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As Australian organisations emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many will be left facing a crossroads. Following on the disruption and accelerated digital transformation of the last two years, what lessons should be carried forward? Which interim changes should become permanent, and how should goals be realigned as companies start returning to ‘business as usual’?

Ultimately, we expect that many companies will place a renewed focus on growth and scale as business priorities, especially in light of the growing competition in many markets. Business process automation (BPA) can play a key role in achieving these outcomes—but what is BPA, and how can it be leveraged to facilitate companies’ growth? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Business Process Automation?

Business process automation—also known as business process optimisation (BPO) and business process reengineering—involves assessing, reimagining, and often automating business processes with an eye toward maximising performance and efficiency.

In the last two years, we’ve seen that organisations have largely used business process automation as a defensive tactic. Because they haven’t been able to get into the office, they needed to figure out how to digitise mail, for example, or how to access files in a cloud environment.

Yet as we start moving forward, we expect to see more organisations shift their automation efforts to a more proactive stance—one that enables them to scale more quickly and focus on growth. Already, we’re seeing a 48 per cent rise in market growth for business automation across ANZ, as demand for secure, reliable processes increases.

How Business Process Automation Facilitates Growth and Scale

BPA is a blanket term that encompasses a range of discrete services, such as robotic process automation (RPA), digital transformation, and workflow and exception management.

Each of these solutions has applications across what Canon Business Services (CBS) have identified as the four key functions of BPA:

Operations and IT
Customer Experience (CX)
Finance
Administration and shared services

Let’s dive more deeply into how BPA supports growth in each of these areas.

Operations and IT

Speed matters. Efficient operations can go to market more quickly, resolve issues more quickly, and provide faster response times to both internal and external stakeholders. Inefficient operations, on the other hand, stifle growth and prevent organisations from scaling.

BPA drives faster performance by reducing the demands associated with the following types of activities, among others:

Repetitive work
Administrative work
Departmental work outside of an organisation’s core business products or activities
Cross-departmental workflows and data processing
Unlocking valuable business data

By targeting these areas with BPA, companies can scale more easily without increasing the strain on existing employees. As an example, Deloitte estimates that more than 50 per cent of standard HR processes could have robotics applications. Using BPA to onboard and provision new employees more efficiently enables them to contribute to the business’s growth more quickly.

In addition, Gartner predicts that, “by 2024, organizations will lower operational costs by 30 per cent by combining hyperautomation technologies with redesigned operational processes.” Cost savings like these enable headcount and resources to be reallocated to higher priority activities—specifically, those that contribute more directly to an organisation’s growth.

Furthermore, BPA-driven reporting makes it possible to generate and interpret larger quantities of data than before. This provides key insights for business decision-makers attempting to understand where and how to scale their operations.

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Customer Interactions and Experience

BPA can also be used to support a number of customer service functions—all without compromising the quality of the overall customer experience.

For instance, using BPA to support customer service workflows prevents interactions from being missed and allows for faster resolution of issues. Implementing BPA also frees customer-facing staff from manual work so that they can spend more time directly helping clients, and allows them to deliver higher quality outcomes resulting in less rework.

The net result is happier, more satisfied customers that tend to purchase more frequently and make more referrals to your brand—both of which directly contribute to your growth.

Finance

As in the case of customer service automation, applying BPA to financial responsibilities such as accounts payable (AP) and invoicing eliminates the risk of human error that could result in lost revenue. That’s because, once an automated workflow is built and deployed, it runs the same way every time—there’s simply no way for mistakes to occur. As a result, this can enable speedier accounts payable, drive more refined data management, and improve the efficiencies of any other processes in play.

BPA also allows smaller financial teams to support a larger number of clients, while enabling faster quote and proposal processing to drive new business. This efficiency supports greater profits—which, in turn, produces greater capital that can be funnelled back into key growth drivers, such as sales, marketing, and innovation.

Administration and Shared Services

Finally, consider that stronger document management processes facilitated by BPA can make employees more efficient—something that’s especially important for revenue-generating employees.

Companies can also minimise compliance issues and other financial penalties since, with BPA, documents and related activities can be tracked and documented appropriately to meet compliance requirements. This, in addition to the revenue recapture achieved through the application of BPA in other areas, preserves working capital and prevents it from being directed away from growth-oriented activities.

Getting Started with Business Process Automation

Ultimately, the list of examples shared above isn’t exhaustive; there are plenty of other ways BPA can be used to drive growth and scale within an organisation.

However, these use cases should inspire you to start thinking about the role BPA could play in your organisation—both as a driver of efficiency and of the kind of growth you’ll need to sustain to remain competitive now and into the future.

The key to driving growth and scale with BPA comes down to having the right partner in place. Customers come to Canon for BPA support because they trust our brand to deliver results—if we can successfully implement BPA for organisations like AIA Group, the Department of Health, Southern Cross Travel Insurance, and Pepper Money, we can do the same for you.

We’re able to drive results for organisations like these because BPA is one of our core areas of expertise, and because every BPA solution we create is purposefully designed (no off-the-shelf software here).

To better understand the impact a customised BPA solution could have on your organisation’s future growth, reach out to our team directly for a personalised consultation.

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