What is Business Automation?
Business automation is the use of technology to automate processes and functions within an organization. Also known as business process automation, business automation can deliver massive productivity gains by helping a business transform traditionally manual processes into automations across the entire organization.
An automated business process takes a multi-step, multi-system or cross-departmental process and gives the task to software to simplify and manage. There are countless processes that are capable of automation to support the specific goals of an organization. For example, sales orders, customer relationships, vendor management or employee onboarding are traditionally manual processes suitable for automation.
Benefits of business process automation
Manually running repetitious tasks greatly disadvantages an organization. Manual tasks leave room for human error, time-sensitive processes are susceptible to delays and employees are often forced to juggle multiple applications and communication channels in order to carry out everyday duties.
However, business process automation eliminates these issues.
Automated and streamlined business processes are standardized, ensuring complete accuracy and consistency. All employees inside an organization are granted a more efficient and enjoyable experience as they are freed from tedious, time-sensitive and resource-intensive duties, allowing them to focus on higher value work.
On a wider scale, business process automation is a major step in an organization’s digital transformation. Implementing a strategic approach to business process automation allows organizations to operate with agility, adapt to new requirements and introduce new processes faster and more successfully.
Examples of business process automation
Here are three examples of core functions that can be improved with business process automation.
Manual, customer-facing processes hamper an organization’s ability to provide their customers with the best experience possible. Automated processes, such as an automated response sent to a customer inquiry or automatically directing support tickets to its relevant department, will ensure customers’ needs are handled as efficiently and quickly as possible.
Automated business processes involved with inventory management allow an organization’s operations to be more resilient and less vulnerable to disruption. Examples of inventory related processes to automate include supplier and distributor communication, inventory monitoring and order placements.
Speed is a crucial factor in securing a successful sale. The ability to quickly follow up on a lead is important, and business process automation can be utilized to improve the chance of a sale by automatically classifying leads, following up on initial contacts and reaching out to a prospect within a set amount of time.
Here are 5 benefits to using business process automation
1. Increased efficiency
Challenging and laborious tasks can be automated so that they are handled sequentially and quickly—allowing employees inside an organization to focus on what they do best.
2. Guaranteed accuracy
Humans make mistakes. Automated processes don’t. Errors inside an organization are eliminated when you can make the specific rules for how business is handled.
3. Better workplace experience
Employees won’t need to spend time sifting through resources spread across multiple platforms to complete a task. They will be able to communicate and collaborate effectively, as processes can be set up for reminders or team updates. Business process automation fosters a more enjoyable work experience when employees can focus on the work that they were hired to do—not the frustrating tasks that can be automated.
4. Save resources
Business process automation reduces the time, effort and expenses associated with the repetitive activities crucial to operations. It eliminates costs associated with errors and time-consuming processes and enables businesses to make better, informed decisions by providing valuable data.
5. Better risk management
Automation technology allows organizations to optimize risk and compliance management processes, like meeting compliance standards and audits. By optimizing these processes, organizations are able to ensure they are compliant and informed on any areas of their operations that need revisions.
Additionally, with the right business process automation platform, organizations are gifted further benefits from tools that support the entire process improvement lifecycle. For example, a platform that offers management and analysis capabilities gives organizations transparency into their business operations. Stakeholders can acquire newfound clarity in various business processes with the ability to assess the processes through operational visualizations and determine new opportunities for further improvements to implement. They can measure the organization’s performance, for example, by tracking specific KPIs.
How to automate business processes
If you’re ready to get started with business process automation, here’s how to begin your strategy and implementation process.
1. Identify your processes
Identifying the bottlenecks and potential improvements in how your business runs is the foundation for automation opportunities. Considering what tasks are repetitive, frustrating for employees, time-consuming, time sensitive or involve many elements of your business is a good place to start.
The process identification step could require a massive amount of manual work considering the amount of process data that needs to be reviewed. This is where process mining software can help.
Process mining software is a tool that quickly and easily analyzes all of your process data and then identifies bottlenecks and opportunities for automation. It can help identify so-called “happy paths” across supply chain, customer service, procure-to-pay or order-to-cash processes.
With process mining, detailed data is captured and translated, allowing you to fully understand your processes and their dependencies. This allows you to find patterns, anomalies and opportunities for improvement—transparently revealing the landscape of your business operations.
2. Identify your goals
It’s crucial that you determine the goals that you hope to achieve through your business automation implementation. Identifying your specific goals will allow you to assess your processes with clarity, measure success and analyze further improvements.
3. Find the right business process automation tool
After assessing what functions and processes need improvement and identifying the goals your automations should accomplish, the next step is to find the right tool that can help nurture your process transformation. You’ll need a business process automation tool that’s easy for your organization’s members to learn, is capable of adapting to operational changes, monitors your goals and offers the greatest ROI for what you wish to accomplish.
For example, according to a Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) study, enterprises that deploy Software AG’s ARIS for business processes see a 301% ROI, and when enterprises use ARIS to improve risk and compliance management processes, the ROI can climb as high as 457%.
Software AG offers six different ARIS editions so that you can find the right technology that your business needs—without complicating what it doesn’t need. Software AG also offers an abundance of ARIS resources, including a learning portal for training, a knowledgeable and speedy support team and an ARIS Community, so you can be sure your business strategy and transformation is in good hands.
ARIS suite - Run through your transformation lifecycle with a one-stop-shop for your "one way of working"
Examples of business process automation with ARIS
Here’s how a few Software AG customers use ARIS to create, manage and implement business process automations in their organization.
