Top 6 Business Process Automation Use Cases

When at business meetings, or talking to customers, I regularly get asked ‘Can you give me examples of business processes I can automate? Or What are your other clients using the FlowForma no code tool for within their business to increase productivity?

What Business Processes Should I Automate?

This question typically comes from someone curious within an organization who has already perhaps automated one or more workflows and is hungry to digitalize more, looking for examples of business process automation.

Is Business Process Automation just relevant in certain functional areas?

HR, Finance, and Quality-related automated workflows are common but the truth is that that’s just scratching the surface. There is a plethora of business process automation examples. You really can digitalize any processes within any department. As one of our clients once said, ‘The only limitation is your imagination’.

Let’s dig deeper into common business process automation software use cases so it is clear why every organization needs a business process automation tool. Gauge the potential efficiency savings (time and financial) linked to automating processes using 6 real-world examples that everyone can relate to. We will keep it high-level with examples that are relatable across many industry sectors.

What is Business Process Automation (BPA)?

You will find lots of definitions out there of ‘What is Business Process Automation?’ (not to be confused with Robotic Process Automation or Business Process Management) but in very simple terms, it is where a technology solution is used to automate business processes.  

How do Analysts Define Automating Business Processes?

Gartner’s definition gives some more granularity:

‘Business process automation (BPA) is defined as the automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through the use of advanced technologies. It focuses on “run the business” as opposed to “count the business” types of automation efforts and often deals with event-driven, mission-critical, core processes. BPA usually supports an enterprise’s knowledge workers in satisfying the needs of its many constituencies.

Is Business Process Automation and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) the same?

These two terms are often confused. Business Process Automation is concerned with business-led processes while robotic process automation is the automation of business processes using robots and does not require human intervention.

 

Are RPA & BPA the same?

Because any organization has a range of divisions with respective business processes the scope and opportunity for business process automation can be surprising.

Let’s dive in for some inspiration.  

Manual Business Processes vs Process Automation

The best way to explain the potential benefit of manual business processes vs. automated processes is to share a real-world use cases.

An obvious example is a leave request form. The manual process route might be to email a manager with a request or a paper-based system whereby the employee completes a leave request form.

The automated business process may look like this:

  1. Login to your company’s SharePoint instance

  2. Select Leave Request

  3. Enter the relevant information in the electronic form (many fields will be pre-populated with your employee information)

  4. Submit Your Request

  5. Request is routed electronically to your Manager for approval

  6. Manager approves/rejects: Approves: request is routed to HR for final approval; Rejected: request is passed back to the requestor for additional info required or confirmation on why the request has been declined.

Digitalized Leave Request

The overall business process is quick, consistent, transparent, in line with company HR policy, and bears all the hallmarks of operational efficiency. The alternative manual process can be error-prone, time-consuming, and inconsistent, with a lack of transparency, not to mention archaic.

Let's look at other areas where you can automate and save time.

Top 6 Business Process Automation Use Cases

A manual business process is becoming a thing of the past mainly because more and more organizations are aware of saving time and overall operational efficiencies to be gained from eliminating manual data entry and making business operations leaner. Let’s look at 6 automation examples and I’ll share some real-world paper-based processes that have been given a digital transformation overhaul to reduce human effort and free time.

 1. Streamline Processes for Employee Onboarding 

The Human Resources department is plagued with HR processes and manual tasks. At a high level, you have job vacancies, interviews, reference checks, onboarding forms, induction training, payroll, IT system access, objective setting, performance reviews, leave requests, expenses, timesheets, uniform requests, training employees,  etc.. the list is endless.

When the onboarding process is manual it is extremely time intensive not to mention the reams of paper printed, manually completed, and filed in storage rooms. At a time when it can be difficult to attract and retain recruits, it has never been more important to create a good impression from the outset and welcome new members to your organization using a slick automation platform.

Onboarding employees is a solid BPA software example. There are few if any processes that cannot be digitalized saving employees, and the enterprise, a staggering amount of time and expense not to mention reducing manual errors.

Automating repetitive tasks within the HR department allows data to be analyzed instantly and effortlessly at the touch of a button. HR managers have all the information at their fingertips and can quickly identify bottlenecks with the correct dashboards in place.

