streamlining activities.

Business process modelling:

Business process modelling, or process modelling, is the act of illustrating and visualising processes during business process management. It can either be completed manually or by way of a software solution.

Process modelling helps to see how current processes are running in order to become aware of how or where processes can be made better.

Business process improvement:

Business process improvement (BPI) is a way of evaluating current processes in order to make them more efficient. Depending on your organisation’s desires, you can choose from a variety of business process improvement methodologies by which you can assess and redesign processes for the better.

BPI helps to lessen waste, improve output quality, work faster, and reduce mistakes.

Business process integration:

Business process integration offers a way for organisations to connect systems and information to optimise workflows.

For example, implementing an automation tool like SolveXia into your organisation means that you can connect and centralise data from legacy systems and your existing toolstack so that all the information you need is at your fingertips in an instant.

Business process analysis:

Business process analysis is how organisations review their processes and develop solutions to make them better. This ranges from change management to process improvement, policy development, strategic planning, and the like.

Why is a Business Process Important?

Business processes might seem like unnecessary documentation at the start, but once you see how managing your business processes will transform your business, you’ll never operate without them again.

With business processes clearly defined and executed, you will realise:

  • Better performance: Everyone is aware of what they are responsible for managing. This makes it easier to allocate resources and assign tasks to members who specialise in each duty.
  • Operational efficiency: You can reduce risks by automating processes which save both time and money.
  • Increased satisfaction: With any workflow process in order, tasks become streamlined, thereby reducing bottlenecks and key person dependencies. This translates into happy customers, satisfied employees, and stress-free stakeholders.

What is an Example of a Business Process?

Every business consists of processes. Whether you’ve clearly mapped them out, automated them, or conducted them manually, they are all around. From customer onboarding to recruiting, strategy, procurement, and more, business processes exist in each department.

Here, we will share the example of a finance business process that is regulated and of high importance, namely account reconciliation.

Account reconciliation entails comparing internal financial documents to external financial statements to see that they match and are in accordance. It’s a paramount process for the production of accurate financial statements.

Due to the repetitive nature of the process, amount of data involved, and timeliness, automation software like SolveXia is perfectly suited for this type of job.

What are the Steps for Business Process?

If you think that designing, analysing, and monitoring a business process has to be complicated, think again. The good news is that there exist 7 clearly defined steps that can be followed to create any business process. These include:

  1. Define Goals: Answer questions like: Why is the process necessary? How will success be measured? What’s the goal?
  1. Map the Process: Create a roadmap for how the process will run. You can use business process modelling here.
  1. Assign Responsibility: Based on each task, assign responsibility or develop the process in an automation solution.
  1. Perform a Test: Before you release the process across the organisation, run a small test to ensure that there are no gaps or mistakes occurring.
  1. Implement the Process: Once the process passes the test, you can implement it in its live environment. Be sure to notify and communicate how it will work to everyone involved, including all stakeholders.
  1. Monitor the Outcomes: Review the results of the process and record the history. If you automate the process, then the software solution will maintain records of everything that has occured, including all data that was used.
  1. Repeat: Continue running the process and monitoring in the event an update or improvement can be made.

What are the Benefits of Business Process Software?

Any business environment is dynamic and constantly changing. This means that if you have the ability to remain agile and adjust processes on a moment’s notice, you can maintain an immense competitive advantage.

Business process software allows you to test, design, implement, and execute business processes with minimal effort. Business process software can be used to achieve affordable and intuitive solutions for most business processes.

Automation software like SolveXia will:

  • Reduce key person dependencies: It’s inevitable for your employees to be out of office for one reason or another. However, if one person performs a highly specialized task as part of a business process, you can’t sit idly by when they are unavailable. The show must go on, and with automation, it always will because the process is programmed into the system to run (no matter who is around).
  • Minimise errors: Many processes depend on immense attention to detail to complete, especially those within finance departments. Automation solutions will reduce human errors...automatically (and immediately).
  • Lower costs: Errors, missed tasks, and poor time management can translate into costly outcomes. With automation, your processes run smoothly and efficiently every time, thereby lowering costs.
  • Connect data: Data grows exponentially every second. With a software solution, you can rest assured knowing that all your data exists in a centralised and accessible location.
  • Provide analytics: Software solutions can run complex analytics so that you can always review business processes in real-time.
  • Maximise compliance: With all data and processes stored and recorded within the system, your organisation can remain compliant to any and all regulations.

What are the Key Business Process Attributes?

While business processes are everywhere, there are some identifiable characteristics that business processes possess.

