Business Process AutomationΒΆ

Your business, at its heart, is an interlinked set of processes. Advertising generates customer interest, customer interest leads to orders, orders require fulfillment, filling orders requires ordering or creating inventory, all of which needs to be accounted for, and all of which requires coordination among your staff.

Business Process Automation is the art of identifying the processes involved in servicing your customers, and optimizing those processes to give your staff the maximum leverage: allowing your staff to get more done in less time, and more effectively.

The “automation” part is identifying the repetitive tasks, and arranging for the computer to do all the work that doesn’t require a human brain for making decisions.

Business Process Automation can be done for any business, at any scale.

The simplest example I’ve heard of is a company in a specialized market that manufactures small runs of custom parts sized to customer specifications. Very successful in their limited niche, they have gotten along for years by taking customer orders over the phone. The customer calls in, tells the staff member the dimensions, the staff member writes them down, and then later enters them into the manufacturing system.

In this modern age, the company has gotten itself a web site. But currently there is no order form on the site. Creating such a web form, where the customer can type in the dimensions, would be a significant automation for this company, even if all the web form did was send the dimension information as an email to a staff member. First, it would free up staff time, since that customer interaction didn’t require a phone call. Second, it would eliminate transcription errors that occasionally result from the staff member writing down what they think they hear the customer say. That would both increase customer satisfaction and improve productivity by eliminating production runs of parts manufactured to the wrong specifications.

Depending on the nature of the manufacturing system, it may well also be possible to further automate the process by having the data from the form communicated directly to the manufacturing computer system.

This kind of custom code, code that hooks one existing system (the web site) to another existing system (the manufacturing computer system) is the key place where a Business Process Automation consultant can be employed. Each business is unique, with a unique collection of business processes that employ a unique collection of computing assets. The BPA consultant can create custom software to link these computing systems together in ways that make it easier for staff to get their work done, often eliminating drudgery and engendering increased job satisfaction in the process.

A business is composed of many processes, and often many different software systems. A review by a BPA consultant can identify a spectrum of opportunities for automation. The business can start with the simplest, and thereby initiate a new process: the process of making stepwise improvements to all of the other processes in the business.