Onboarding a new employee has many sub-processes and is one of the most common examples of business process automation. We use the FlowForma Process Automation tool for all our onboarding processes. Once a candidate has been selected for a position numerous automated workflows start to ensure the company, and new employee, have everything required. Processes can include:

Employee Details Record

A hiring manager initiates this process once the employee offer is signed and accepted. A digital form is presented to capture the employee's general details e.g. name, address, email, type of contract, department, location, and start date.

Once the above process is completed it kickstarts two parallel workflows: HR Preparation and IT Preparation 

HR Preparation

An automated email notifies the nominated HR team member to action this next onboarding step. This will involve recording information such as contract type, account/s set-up required, meetings to be scheduled, annual leave entitlement, welcome gift, etc.

 IT Preparation

A parallel assignment goes to the IT department. An automated email is sent to all the application owners and administrators, notifying them of the new start, prompting them to get them set up on various applications, and recording the laptop serial number within the digital workflow.

 Facilities Preparation

This check phase ensures that the employees’ laptop is set up correctly and that they have been issued with all the relevant equipment (charger, keyboard, mouse, laptop bag, headset, swipe card).

 Employee Sign-off

The final step is to provide the new hires access to various handbooks and security training. The last field in this digital form is for them to confirm sign-off. This digital record confirms that all steps have been followed correctly.

Say goodbye to lever arch files and hole punches and hello to a highly efficient digitalized process. The entire process eliminates unnecessary data entry and promotes task delegation and human intervention at the right intervals.

FlowForma Employee Onboarding Form

Onboarding Success Stories

Many FlowForma clients including Morgan Construction, A14, CVB JV Tideway East, and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust are automating business processes in their HR departments and rely on our tool for streamlined employee onboarding.

DPA Onboarding

2. Business Process Automation for On-Site Check Sheets

Check sheets are common practice on a Construction site and a mandatory process from a health and safety perspective, but paper forms often get damaged, misplaced, and worst case scenario lost! Large construction sites spanning different physical locations can pose another challenge – the time it takes to retrieve, scan, and upload all check sheets onto internal systems.

This is an everyday business process automation example within the Construction sector. Pre-built digital templates allow our construction clients to automate the recording of common checklists for evaluating things such as drainage systems, a vital task for health and safety.

Employees can record the required information on a mobile device or tablet on-site. The information is collected in real-time and the data is electronically filed and accessible at the touch of a button.

On-Site Check Success Stories

Coinford Ltd has digitalized 10+ QA (Quality Assurance ) tasks to date. One particular process, Ground Bearing Slab Inspections, is a crucial step with new builds before concrete is poured onto foundations.

Their engineers and site managers are alerted if an inspection is required through FlowForma Process Automation and reminded to complete a checklist. When all fields in the digital workflow are completed, a preparation stage report is automatically generated and sent electronically to the client for sign-off, which sanctions the pouring of concrete.

Shaun Circle“Tablets allow engineers, project managers and site managers to walk the site and use FlowForma Process Automation forms on the move, not just in cabins,” 

Shaun O’Donnell, IT Director. 

3. Automate Supplier/Customer Onboarding

Another common area to automate processes is supplier and customer onboarding. When working with a new supplier/customer, mandatory information is required to set them up on internal systems within most organizations.

There may also be a requirement from an ISO Accreditation standpoint to hold a record of all suppliers you engage with for an external quality audit. It is therefore imperative that all information on suppliers meets certain criteria and is easily accessed.

FlowForma Engage

FlowForma Engage is a service that allows external stakeholders (e.g. suppliers, customers, even the general public) to access forms using a unique web link, that can be placed on a public website or sent in an email. You can design processes so that any step can be made accessible externally. Engage process steps can be made anonymous or securely assigned to a specific user, using their Microsoft, Gmail, or Facebook account details. When a user completes an assigned step, they must log into their relevant provider before FlowForma allows them access to the step - as if they were part of your internal team, but without the need for them to have direct access to your Office 365 environment.

