Business Process Automation or BPA for short. This was a buzzword a few years back with anyone and everyone claiming they were experts in this area. Maybe so. But to really realize its true potential you need to understand what business process automation is and why you will need it?
If you own/run/manage a business, take a look around yourself at the daily activities you perform to run your business effectively and efficiently. If you do observe closely, you will quickly notice that you (or your staff) do perform a lot of tasks that are generally repetitive in nature or they may be administrative tasks; tasks that you have to perform and are necessary to run your business.
Let me elaborate that with an example. A customer calls and enquires about a product you market. You tell the customer you will send a product brochure. You take all relevant information like prospect name, address etc. and walk over to your secretary. Your secretary takes the information, chooses the appropriate brochure, creates a covering letter, puts it in an envelope and mails it to your customer. Sounds familiar, right?
Well, what if I told you that process automation automates the entire process above using the Internet? And all with zero involvement from you? Or anyone else from your organization? Would that be cool? Let me help you visualize it.
Your prospect comes over to your web site, browses and is now seeking more information on a specific product. You have the prospect fill in all relevant information from within your web site. When the prospect submits the information, your web site will automatically save the information electronically in a database and send a personalized email to your prospect (i.e. thanking him/her for the enquiry and providing instructions to download the brochure). Your system can also follow up automatically after a few days with that specific prospect asking if they have any other questions or if you could be of any help.
This is, in essence, business process automation. You are automating the different business processes within your business. The beauty of automating this is the zero-involvement from your business. Let’s take this a step further. If the prospect does decide to buy the specific product, they can purchase it directly from your web site (via a shopping cart). Your web site will already know what your prospect had received so you can “speed up” the process by simply collecting payment information over a secure line, process the transaction and then send new shipping details to your customer. The prospects details now go into the customer database (because you have converted a prospect into a customer). The order details automatically get sent to your order-processing department for order fulfillment. When the order is shipped, your order-processing department updates the “system” with ETA for the product. Your customer can now automatically track the status of their order. And you can actually get an overview of how many orders were received, shipped, transacted; all through a browser. Even if you were holidaying and were miles away from home/office.
Can you think of all the costs you have saved by automating routine, mundane tasks that have typically needed human intervention in the past?
That, in essence, is the power of automation.