Companies are always looking for ways to improve their processes, increase operating efficiencies, and ways to cut costs. Many know they need to automate business processes but how do they choose which are good candidates? Today many companies struggle with capital budgets and resource constraints and put off automation projects because they “don’t have time”, “it is not a priority”, or there are just too many other projects.
There are a few areas that I believe a company could focus on to help narrow the list of candidates for BPA projects.
- Frequency – Processes where you see a great deal of volume. These are good areas to focus on because a majority of the work flows through that area. This is typically an area where you can see a great ROI just due to the sheer volume if you can automate.
- Repeatable – Are there processes that are the same cycle after cycle? These would be processes where a user is taking the same steps each time on a piece of work. These tend to be good BPA candidates because there is little variation and can be simpler to automate. These areas would be for quick hit or proof of concept types of projects.
- Accuracy – Are there departments where accuracy is critical to the organizations success? Automating in these areas helps mitigate risk by limiting the human error issues. This can save costs due to reducing compliance fines, or accounting “adjustments” due to un-necessary user errors.
- Cycle Times – Departments where there are tight cycle times due to compliance or customer demands can yield great automation results. Looking to automate in these areas can help decrease cycle times to bring a better customer experience or reduce costs associated with compliance fines for missing deadlines.
- Compliance – In highly regulated industries like insurance, pharmaceutical, financial institutions and utilities, compliance is always a priority. There can be serious fines for processing work incorrectly or missing deadlines. These could be areas where automation could create high returns due to the nature of the business.
- Evil E’s – Email and Excel are great tools but businesses have relied on them too heavily and use them in ways they were never really intended. Email is not a work flow tool but many companies use it to move work. Excel is not intended to be used as a reporting database. These “cost-effective” tools still require lots of manual intervention, increasing cycle time and create even more opportunity for human error which can result in greater costs in the long run. Work areas that rely on the “evil e’s” are going to good be candidates for automation. Automation will allow for work prioritization, reduction in errors, and better real time views into a process.
These are just a few of the areas that I have seen great returns on BPA projects. There are many more and I would like to hear your experiences of areas that were automated and how you selected the areas to automate.