Benefits of Business Process Automation
03 Apr 2019
In light of rising labour costs around the world, organisations are turning to automation to cut costs and improve productivity. Companies today are leveraging on automation technology to drive efficiency and reduce reliance on manpower. Business process automation enables work in an organisation to be completed with minimal human intervention. Today, advancements in automation technology has unlocked a range of possibilities and benefits for modern organisations.
According to a McKinsey report in 2017 conducted on businesses across various industries, companies that excel in automation have been able to generate up to triple-digit returns on their investments. As labour costs continue to climb, improving productivity and profit margins across sectors remain at the top of management agenda. With the advent of business process automation, companies are able to unlock new value as they rethink their operational management strategies.
Robotic process automation has fuelled the growth of a digital workforce. With the help of software robots, organisations today are able to apply automation to a broad range of tasks. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have revolutionised the automation industry by giving birth to cognitive-based capabilities in automation software. With the help of intelligent robots equipped with deep-learning and problem-solving skills, organisations today are able to solve complex business challenges with greater proficiency.
In recent years, the benefits of automation has been on the rise with the discovery of new technologies. With today’s leading automation technologies, companies have access to a wide arsenal of tools available at their disposal. The ability to automate labour-intensive work and eliminate manual administrative processes promises to bring several key benefits to organisations.
Lowering costs with a digital workforce
Business process automation provides companies with the ability to reduce manpower and administrative costs. An article published by CIO in 2018 cites the example of a bank which reduced its staffing cost by 70% through the diversification of administrative processes to software bots. By redefining the concept of labour, businesses can reduce employee requirements as they shift focus towards a robotic workforce. By automating low-value tasks, organisations today are able to minimise head counts and free up costly manpower expenditure.
In addition to reducing future manpower requirements, business process automation can also augment an organisation’s existing productivity levels by diminishing the time taken for a worker to complete routine tasks. By leveraging on software bots and similar automation tools, workers can speed up various parts of their workflow. For example in carrying out administrative work, employees can rely on drag and drop functionality provided by automation tools to avoid manually reviewing large batches of documents. With the help of automation tools, employees will be able to complete tasks at a faster rate, reducing the number of man-hours required and consequent operating costs incurred.
Unlocking new value with better resource allocation
Beyond cost savings, automation helps speed up an organisation’s processes and free up workers’ time. Automation helps workers complete tasks at an accelerated rate, enabling employees to focus their time on higher value work. With automated workflows, organisations can divert newly freed up manpower to other value-adding areas of the business. As an organisation’s activities evolve towards more advanced work, companies will be able to create higher value goods and services for its customers.
By embracing automation, organisations are able to channel manpower and administrative resources to more performant business activities. Improved resource allocation and utilisation driven by automation has allowed companies to achieve a higher level of productivity, resulting in the increase of quality and quantity of goods and services it produces. The enhanced work efficiency derived from automation has enabled companies to move up the value chain as they create higher quality goods and services for their consumers.
Quality assurance in a next generation operating model
Business process automation provides organisations with the ability to perform mundane repetitive tasks at high and consistent levels of quality. Integrating automation into production workflows can help companies gain greater control over product or service quality as automation enables businesses to systemise their operations and eliminate the reliance on human operators.
Through the deployment of automation tools at keys areas of the production chain, companies can synergise processes across functions and create a systemised workflow in which work can be reliably completed upon. With the use of business automation software in operations, companies can gather and process more significant amounts of data relating to the relevant business processes. Understanding the complete picture of an organisation’s entire operational workflow enables companies to make the best decisions with regards to their operational strategies. With an automated system of business procedures in place, companies can easily monitor and update operational strategies, ensuring consistent and high-quality outputs.
By replacing the human element in an organisation’s operational workflow, companies will be able to eliminate issues such as worker fatigue and avoid the risk of human errors. For instance, by automating menial tasks such as data entry in compliance and administrative work, companies will be able to minimise error rates and improve operational efficiency. In an automated operational workflow, companies would have its required administrative data captured online, easily transferable across business units for analysis and processing. In sectors such as compliance or accounting, eliminating the need for manual data entry can help companies avoid incurring hefty regulation-related penalties caused by man-made errors. Through the implementation of automation technology, companies can ensure quality assurance and consistency across operations.
Business process automation brings significant benefits to the enterprise. Fuelled by a revolution in automation technology, more companies today are turning to automation to eliminate repetitive, low-value tasks. By doing so, companies stand to gain several key benefits in various aspects of their business. Reduction of costs, better capitalisation of labour, and improvements in quality are some of the benefits that business process automation offers. Organisations that succeed in transforming their operations via automation will be able to revitalise their workforce and drive greater value for themselves and society at large.
Joel Koh is the director of One X Tech's Technology Management & Digital Solutions practice. He leads the firm's Asia Pacific office efforts in continually evolving and growing new capabilities to serve clients in technology-led transformations.