The ideal business process (and also one that is ripe for automation) is:

  • Finite: It has a clear starting point and end point. In between, there is a finite number of steps.
  • Adds value: The point of a business process is to add value. Every step within the process should be of value and have a purpose. There’s no step that occurs just for the sake of existing.
  • Flexible: The best business processes are clearly defined, but they are not rigid. If there’s an opportunity for improvement, the business process is flexible and adaptive.
  • Repeatable: Business processes can take place indefinitely.

Which Business Process to Improve in Finance?

At the heart of every business sits the finance team. The processes that take place in regard to finance will affect every aspect of business. For this reason, it’s always a great place to focus your automation and process improvement efforts.

Budget

You’ll rely on both historical data and forecasts in order to budget successfully for your business. You can utilise automation to do so and ensure that your estimations are staying in line with reality.

Annual Returns

Wherever your business operates, you’ll create financial statements at the end of the year to close accounts and understand the health of the business. This regulated process requires that the process be performed by a deadline, so you can utilise automation to make sure this is the case.

Payroll

Every employee or freelancer deserves to be paid on time. You can automate your payroll process.

Customer Success and Operations

Other support business processes include customer success and operations, all of which have a direct impact on your bottom line. You can use automation software to carry out:

  • Customer onboarding (retention and support)
  • Customer offboarding (can use this to understand churn and prevent it in the future)
  • Account management (upselling and targeted marketing)
  • Policy reviews (compliance)
  • Strategy (business decision-making based on insights from data)

What are the Types of Business Process?

Business processes can be categorised into three main types. These include:

  • Primary (operational) business processes: Operational processes are those that create value for the customer. They are what’s required to create a product or service. They are the main aspect of the business. For example, operational processes include receiving and fulfilling customer orders.
  • Support business processes: Support processes (or secondary processes) are what make the operational processes possible. They often take place behind-the-scenes. While they don’t directly add value to the customers, they are required in order to create products or services. Without them, businesses wouldn’t function. Some examples are: HR management and finance functions like payroll.
  • Management business processes: Management business processes ensure that everything is running according to plan. They entail processes like: budgeting, strategic planning, and internal communication.

Why Automate Business Processes?

Most business leaders are aware of why they should be automating business processes. For those who are aware, but have yet to take the first step in doing so, the following points may be the push you need.

Automating business processes will transform your organisation in the most positive ways. You’ll take advantage of benefits like:

  • Gaining transparency: The mere act of defining and designing business processes means that you’ll get a good grasp on what and who is involved in each type of business process you run. You’ll need to perform this first step in order to automate processes, in which case, you will surely notice how and where you can improve.
  • Achieving digital transformation: Digital transformation is occurring all over, but to make it happen in your business, you have to start somewhere. Business process automation is a great first foray into this optimal way of operating.
  • Streamlining processes: Automation solutions offer a streamlined way to carry out tasks, including: standardisation, faster execution, and a reduction of errors.

What are Business Process Automation Examples?

No matter what industry you operate in, you can utilise business process automation. Take a look at these examples:

  • Approval management: For any process in which you need sign-off from upper management, manually conducting this type of business can lead to costly delays. Instead, you can design the approval process within an automation tool like SolveXia so that each step is carried out without human intervention.
  • Customer support: You can use business process automation software to respond to customer complaints, requests, or questions by way of training responses based on keywords. Customers benefit from immediate replies, and your team benefits from free time to spend on other tasks.
  • Account management: Once you have gained customers, it’s in your best interest to retain them. Through automation, you can designate consistent touchpoints to market or upsell to existing customers.

How to Implement Process Improvement?

When automating business processes, business process improvement becomes a no brainer. You can implement process improvement by following these surefire steps:

1. Define

From both a business perspective and customer perspective, define the opportunity for improvement. You’ll begin by acknowledging that something isn’t working as well as it could be. Examples could include: production, delivery times, service quality, billing cycles, etc.

2. Measure

In order to quantify and analyse whether or not your updated process is successful or not, you can focus on two forms of measurement, namely:

  • Effectiveness: A focus on quality. You can use data and reports to review (i.e.: customer feedback, complaints, etc.)
  • Efficiency: How much time does it take to fulfill a task? Pay attention to the quantity of inputs and outputs as you’d ideally minimise inputs while maximising outputs.

3. Analyse

Automation solutions are key in the analysis process for multiple reasons. For starters, in order to successfully conduct analysis, you need to make sure you have complete and accurate data. Once you have this, you can conduct analysis to locate inefficiencies and then define solutions.

