Business Process Automation
Why implementation is no longer optional
What is Business Process Automation?
In a nutshell, Business Process Automation (BPA), sometimes referred to as Information Technology Process Automation (ITPA), is the process of automating recurring and repetitive tasks through the use of software and web applications.
When asked about "automation", many people first think of robotics or other industrial applications. However, the focus of BPA is to automate business workflows and processes. BPA accelerates how work gets done and is the lifeblood of any efficient organization successfully competing in the modern world. It can eliminate redundancy, streamline processes, prevent errors, minimize operating costs, and save enormous amounts of time.
What is an example of Business Process Automation?
We built a freight management system for a third party logistics company that is a middleman between trucking companies and shippers of truckload goods. Despite moving tons of freight, they had cash-flow problems because they were unable to invoice customers until after shipments were delivered. In the trucking business, when goods are received, they are signed for on a bill of lading or proof of delivery. In the world of truckload freight, signing remains largely pen and paper to this day.
Once a shipment is accepted and delivered, the paperwork has to make its way back to the trucking office, where it's eventually processed for billing to the third party (our client), who can only then bill their customer. That customer would then take 30 to 45 days to pay the bill, most often with a paper check sent in the mail.
This multi-month delay in payment was untenable; our client knew they had to get in front of this negative cash flow problem. So when tasked with a solution, we developed a system that would chat with the driver throughout the entire route, and prompt them for information at key checkpoints. Upon delivery, the receiver could sign an electronic delivery receipt on the driver's mobile device, or the receiver could scan a QR code and sign on their own device.
In addition to collecting instant delivery receipts, we were also able to collect other important information, like driver location, estimate vs actual arrival times, waiting time and driver detention, damage notations of delivered goods, and other valuable insights, which in turn improved a host of communication and mitigation processes.
Now, at the instant of delivery, an invoice is automatically generated, paired with a PDF version of the delivery receipt, synced to QuickBooks, and emailed to the customer. The result? No more cash-flow issues. Plus, it saved billing personnel hours every day. BPA not only solved one problem, it solved multiple problems for this client.
Key areas to Deploy BPA.
Custom software for business process automation can be applied to most, if not all, of the processes within your business, including:
- Billing & Payments
- Sales & Marketing
- Product development
- Human resources & On-boarding
- Supply Chain & Logistics
- Inventory tracking
- Education and training
- The list goes on...
What Are the Top Benefits of BPA?
How many times have you completed the same form, document, or spreadsheet? Or how many times have you keyed information into one system only to have to enter the same into another?
Before working with us, we find that many of our clients have processes that are stitched together with a number of business applications, like Google sheets, Jotform, and Zapier. We have actually been quite impressed with some of these solutions! There are great software products out there, many of which are quite inexpensive. But do you actually need a custom application? What is your principal objective? Does the new software's performance justify the expense? How many hours will be saved by building this ultimate system? Who is interacting with these applications? How important is the user experience? What kinds of new possibilities open up if you introduce automation?
Three of the most common benefits include:
- Saving Time
- Ability to Scale
- Preventing Errors
Automating processes has no limit to the amount of work a system can produce. The results save hours across personnel, departments, and business segments, and in turn strengthen team morale and produce better customer experiences.
Access Control and Data Security.
Many of our clients have security concerns. And they should. Cybersecurity is becoming a constant problem for businesses. Recent statics reveal a huge increase in hacked and breached data from sources that are increasingly common in the office and remote workforce. What kinds of controls do you have in place to prevent information from falling into the wrong hands? Are you using services that protect your data? If a database is breached, is the data stored encrypted at rest or in plain, readable text?
Today's businesses need solutions with 7 Layers of Security. This includes having policies and security measures in place that minimize the implications of a breach should one occur, including the length of downtime and the potential exposure of customer data.
- Lock servers down with tight security rules
- Filter all traffic through a web application firewall (WAF)
- Always ensure data is encrypted in transit
- Require multi-factor authentication for all users
- Monitor for unusual activity
- Store sensitive data encrypted at rest
- Backup data every day, hour, or minute
While any system open to the internet has inherent vulnerabilities, developing a serious security strategy will save you time and money, and give you and your customers peace of mind.
Is Business Process Automation worth the cost?
That all depends on your cost-benefit analysis. While an over-simplified example, the diagram below illustrates how most clients actually arrive at their decision.
We like to say that systems we build for our clients pay for themselves - and often come with massive ROI. At Hyperfly Developers, that is what we are all about. We work closely with you to understand the fine operational details of your business in order to help craft a solution that meets your goals. If you are considering hiring a developer, consider us. We'd love the opportunity to meet with you - at no cost - physically or virtually.
Schedule a consultation today.