Business Process Automation: What is & How it works - Guide

Business Process Automation: What is & How it works - Guide

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, staying ahead of the competition requires organizations to continuously innovate and optimize their operations. One area that has gained significant attention is process automation. Through the utilization of technology and digital tools, businesses can streamline repetitive tasks, minimize manual effort, and enhance overall efficiency. Moreover, process automation holds the promise of increased productivity, cost savings, and enhanced customer experiences. In this article, we will delve into the world of process automation, exploring its definition, benefits, including various tools and strategies that enable businesses to automate their processes effectively.

What is Process Automation?

Process automation refers to the implementation of technology and digital tools to automate and streamline repetitive and manual tasks within business operations. Furthermore, it involves the use of software, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation (RPA) to replace or augment human involvement in executing specific processes. Automating these tasks allows organizations to eradicate errors, shorten completion timeframes, and attain heightened levels of consistency and precision. Process automation not only increases operational efficiency but also allows employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities. It empowers businesses to optimize their workflows, improve productivity, and allocate resources more effectively, ultimately driving better outcomes and facilitating business growth.

Benefits and Advantages of Automation

1. Enhanced Productivity

Automating mundane and repetitive tasks allows employees to focus on higher-value activities, boosting overall productivity. With automation handling time-consuming tasks, employees can dedicate their time to strategic initiatives, innovation, and relationship-building, leading to improved business outcomes.

2. Cost Reduction

Process automation offers organizations the opportunity to reduce labor costs, minimize errors, and optimize resource allocation, ensuring greater efficiency and effectiveness. With fewer manual interventions and enhanced efficiency, organizations can achieve cost savings by eliminating the need for additional human resources or reducing overtime expenses.

3. Improved Accuracy

Automation guarantees consistency and accuracy by eliminating the possibility of human error and reducing manual data entry. Automated systems follow predefined rules and algorithms, minimizing the risk of mistakes at work, such as data entry errors, miscalculations, or overlooked steps.

4. Faster Turnaround Time

Automated processes are typically faster, enabling organizations to respond promptly to customer demands and gain a competitive edge. The reduction of manual interventions, the streamlining of workflows, and the automation of task handovers enable organizations to expedite their response time, leading to improved customer satisfaction and expanded potential for business growth.

5. Scalability

Automation provides the flexibility to scale operations without adding significant resources, accommodating business growth and increasing efficiency. Whether it is handling an increased volume of customer inquiries, processing higher transaction volumes, or managing larger datasets, automation can seamlessly adapt to changing business needs.

What is Needed to Automate a Process?

To embark on process automation, organizations need to consider several key elements:

1. Process Analysis

Identify and evaluate existing processes to determine which ones are suitable for automation. Conduct a thorough analysis of the process flow, inputs, outputs, dependencies, and pain points to understand the automation potential and expected benefits.

2. Clear Objectives

Define specific goals and desired outcomes for automation, such as improved efficiency, reduced costs, or enhanced customer satisfaction. Clearly defining objectives aids organizations stay focused and measure the success of their automation efforts.

3. Technological Infrastructure

Make sure that the organization has the necessary hardware, software, and network infrastructure to support automation initiatives. Assess existing systems, identify any technological gaps, and invest in the appropriate automation tools and platforms that align with the organization's requirements.

4. Stakeholder Buy-in

Obtain support from key stakeholders, including executives, department heads, and employees, to foster a culture of automation adoption. Communicate the benefits of automation, address concerns, and involve stakeholders in the process to ensure a smooth transition and successful implementation.

5. Data and Security

Establish robust data management practices and security protocols to protect sensitive information throughout the automation process. Define data access permissions, encryption methods, and backup strategies to maintain data integrity and comply with relevant regulations.

process automation

What Types of Processes Can be Automated?

A wide range of processes can benefit from automation, such as:

1. Data Entry and Management

Automating data entry tasks can significantly reduce mistakes and improve data accuracy. Through the extraction of data from diverse sources, such as forms, emails, or documents, and the automated population of relevant fields in databases or systems, organizations can reduce manual data entry efforts and elevate the quality of data.

2. Customer Support

Automating ticket routing and responses can boost response times and provide customers with faster assistance. Intelligent chatbots and virtual assistants can handle initial customer inquiries, provide automated responses, and escalate complex issues to human agents when necessary, establishing a seamless customer experience.

3. Financial Processes

Automating invoice generation, payment processing, and financial reporting can streamline accounting operations. Extracting data from different sources, such as forms, emails, or documents, and automatically populating the appropriate fields in databases or systems allows organizations to unify data entry processes and enhance the accuracy and reliability of their data.