Goal: unify technologies and processes across business lines
Alicorp, the largest Peruvian consumer goods company, identified a need to unify technologies and processes across four complex business lines (consumer goods, B2B, aquaculture, and milling). Furthermore, there was a demand for standardization and automation of processes across all geographies and subsidiaries. Alicorp struggled to find an open process management platform that could integrate with the new SAP migration.
Solution: integrated and standardized more than 60 years of core processes
Using ARIS, Alicorp integrated immediately with conglomerate-wide SAP S/4HANA upgrade.
The company was able to establish a definitive process governance system regarding roles, responsibilities and hierarchies. The optimized processes allowed Alicorp to measure efficiency using strategic KPIs.
Using ARIS, Alicorp stakeholders are now able to share a single point of truth regarding both company and customer journeys—reducing incidents, avoiding expensive change requests and gaining the ability to centrally control all operations. The new tech solutions solved local problems while running new applications to better serve global customers and even merge different systems after numerous acquisitions.
Goal: reduce process duplication and siloed operations
Tesco, a multinational grocery retailer, understood that in order to better serve its customers worldwide, it needed clearer visibility into its business processes. Competitors were changing their business models continually, and Tesco knew it needed to transform its processes in order to compete.
Tesco was constantly finding gaps and holes in its processes and manual intervention was rife. Processes were documented through various resources—workshops, SharePoint, shared Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoints.
Solution: create a new business operating model with process visibility
Tesco partnered with Software AG, using ARIS, to deliver an integrated view of its end-to-end processes, allowing Tesco to create a business operating model to hypercharge efficiency.
Tesco expanded processes down to store operations level to ensure a consistent and efficient customer experience, providing customer-facing teams a store portal which eliminates the multiple elements employees had to spend time rummaging through.
Tesco gained complete visibility and control of its processes and management worldwide. The company is now able to see exactly how the business is working, offering transparency across stores—reducing risk and costs.
Business automation use cases with ARIS
ARIS by Software AG is a single platform that offers true business process transformation via tightly managed and controlled change. With ARIS, you can discover, create, manage and analyze your end-to-end business processes—which is the secret to operational excellence that gives stakeholders the tools and insights they need to make better decisions every day.
By using ARIS, you can establish an effective business automation strategy that adequately fits the needs of your organization. You can sync operational business goals and corporate strategy with the needs of IT, giving you a fast and efficient way to map your strategy and processes to your IT and automate them for higher productivity.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a capability of business process automation that uses software “robots” to automate specific repetitive human tasks. RPA solutions are easily installed, instant assignments that run on top of existing systems—meaning nontechnical users can curate their own specific solutions without having to learn how to code.
RPA technology improves the quality of many back-office processes by allowing you to configure and run software robots to automate repetitive, high-volume, rules-based tasks that don’t require human intuition. Fewer manual steps in your processes means reduced costs, increased efficiency and improved accuracy.
RPA-enabled bots built into your processes at a desktop or server can be deployed in days from ARIS—with no integrations or changes to your systems and applications.
Migrating to a new SAP system like SAP S/4HANA means you are paving the way for your digital future, embracing digital transformation and pushing toward better business outcomes—but it’s not an easy task to manage. Changing the foundation of your entire operations requires an invincible strategy.
To migrate successfully, you’ll need crystal-clear defined requirements for rollout, comprehensive testing, concrete training, and most importantly, the entire organization needs to be on board.
You’ll also want to establish an SAP solution that is risk-free and allows you to save on your resources without sacrificing any quality. This is where ARIS comes in.
ARIS for SAP solutions combines intelligent methodology, innovative technology and expertise from countless successful projects to guide your implementation safely, rapidly and cost-effectively.
If you’re looking to upgrade your software to SAP S/4HANA, ARIS can help you efficiently align all of your processes with the SAP architecture. Make the leap to SAP S/4HANA pain-free with ARIS’s efficient best practices and intelligent analysis and collaboration tools.
Unlock the power of process excellence with ARIS
Business automation can be the first step in your digital business transformation—and Software AG makes business process automation easy and pain free with ARIS.
The benefits of implementing business process automation sound promising; however, not all platforms are created equally. For 30 years, ARIS has been the #1 business process analysis (BPA) and management software solution for organizations seeking to embrace digital transformation. It supports the complete transformation lifecycle, from strategy to implementation and monitoring, and can be extended to new use cases at any time. ARIS is the only tool offering a true integration between process mining and process design, which makes it uniquely able to handle the complete process improvement lifecycle.
Explore our products
Software AG understands that different businesses require different needs. That’s why we offer six ARIS editions to support the business process and process mining tools you need.
- ARIS Basic is our starter edition—with all the essential features for professional business process management.
- ARIS Advanced gives you the next level of business process management with full flexibility of method and access control.
- ARIS Enterprise offers full capabilities for business process management and enterprise-wide transformation.
- ARIS Process Mining Basic, our free SaaS product, allows you to perform quick process health checks with data snapshots.
- ARIS Process Mining Advanced takes your process mining maturity to the next level with more comprehensive features.
- ARIS Process Mining Enterprise offers full configurability and integration excellence with functionality designed to align with enterprise-wide process management and value.
With ARIS, the gain in productivity and ability to shape and scale manual processes organization-wide is extraordinary. Explore the ARIS editions and capabilities or contact a team specialist to learn more about what Software AG can do for your business.