Business Process Automation: A Big “No” to Routine

Business process automation (BPA) has long been an indispensable condition for growth and competitiveness in the modern market. Today, it continues to gain momentum, becoming more affordable and easier to implement. The scope for improvement is vast: Though 98% of IT leaders agree that business optimization is vital to driving business benefits, more than half of automation opportunities are still being missed. Employees spend 30% of their time on paperwork, manual document management, and boring, repetitive tasks. The human factor leads to silly mistakes, while chaotic business processes cause confusion, time wasting, and, ultimately, a decrease in efficiency.

In recent years, BPA has become a subject of numerous scientific articles and expert recommendations. Hundreds of out-of-the-box solutions have popped up. It is seriously difficult to find anyone who has never heard of CRM and ERP systems, macros, and robotization. Here, however, many concerns come to the fore: How can all this stuff be adapted to particular business needs? Will it be convenient and effective? How much customization will you end up with? Will a third-party developer understand and consider the company’s unique requirements? These are burning questions indeed, and as a business analyst, I have to answer them pretty often.

Business process analysis begins with immersion in the daily working procedures of the company. To automate and, more importantly, optimize your internal processes, a business analyst becomes part of your team, spending a work day (or probably longer ?) with your employees. This practice often reveals significant shortcomings in the business process organization: “gaps” in job descriptions, multiple risk zones, and “empty” hours. After all, lookers-on notice more than team players.

The simplest example: A financial organization’s specialist usually spent 2–2.5 hours preparing a weekly KPI report. It took time to extract data from the email attachments, manually input data into the excel forms, download files from an external resource, fill out two templates and, finally, check everything was up. In short, it was a makeshift ERP. After calculating the cost of this work per hour and assessing the risks associated with this report, we created a more efficient and user-friendly reporting system. As a result, the report preparation time was reduced to only 43 minutes.

In another project, Auriga developed an automated system to collect, store, and analyze bank data, considering the specificities of different branches. The business analysts were faced with the challenge of carefully (and quickly) considering the integration specifics (i.e. defining the data from the financial and retail departments). Moreover, it was equally important to establish a dialogue with the customer and agree on the priority requirements for the system.

The schedule was tight (only 4 months!) but we met all the key needs of the client: Auriga created a flexible, automated system (customizable in accordance with the job descriptions), implemented real-time report generation, and more. Reports are only useful if they help make accurate management decisions; with this in mind, we developed a KPI calculation module consolidated by branch and department. For greater user convenience, color indications, calculation details, visualization, and other functions were added.

Thus, business analysis is an important initial step for turning a vector of changes into your performance criteria. Later comes questioning, brainstorming, interviewing, and reading out the documentation. It is critical not only to track the process mechanics, but also to focus on the essence of the operation itself. You need to get rid of manual routine and shaky makeshifts while keeping that essence. Analysts take an overall view of the business and, using BPMN and UML tools, recreate the key stages of internal processes to highlight unnecessary repetitions and downtime. Based on these insights, a strong engineering team provides an innovative solution to automate your work and optimize your performance.

In starting to automate your business, remember that automation and optimization are like renovation: Too often, they can’t be completed – they can only be stopped. The good news is, however, that there is one significant difference: Such “renovation” not only requires funds, but also increases your profitability.