Business process automation: your must-have defence against economic volatility

New figures from the ONS show the UK narrowly avoided recession at the end of 2022, as GDP rose by 0.1%.

But as analysts expect the economy to struggle over the coming months, and the recent Spring Budget reinforces the volatile state of the economy, we’re reminded that running an organisation during periods of instability is perhaps the toughest task in business.

Fortunately, investing in the right digital solutions will help you tackle today’s challenges head-on. Specifically, automation technology enables you to reduce employee workloads, swap out inefficient processes for effective ones, and accomplish more with fewer resources. It’s an ideal protectant against economic volatility—and can even spark business growth. So, let’s explore automation in a little more detail.

What is process automation?

Simply, business process automation (BPA) software uses technology to automate routine tasks, like data entry, document organisation, and more. Some platforms even harness advancements like AI and machine learning to perform increasingly complex operations, such as scanning and capturing information directly from documents.

BPA can support organisations to tackle a variety of wider challenges. For instance, it can automatically send important documents to remote stakeholders for approval. It can rapidly gather invoice information to help accounts payable departments track, monitor, and process paperwork faster. Plus, HR departments can use BPA to eliminate repetitive manual data entry and streamline information flow across systems for more effective communication.

However, BPA does not replace humans, and employees remain the drivers of change and innovation. Automation simply allows us to achieve more as we work, keeping our business and the world moving forward. By turning time-consuming daily chores into seamless, automatic actions, we can accelerate our everyday productivity and enjoy extra time to focus on more creative, fulfilling, high-value activities. While this is important in any commercial landscape, today’s uncertainties mean it’s even more crucial.

The benefits of BPA during financial volatility

Process automation can produce a range of low-cost, high-impact benefits that help businesses safely navigate periods of wider economic difficulty. BPA unlocks money-saving measures through the minimising of the cost of manual work, freeing up staff to focus on other important areas of the business. It gives managers greater visibility and transparency of operations, highlighting areas for change and improvement. Plus, it even helps organisations to grow during financial hardship —speeding up turnarounds for customer interactions can boost satisfaction and unlock the internal capacity to take on even more business.

Similarly, BPA helps to spark the ideas that help businesses to insulate themselves against, and innovate their way out of, stagflation. Employees liberated from routine assignments can concentrate on original, big-picture projects that generate new sales, improve relationships with existing customers, and strengthen organisation’s market position.

As we teeter around a recession, there’s no better time to invest in the BPA tools that keep your business safe and successful. Let’s explore how you can land on the perfect process automation platform to fit your organisation.

Finding the right system for you

The search for well-fitting BPA software begins with looking at your business’s current processes, and investigating how you might use the proposed platform. You’ll need to consider:

The current processes you plan to improve through automation

Where opportunities lie for automation to assume control of tasks

Who will use the software and the access and privileges required—will it be just one team, a handful of departments, or the entire organisation?

The hardware and infrastructure upgrades your business may need to make to deploy a BPA system to its full capabilities

Next, you should begin researching the BPA platform best suited to meet these needs. Be sure to consult resources like analyst reports, customer references, and software review websites, and look out for any providers that specialise in your field. Once you’ve longlisted potential vendors, dive further into their specs and promotional materials and look out for software trials or demos. Ultimately, your choice will rest on a handful of criteria.

Does the BPA system provide the tools your organization needs for intended outcomes? Does it offer a good return on investment? Is it simple, configurable to your workplace, and scalable? You’ll also need to consider where the system will be hosted — via the vendor, an application service provider, on-premises, or on a public cloud. Equally important is security. Is the system protected and compliant with industry regulations specific to your organisation? And finally, can you access training to maximise the BPA tools and get help in the event of a problem?

Once you’ve decided upon your vendor, it’s time to start automating—and getting value out of your purchase.

Start your digital transformation today

At a time when almost every business needs to cut its costs, BPA is an invaluable tool to streamline workloads across every department, without having to make difficult decisions about your workforce. With pre-built digital processes and solutions ready and waiting to jumpstart efficiencies, BPA offers perhaps the quickest return on investment of any resource-saving measure.

The key is acting early. As we’re still not sure how the UK’s economy will fare throughout 2023, the business leaders who make appropriate changes now will be best placed to support their organisations throughout the future. To protect and grow your business during volatility, it’s time to harness BPA today.

About the Author

Attar Naderi is Associate Director EMEA at Laserfiche. Laserfiche is the leading SaaS provider of intelligent content management and business process automation. Through powerful workflows, electronic forms, document management and analytics, the Laserfiche® platform eliminates manual processes and automates repetitive tasks, accelerating how business gets done.

Featured image: @alphaspirit