4. Improve

In order to find the best solutions, involve your team and those closest to the issue. Redesign the process collectively and test it out on a small scale before shifting entirely.

5. Control

A major aspect of process improvement is the continuous aspect of maintaining control through measurement. Review the new process to ensure it’s running as intended and reaping the desired results. You can utilise benchmarks, reports, and analytics to review.

Why Continuous Improvement is Important?

Once you’ve performed process improvement and reaped the positive results, the job isn’t over. Now, it’s time to continue on this path in what’s known as continuous process improvement.

Continuous process improvement is the ongoing process of optimising processes incrementally.

Continuous Improvement Model

In order to implement continuous process improvement, you can rely on the PDCA cycle. PDCA stands for: Plan, Do, Check, Act.

In practice this means that you will:

  1. Identify an area ripe for change
  2. Implement the change on a small scale to test out the update
  3. Check that the results are as you so desire (based on data and analytics)
  4. Push the change forward to the whole organisation.

Automation solutions make the PDCA cycle easily doable because you can test a new process within the software and choose when and how to deploy it on a larger scale once you review the results (in real-time)!

Principles for Continuous Improvement

Since continuous process improvement doesn’t have an end point, you want to be able to maintain a culture that supports constant evolution. To make this happen, you can put into effect the following best practices:

  • Start small: You don’t need to “go big or go home.” With continuous process improvement, the point is to focus on small changes over time that can result in large positive outcomes.
  • Involve your team: These changes don’t happen in isolation, so you should be sure that your employees feel empowered to identify places for improvement and voice their ideas.
  • Give ownership: Allow your team members to take control of making the changes. By using an automation solution, you can maintain transparency and ensure that data remains safe, no matter how many hands are on board.
  • Step-by-step: Processes are often intertwined. So, if you improve one process on an incremental scale, you will see a larger effect take place. Stay focused on these incremental updates.
  • Measurement matters: Never lose sight of measuring changes for impact to ensure that you are actually making a process better, rather than worse. Automation solutions provide you with the option to customise dashboard and stay up-to-date on the measurements that matter most to your goal.

How to Improve Business Processes in Finance?

Process automation benefits any type of department within an organisation. But, when it comes to finance, business process automation serves as a total game changer.

Why are Financial Processes Important?

Within the finance department or team, there are hundreds of repetitive financial processes. Financial processes not only allow you to understand the financial health of your organisation, but they also play a role in every business decision you make. As such, you need to be sure that your financial processes are being properly and accurately managed and executed.

Finance Processes to Automate

This is where automation comes in. You can streamline any financial process that you want through the implementation of automation. To give you an idea of some finance processes to automate, take a look at this list:

  • Accounts payable
  • Strategic planning
  • Inventory management
  • Employee reimbursements
  • Expense management
  • Asset management
  • Payroll
  • Financial statement preparation
  • Account reconciliations
  • Taxation

Use Cases for Finance Process Automation

Based on the abbreviated list above, let’s see a use case of finance process automation in action:

  • Travel reimbursement: It’s probably the case that your employees perform travel for business purposes. If they use their own personal credit cards, then they will be instructed to submit travel and expense reimbursements, which will have to be reviewed and approved by the finance team. Rather than having to reconcile their submission by comparing receipts, you can automate the process and ensure that employees are paid back in a timely manner.
  • Accounts payable: If you have vendors sending invoices with payment due dates, then it could potentially harm the relationship if you are constantly overdue. Instead, you can utilise automation software to handle payment requests and approve payments based on your defined criteria.

Which Process Automation Tool is Best?

When it comes to choosing the process automation tool that is best for your business, there’s a lot to consider.

Options include:

  • Low-code
  • No code
  • Coded
  • Recorded
  • Self-learning bots

Once you know what type of tool you want, you can further narrow down the options by paying attention to these criteria:

  • Ease of use
  • Security
  • Maintenance
  • Technicality
  • Scalability
  • Quick deployment
  • Cost

Automation tools like SolveXia, have human an analytical software solution that boasts all of the above and provides a low or no code solution to your automating needs. The software is scalable and easily deployed. Plus, if you ever need a hand or a question answered, the team is always available to offer support.

Wrap Up

The best type of business processes are those that are automated. No matter how big or small your business is, you can utilise the power of automation tools like SolveXia to maximise your output, minimise errors, make better decisions, and save money.

Ready to get started and reap the benefits? Book a demo with a process automation tool today.

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