4. Inventory Management

Automating inventory tracking, reordering, and notification systems can optimize stock levels and minimize stockouts.Through the implementation of automated inventory management systems that track stock levels, activate reorder points, and issue notifications, organizations can effectively prevent stock shortages and overstocking, resulting in enhanced efficiency within the supply chain.

5. Human Resources

Automating employee onboarding, leave management, and performance evaluation processes can save time and improve HR efficiency. With the utilization of self-service portals, automated notifications, and predefined workflows, organizations can standardize HR procedures, boost employee experiences, and allocate HR resources more effectively to strategic initiatives.

10 Tools for Process Automation

1. UiPath

UiPath is a leading Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform that empowers organizations to automate repetitive tasks, data entry, and rule-based processes. Its visual designer and drag-and-drop functionality make it accessible to both technical and non-technical users.

2. Automation Anywhere

Automation Anywhere provides a comprehensive RPA platform that allows businesses to automate tasks across various applications and systems. Its intuitive interface and AI capabilities enable advanced automation scenarios and intelligent decision-making.

3. Zapier

Zapier is an integration platform that enables users to connect and automate workflows between hundreds of web applications. With its wide range of pre-built integrations and customizable workflows, Zapier simplifies data transfer and task automation.


IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a web-based service that connects different apps and devices to create standardized actions based on predefined triggers and conditions. It allows users to create custom automation recipes, known as applets, to simplify various aspects of their digital life.

5. Microsoft Power Automate

Formerly known as Microsoft Flow, Power Automate is a cloud-based service that enables users to streamline workflows across various Microsoft applications and third-party services. It offers a rich set of connectors and templates to simplify the automation process.

6. Airtable

Airtable is a collaborative work management platform that combines the functionalities of a spreadsheet and a database. With its automation features, users can create processes that trigger actions, send notifications, and update records based on predefined conditions.

7. Jira

Jira is a popular project management software known for its agility and flexibility. It offers automation capabilities through its Jira Automation feature, allowing users to digitize repetitive tasks, status updates, and notifications within their project operations.

8. HubSpot

HubSpot is a CRM platform that provides automation capabilities for marketing, sales, and customer service processes. Its automation features include lead nurturing, email marketing, task assignments, and personalized customer interactions.

9. Trello

Trello is a visual collaboration tool that uses boards, lists, and cards to manage tasks and projects. While not primarily an automation tool, Trello offers automation capabilities through integrations with third-party services like Butler, enabling users to automate repetitive actions and create custom workflows.

10. Uphint

Uphint records the processes executed by users on their computer and transforms them into step-by-step guides. It captures user actions, such as mouse clicks and keystrokes, and generates comprehensive instructions that can be shared via multiple formats (PDF, HTML, link or even embed it into other tools) and replicated easily.

Besides, once the how-to guide is created, users will be able to customize it by adding extra text, circles, deleting or adding steps or even blurring confidential information.

Get our free user manual template or our step-by-step guide template.

Do you want to learn more about digital tools? Check out our articles: Software Documentation Tools or Knowledge Management Software

How to Automate Processes? Step by Step

1. Identifying Processes

Analyzing existing processes and prioritizing those that are most suitable for automation based on complexity, volume, and potential ROI. Evaluating the workflows in terms of their potential benefits, automation feasibility, and alignment with organizational goals.

2. Defining Objectives

Clearly articulating the goals and outcomes companies aim to achieve through system automation. Whether it is reducing manual effort, improving accuracy, or enhancing customer satisfaction, clearly defining objectives helps organizations stay focused and measure the success of their automation efforts.

3. Mapping the Process

Creating a visual representation of the current process flow, including inputs, outputs, decision points, and dependencies. This helps in understanding the existing workflow, identifying bottlenecks, and visualizing how automation can streamline the sequence.

4. Identifying Automation Opportunities

Identifying specific tasks within the process that can be automated, such as data entry, report generation, or email notifications. Assessing the tasks based on their frequency, complexity, and potential for human error. Starting with tasks that are repetitive, rule-based, and require minimal human judgment.

5. Selecting Automation Tools

Evaluating and choosing the proper systematic tools based on the nature of the process and desired outcomes. Considering factors such as compatibility with existing systems, ease of integration, scalability, and vendor support. Pilot testing tools can help assess their effectiveness before full implementation.

6. Designing Automation Workflow

Using the chosen tools, design the automated workflow, specifying triggers, actions, and decision points. Defining the sequence of tasks, rules for decision-making, and system interactions. Exploiting the capabilities of the selected tools to create efficient and effective automated operations.

