Business automation tools help businesses and their customers automate repetitive, routine tasks. They allow employees to focus on more strategic projects and provide an auditable data path that teams can use to make better-informed decisions and apply consistent controls.
What is business automation?
Business automation is the use of technology applications to perform repetitive tasks and free up employee time for higher-value tasks. These include business process automation (BPA), robotic process automation (RPA), and AI-driven automation. Years ago, automation required mainframes and teams of experts to maintain them. Today, cloud-based automation platforms make the functionality accessible to businesses of all sizes.
How does business automation work?
Business automation tools use technology to free manual work from routine business processes. From marketing and sales to human resources and accounting, nearly every area of a company’s operations can benefit from business automation.
With business automation, organizations can eliminate manual labor and improve and simplify the individual steps that make up various processes. For example, by automating the initial selection process for job applicants, companies can save a lot of work hours that would otherwise be spent on the initial screening of all received applications.
Business automation goes beyond replacing paper and PDFs with digitized data, it takes into account critical steps in an organization’s workflow, making those processes cheaper, faster, and less error-prone. By bringing these processes into one or more technology platforms, organizations also become better at analyzing data and reporting, which can then be used to make better-informed decisions.
Types of business automation
Automating specific business processes eliminates repetitive tasks, reduces time wasted on redundant processes, and helps improve overall productivity. To benefit from this, an increasing number of organizations are automating more and more of their business operations.
Business automation can be categorized but not limited to four main types:
Financial and accounting automation
Human Resources automation
Marketing is an important business activity that is cumbersome and expensive, making it a great candidate for simplification through automation.
Marketing automation software tools enable businesses to generate high-quality leads that are ready for conversion. More importantly, teams can use the automation framework to plan, build, execute and measure the success of marketing campaigns – removing the complexities of lead qualification and conversion.
Some marketing automation software can automate the email marketing process, allowing companies to better align these activities with the efforts of their sales teams. Businesses can also use marketing automation tools to track and measure lead activity, determine when a lead meets known buyer readiness criteria, and deliver a complete lead to sales when predetermined criteria are met.
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from marketing automation. For example, a small business can use the software to design, generate monthly emails to send relevant content or offers to a customer mail list. Over a year, this adds up to a significant number of saved hours dedicated to customer engagement.
At the same time, larger companies may want to take advantage of advanced marketing automation capabilities, such as dynamic segmentation of an extensive customer database to target customers via automated messages on social media or by text.
By automating lead generation and online marketing campaigns, businesses can reduce the cost of developing and running these campaigns. In turn, this helps generate a higher measurable return on investment (ROI) for each activity.
Financial and accounting automation
By automating their bookkeeping and accounting functions, businesses can save time on accounts receivable, accounts payable, invoicing, collections, credit card applications, data backups, and other financial processes that require daily or weekly management.
You can also apply automation to core processes such as closing books, general ledger management, and managing bank accounts. Automation makes complex processes more manageable by removing manual elements from the work of accounting teams and handling digitally intensive and transactional work.
Take accounts payable as an example. Automated systems in this specific area of corporate financial management can save money and time: data entry is automatic, invoices are automatically reconciled with documents, and approvals are sent electronically. Automation eliminates human errors, significantly reduces data inaccuracies, and helps prevent fraud.
Together, these capabilities provide essential advantages. Accounts payable automation software frees up cash flow and significantly reduces manual operations. Employees can submit invoices, manage approvals, and process payments from a single platform, quickly approve, and better understand and control critical financial processes and data.
For businesses of all sizes, bookkeeping is a time-consuming process that involves many manual steps. Organizations can free up time for essential tasks such as analytics, collaboration, and strategy development by automating some or all of these steps.
Business Process Automation (BPA) takes basic automation further by including application integration that helps organizations increase efficiency and generate more value. A part of the BPA, Robotic Process Automation, focuses on automating routine tasks and helps companies maximize their automation investment. BPA does this by aggregating data from multiple sources to develop analyses that are difficult to achieve manually.
Businesses use BPA to automate:
Report generation and distribution
From recruiting to email management to accounting, nearly every area of an organization can benefit from BPA, which replaces manual labor and simplifies and improves the workflows that make up most business processes. If they are automated, entire steps in existing workflows are omitted, such as email chains and document transfers.
Hiring a new employee is a multi-step process that begins with an online job posting or recruiting exercise and ends with the official hiring of the employee. The whole process can be improved and streamlined with business automation.
A Human Resource Management System (HRMS) is a valuable tool that, along with broader functionality, can automate the applicant tracking process. This mainly involves automated job postings sent directly to candidates, helping to share roles open to the outside world and existing employees who may want to apply for internal positions.
Human resource management systems are valuable for companies whose primary focus is the candidate experience – from applications to resume management and interview planning to submitting offers and onboarding. This automation enables HR teams to process applications, process payroll, manage current and historical employee data, improve user onboarding processes, and manage benefits.
Since HRMS automates all aspects of people management, including onboarding and payroll, it provides a complete analysis across these processes. It can also automate core HR processes, such as managing employee absences, benefits, and other basics. These systems also use analytics to provide essential insights into the productivity and efficiency of an organization’s workforce.
Other HR tasks that software can automate:
Store and retrieve employee records
Review online application
Distribute and sign employment contracts, nondisclosure agreements, waivers, and other documents for new employees
Manage employee tax forms
Check benefits eligibility
Oversee and schedule employee training
Human resources departments tasked with evaluating employees’ work can use the system’s data to track each employee’s tasks and create ready-to-use reports for managers and executives. For example, suppose employee turnover in a warehouse has become a severe problem in the past 90 days. In that case, a company can use HR tools to pinpoint the specific issue and make better hiring decisions.
Businesses of all sizes can apply business automation to countless tasks, projects, and processes. Benefits include saving time and costs, eliminating errors, and establishing controls to ensure policy compliance.
At Itirra, we provide companies with customized business automation solutions and opportunities to explore potential improvements to support their business goals. For a personalized recommendation based on your unique business model, don’t hesitate to get in touch or schedule a meeting with me