Onboarding Success Stories

Ergo, one of Ireland’s leading cloud and IT-managed service providers, uses the FlowForma Process Automation tool for customer onboarding processes. Their primary goal was one version of the truth as customer information was scattered. The FlowForma solution provides a consistent onboarding approach across multiple divisions and an enhanced customer satisfaction.

Read the Ergo Success Story

The benefits of digitalized onboarding:

  • Reduce costs
  • Speed, no paper delays
  • Updated from anywhere, on any device
  • Improved experiences
  • Data can be validated as its entered
  • Documents can be generated based on the data inputtedInformation is automatically passed to the internal system with no re-keying required

4. Automate Processes for Invoice Processing

We and many of our clients use our Business Process Automation tool for invoice processing.

The workflow is straightforward, users can upload individual invoices via a user-friendly interface. They are prompted to complete multiple steps, adding all the required information including date, purpose, region, supplier, supplier contact name and email address, invoice currency, invoice total, cost type, form of payment, invoice number, and due date. They are also asked if it is a new supplier and, if yes, they are reminded to carry out the necessary ISO procedure to record information on the new supplier.

Data entry is minimized and once the form is submitted it is routed to the correct employee for approval before the finance team organize payment and close out tasks.

5. Automate ISO Compliance Procedures

Anyone tasked with managing and maintaining an information security framework will agree that consistency and easy access to information is necessary. There is a significant commitment from all teams across the company and robust workflows must be in place to ensure that all information is being recorded correctly and available to all stakeholders at the right time.

The benefits of digitalized compliance procedures to the business:

At FlowForma we have used our Business Process Automation solution to digitalize our ISO procedures for several reasons:

  • Streamline time-consuming tasks that require input from multiple stakeholders

  • Reduce the cost associated with hiring someone to specifically manage an Information Security Framework (decentralization of tasks)

  • Enhance visibility for audit trails and understanding  

By digitalizing the compliance processes bottlenecks are easily identified and timely decision making is introduced to the process. 

With the tool’s flexibility and adaptability, the security framework can be adapted to each business specific requirement, adding additional value to their existing return on investment. 

FlowForma Positive Outcomes of Digitalizing ISO Procedures

6. Business Process Automation for Procurement

Many of our clients use our Process Automation tool for Procurement processes. These processes often affect many employees, so the desire to simplify, reduce manual review, and create efficient workflows for all concerned is high.

One of our NHS clients needed a BPA solution that not only ticked all of the automation, features and capability checkboxes but was also an affordable solution for their 64,000-user base.

Consistency & Efficiency Guaranteed

Consistency and efficiency is the beauty of automating processes for procurement, especially in a large organization. The need for transparent processes and being able to access one version of data is of utmost importance.

Procurement Automation Success Stories

Read the Downer Case StoryOur Construction client Downer New Zealand uses our tool to automate their purchase order process. With predefined rules in place, they have digitalized 4,500+ purchase order requests saving an estimated 1,191 hours of work.

"Once people start using a product like FlowForma, the thought of going back to the legacy approach is a big motivator to digitalize. The stories go back to our senior leadership team which helps to get everyone on the same page and demonstrate the impact across the entire organization,”

Cameron Hyndman, Digital Engineering Lead, Downer

Conclusion

So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to automate business processes and progress your digital transformation strategy? I’m hoping you have an understanding of why a Business Process Automation tool is the key to success and the efficiency gains that can be achieved.

All of our clients benefit extensively from our comprehensive SureStart customer support program which helps them to scale fast with the BPA software and truly wrap their arms around the technology. Super users appear quickly across organizations. Process Automation and ROI is fast with most clients enjoying reduced costs in weeks. As process owners start automating manual processes, internal and external customers begin to reap the benefits.

If you are still curious and have more questions, check out the Top 10 examples of BPA Software FAQs for more process automation inspo.

How to Get Process Automation Started

To get a better understanding request your demo or a free 14-day trial.

Shay O'Connor, Head of Solutions

Shay O'Connor is the Head of Solutions at FlowForma. With over 25 years' experience in the technology sector and a drive for innovation Shay is one of our FlowForma Product Experts.

Shay O'Connor, Head of Solutions

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