7. Testing and Validating

Thoroughly testing the automated process to ensure it performs as intended and meets the desired objectives. Conducting testing in a controlled environment, simulating different scenarios, and validating the outputs. Engaging relevant stakeholders, gathering feedback, and making necessary adjustments before deploying the automation.

8. Deployment and Monitoring

Implementing the automated process, closely monitoring its performance, and making adjustments as needed. Setting up monitoring mechanisms to track key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure the effectiveness of the automated process. Continuously monitoring the process for any issues or areas for improvement.

9. Employee Training

Providing necessary training and support to employees who will interact with or oversee the automated processes. Guaranteeing that employees understand the know-how to operate within the new automated environment, and addressing any concerns or questions they may have. Encouraging feedback and creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

10. Continuous Improvement

Regularly reviewing and optimizing systematic processes to identify areas for further improvement and drive ongoing efficiency gains. Analyzing process performance data, soliciting feedback from stakeholders, and leveraging automation analytics to identify bottlenecks, reducing errors, and enhancing the overall efficiency of the automated process.

12 Examples of Process Automation

1. Invoice Processing

Automating the end-to-end invoice processing workflow, including receipt, endorsement, and payment. Robotized systems can extract relevant data from invoices, validate it against predefined rules, and initiate payment processes, reducing manual effort and improving accuracy.

2. Employee Onboarding

Automating the employee onboarding process, including document collection, system access setup, and orientation scheduling. Through the utilization of digital forms, automated notifications, and predefined workflows, organizations can optimize onboarding processes, minimize paperwork, and facilitate a seamless transition for new employees.

Related: Automated Onboarding

3. Customer Service Ticketing

Instantly ticket routing and categorization, ensuring quick responses and efficient ticket resolution. Intelligent ticketing systems can automatically assign tickets to the appropriate departments or agents based on predefined rules, reducing response times and improving customer satisfaction.

4. Reporting Generation

Automating the generation and distribution of regular reports, saving time and ensuring consistency. Through the integration of data sources, establishment of report templates, and implementation of scheduled automated report generation, organizations can eradicate manual effort, minimize errors, and deliver real-time information.

5. Order Processing

Automating order placement, fulfillment, and tracking, minimizing errors and improving order accuracy. Self-operating systems can handle order entry, inventory checks, order status updates, and customer notifications, optimizing the order fulfillment process and enhancing customer experience.

6. Data Backup and Recovery

Mechanizing the backup and recovery processes, ensuring data resilience and business continuity. Scheduled backup routines, data replication to secure locations, and automated recovery procedures enable organizations to protect critical data and minimize downtime in case of disruptions.

7. Email Management

Automating email sorting, filtering, and response handling to prioritize and streamline communication. Email management tools can automatically categorize emails, route them to appropriate folders or departments, and suggest automated responses, reducing the time spent on email management.

8. Performance Evaluation

Automating the performance evaluation process, including self-assessments, goal tracking, and feedback gathering. Online performance management systems can streamline the evaluation process, notify participants, automate feedback collection, and provide comprehensive performance reports.

9. Sales Pipeline Management

Through the implementation of automated lead scoring algorithms, nurturing campaigns, and pipeline tracking tools, organizations can optimize their sales processes and enhance conversion rates.

10. Expense Management

Automating expense report submission, approval, and reimbursement, minimizing manual effort and ensuring compliance. Expense management systems can streamline the entire process, from submitting expenses digitally to automated approval workflows and direct deposit reimbursements.

11. Quality Assurance

Automating quality checks and testing procedures to ensure consistent product or service quality. By implementing automated testing frameworks, organizations can conduct comprehensive and repeatable quality checks, reducing errors and ensuring consistent product or service delivery.

12. Social Media Scheduling

Automating the scheduling and publishing of social media posts, ensuring consistent engagement and saving time. Social media management tools can help schedule posts in advance, analyze engagement metrics, and automate repetitive tasks like posting across multiple platforms.


Process automation offers organizations a powerful toolkit to optimize operations, increase efficiency, and drive growth. With the utilization of automation tools and technologies, businesses can optimize workflows, minimize costs, and improve accuracy, resulting in a competitive advantage in the market. Through meticulous planning, appropriate tool adoption, and a step-by-step approach, organizations can successfully embrace the automation journey and unleash the full potential of their business processes. Embracing automation today is a strategic investment that can position businesses for sustained success in the ever-evolving business landscape of tomorrow. By harnessing the power of process automation, organizations can transform their operations, achieve operational excellence, and drive meaningful results.

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