Methods of Process Automation & Task Automation

The methods of and approaches to automating business processes are constantly evolving as new technologies emerge and existing approaches converge. Here’s an overview of the 4 main approaches used to automate operational tasks and processes today:

  • Upgrading your existing business management system


    Larger businesses will run their business operations on several Core business IT systems such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Supply Chain Management (SCM) system. Processes can be automated through these systems however customisation of these systems is widely recognised to be complex, time consuming and expensive. As such these systems tend to be used to manage core operational processes and aren’t suitable or flexible enough to support the automation specific departmental workflows or tasks

  • Implement a Business Process Management (BPM) Solution


    These are solutions used to optimise, automate and manage specific processes that are either manual or inefficient in the core business systems such as the ERP.

    BPM solutions are less complicated to update and optimise processes through a broad range of modular capabilities across the information lifecycle from Digital workflows and process automation, data capture and extraction to content and information search, archiving, collaboration & business intelligence. They typically offer the broadest range of potential benefits beyond just those associated with automation but it depends on the implementation.

    BPM solutions and their workflow engines often have a strength in managing the switch between automation and human workflows as well as integration directly with Business IT systems such as ERP.

    There are 2 broad categories of BPM solutions:

    Application Specific – These BPM solutions are typically optimised for automating and managing one or a collection of very specific processes within a department such as Expenses, Account Payable, Onboarding etc. Their strength can also be their weakness in some cases as it encourage silos.

    Customisable BPM Platforms – These BPM platforms are today highly and easily customisable to any process and often include templates for certain processes as well as integrate with other systems and applications. They typically incorporate the full suite of BPM capabilities for managing and automating the processing of information irrespective of process.

    Instead of many application specific solutions, customisable BPM platforms remove silos in information, systems and cost. Key Applications include contract management, finance workflows, sales proposal management, Internal or external approvals, HR document workflows, sales order processing, case management, project management and customer specific workflows.

  • Implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA)


    These solutions are often referred to as “Software Robots” or Virtual workers and either reside on a Server or desktop. Robotic Process Automation is particularly strong at automating high volume manual and repetitive task manuals quickly and efficiently. As the RPA industry matures RPA tools incorporate principles and technologies from other approaches such as BPM. However the focus is less on optimising processes and more about removing manual and repetitive tasks from your workforce.

  • Bespoke Scripting & Application Development


    These are dedicated pieces of software written by software developers to perform business specific automation tasks. These result in highly specialised software which perform a specific tasks for the business. These techniques were traditionally used to deliver a single monolithic application as a solution to Process Automation projects. Since these were typically developed form scratch they required very significant amounts of development resources. Software development is a highly skilled role which is often in short supply which makes it one of the most expensive IT resources.  A single bespoke development also makes for a very inflexible solution, which requires expensive development resources to make any changes.

    There are however times when a business requirement is so bespoke there is no better way to implement it than bespoke development. Modern automation projects typically only use bespoke development is used when there are no other options. However it typically only forms a small part of the overall solution. Usually a BPM Workflow engine acts as the conductor, coordinating the process and the bespoke development is a single specialist instrument in the orchestra called upon only when needed. These maintain some of the BPM flexibility and allows the bespoke development to vastly simplified.

Business Process Outsourcing / Hybrid Automation

Whilst outsourcing isn’t a form of Process Automation, it is a way of getting access to automation and the benefits of it. Businesses use specialist outsourcing providers to buy outcomes or tasks as a service, allowing them to get access to best practice capabilities across people, process and technology for non-core operations

Find out more about Outsourcing here.

Which Approach to Process Automation is Right for you?

Importantly there isn’t a one size fits all or best approach to Process Automation. The answer is that it depends on you, your business priorities, your requirements and the context of your operations today across People, Process and Technology.

Before losing yourself in the world of process automation solutions and applications, Read our 5 golden rules to process automation success. It a great starting point – and will keep you focussed and grounded.

More Information & How Can We Help?

We offer no-obligation expert assessments, consultations to help you identify the right solution for your organisation. To find out more or to book a consultation, please call +44 (0)1962 835053, email, or fill in the form below.

Thank you for your interest, we look forward to working with you.

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