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Business process automation: Some important lessons to learn

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Living through the pandemic necessitated the need for adoption of digital technologies. Whether we were comfortable or not, we were forced to leave traditional ways behind and embrace digital transformation. This gave a huge fillip to business process automation. The relentless pursuit of survival had compelled organisations to adopt new-age technologies, and automation was one of them. 

The global digital process automation market is projected to grow from $ 6.77 billion in 2018 to $ 12.61 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 13.3% from 2018 to 2023. Organizations of all sizes have embraced bot-driven digital transformation across departments to optimize operating costs and accelerate business. However, if not planned properly, the entire automation exercise can prove to be a futile effort leading to wastage of time and resources. Hence, we need to gather our learnings from past years with respect to automation to ease our way into this year and coming years. 

Also Read: Traditional vs Digital Payments: An All-Out War!

Have a clearly defined set of objectives  Most of the times, organizations adopt new-age technologies without having a clear set of goals and objectives. If we are vague about the processes that we are aiming to streamline through automation then it will not yield desired results. If organizations automate just for the sake of calling themselves digitally transformed then it will not serve any purpose. Without an overarching vision and a coherent strategy, automation will not create the desired impact.  

Understand processes holistically  A lack of holistic view of the processes and its innumerable variants can result in ineffective utilization of resources. No process transparency and lack of insights lead to sub-optimal automation and the bots will require months of hardening to account for the vagaries and variations in processes. The traditional methods of process mapping are not enough. Companies need to adopt more modern ways such as process mining, which leverages computer vision and machine intelligence to get a deeper and detailed understanding of processes. 

Not choosing the right business processes  At the outset, every process looks automation ready. However, the reality is not every process needs to be automated to yield efficiency. Hence, it is important for teams to identify processes that are rule-based and redundant in nature, thereby ideal for automation. 

Cost of implementation  While automation can pay significant dividends, it is important to consider the upfront costs. These include direct costs such as purchasing licenses, managing vendors, infrastructure, and indirect costs such as training and upskilling of employees, support costs, etc. Hence, if the processes are not carefully identified and selected for automation, it can result in huge monetary losses. 

Selecting the right tools and software for automation  Picking the right tools and platforms for automation is just as important as selecting the right processes. Therefore, choice of the automation tools must align with the objective that an organization wants to achieve. It must also be compatible and work seamlessly with the existing application landscape and the technology infrastructure of the organization. 

Automation, if applied wisely and effectively, can yield significant returns. It frees up the workforce from rule-based, mundane and repetitive tasks, thereby allowing them to focus on more meaningful work that not only enhances the nature of their jobs but also gives them a chance to develop as multifaceted professionals.

As written by Neelesh Kripalani, Chief Technology Officer at Clover Infotech, and published in The Times of India

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