Technology has enabled businesses to change and improve the way they do things. Business process automation (BPA), for instance, is becoming more prevalent in a variety of industries including the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
Gartner defines business process automation as “the automation of complex business processes and functions beyond the conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through the use of advanced technologies.” BPO services are being touted as the perfect candidates for automation given the fact that outsourcing companies deal with high levels of standardization in their processes and activities.
A well-thought-out business process automation system will benefit businesses in terms of streamlining and accelerating processes, providing audit trails, tying multiple business systems or application interfaces, improving data gathering and decision making, which will provide significant time and cost savings.
Businesses looking to automate their services may choose to do it themselves. However, one of the easiest ways to do so is via business process outsourcing. Before embracing automation though, there are several factors that need to be considered.
Understanding of Automation
Businesses looking to automate their processes need to fully understand this undertaking because of the financial factors involved in the deal. While it is true that businesses that automate through BPOs can benefit from increased margins, it is imperative to first determine if it is the right strategy for the business.
To truly understand the implications of automation, businesses must conduct a thorough analysis of their organization to determine if it is the best way to increase productivity and give the company a competitive edge. If so, they also need to determine how much and which of their BPO services should be automated.
Automation provides clear financial benefits but it also comes with a price. Investments can be expensive in the short run, but if the implementation is successful, it will eventually pay off in the long run.
It is important to note though that as new technological advancements come in, the economies of scale that give BPOs their price edge will wash away, giving businesses an opportunity to use multiple service providers if they wish. The challenge here though lies on whether the business has the capability to monitor multiple service providers at the same time.
Some business are concerned about how often new technologies come along, which may render their systems and their investments irrelevant. Thus, they’d rather wait for the ultimate one to come along before taking the plunge. However, the most important thing to remember is that automation should only be done when the timing is right and that only comes after the business fully understands their pain points and have conducted thorough testing.
Businesses need to develop ways of monitoring performance and measuring the success of their BPO partnerships. This will enable them to focus not only on the costs involved but more so on the quality of service being provided. Due diligence must be practiced before and after the BPA deal to protect all parties concerned.
Working with a third-party always involves some form or risk for the business. Risk factors must be considered prior to making any decisions to avoid significant damages to the organization’s reputation and bottom line. Developing a risk management program will help manage risks pertaining to the contract, the vendor and the program itself.
Businesses should expect that automation will cause changes to the organization’s culture and working environment. These changes, if not monitored and managed properly, can cause productivity loss, disruptions, demotivation among employees among others. To avoid this, businesses must then employ appropriate change management practices to help them manage the challenges brought about by the BPA.
Business looking to gain a competitive edge over their competitors can do so via business process automation but they don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with BPOs can make the process of automation faster and easier for them.