Harnessing the Potential of Business Process Automation 

Harnessing the Potential of Business Process Automation 

When most people think of “automation”, they think of robots and machines in factories. Indeed, the latest wave of the industrial revolution – known as Industry 4.0 – is primarily powered by the use of automation in the workforce.

However, it’s not those machines that are doing the bulk of the automation heavy lifting – it’s software.

In recent years, Business Process Automation or BPA has become a lifeline for businesses looking to improve efficiency and cut costs.

One tool that stands out in this domain is Microsoft Power Automate, a versatile and powerful automation platform. From automating mundane tasks to orchestrating complex workflows involving multiple systems, Power Automate is a useful catalyst for organisational efficiency.

Join us as we delve into the world of Business Process Automation, with a special focus on Microsoft Power Automate. We will explore its key benefits, common use cases, and best practices, and provide a roadmap for you to embark on your own automation journey.

What is Business Process Automation?

The work of streamlining operations and improving efficiency largely comes down to reducing the time, effort or cost of undertaking business tasks or processes. By processes, we mean any action or set of activities that are used to meet a specific business objective.

These are commonly repeatable, mundane tasks like sending emails, data entry or handing invoices. But, these can certainly be complex, multi-step actions that require reasoning and decision-making too.

Business Process Automation (BPA) simply refers to the use of software to automate these functions.

A classic example of BPA in action is automating the onboarding process of a new hire. Once a new hire is confirmed, BPA tools automatically populate the necessary systems (HRIS, email, payroll, etc.) with the new hire’s information.

How many times have you started a new job to find that your IT account hasn’t been set up? What if this was automated so that a request is sent to the IT department as soon as a new hire is confirmed?

What are the benefits of Business Process Automation?

Business Process Automation (BPA) stands as a powerful ally for organisations aiming to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Here are some of the most compelling benefits of implementing BPA:

  • Saves time: By delegating repetitive, rule-based tasks to automated systems, employees are free to dedicate their time to tasks that demand critical analysis, innovation, or a personal touch. Also, software can complete repeatable tasks more quickly than humans can.
  • Reduces human error: For repetitive tasks, humans make mistakes, while correctly configured machines do not. With BPA, companies can ensure that their processes are carried out with a higher degree of accuracy and consistency.
  • Improve flexibility and scalability: As a business grows, its processes can become more complex. BPA allows these processes to scale smoothly, adapting as the business evolves without requiring a proportional increase in resources.

Introducing Microsoft Power Automate

Looking for a business process automation suite that integrates with the apps you already use? Power Automate is Microsoft’s cloud-based BPA offering.

It is designed to automate repetitive tasks and business processes, making it easier for users to create workflows that help them to work more efficiently and effectively.

Automated processes are configured as flows, an organisation of task “building blocks”.

These flows allow you to automate workflows between modern cloud-based services using APIs.

Microsoft brands its platform as “automation for anyone”. From novice business users to seasoned developers, Power Automate’s no-code/low-code platform allows anyone to easily craft automated processes.

Common Use Cases

Power Automate is a useful tool for any industry. Let’s discuss some useful examples of the platform in action!

Finance: Expense Approval Workflow

Traditionally, the process of sending expense and invoice requests to a finance team is long-winded and time-consuming.

With Power Automate, this complex, multi-step problem can be simplified. Here’s how:

  • A Power Apps form can be used to collect expense requests: Instead of collecting requests through email or a spreadsheet, employees can fill out a web form created and attach receipts directly to the form.
  • Details are automatically inserted into an Excel spreadsheet: Then, the entered data is inserted into an expense tracking sheet. The finance team is then notified there is a request to approve.
  • The approval process may be automated using rules: Not every expense request needs manual approval. If the request meets set criteria, it can be automatically approved. With the new AI tools, you can even train a model to predict suspicious activity or recognise text in receipts and invoices.
  • Automate communication: Power Automate can automatically send emails with approval outcomes or ask for more details.

Customer Service: Automating Customer Interactions

Automating the assignment of customer support tickets ensures that each ticket is handled by the most appropriate agent, based on their expertise, current workload, or other factors.

This not only streamlines the customer service process but also helps to improve response times and customer satisfaction.

How does this work?

  • Ticket Creation and Categorisation: When a customer submits a support request through a web form, email, or other channels, Power Automate can create a new ticket in your CRM tool like Dynamics 365.
    • The flow can also categorise the ticket based on the customer’s input (e.g., technical issue, billing question, etc.).
  • Agent Assignment: Power Automate can then analyse the ticket information and current agent workloads (potentially using data from Microsoft Teams or an HR system) to determine who should handle it.
    • For example, if the ticket is a technical issue, the flow could assign it to an agent with technical expertise.
  • Escalation: If a ticket is not resolved within a predefined timeframe, Power Automate can escalate the issue by re-assigning it to a higher-level agent or sending an alert to a manager. This ensures that critical issues are not overlooked.
  • Reporting and Analysis: Power Automate can also be set up to generate regular reports on ticket volumes, resolution times, and agent performance, using Power BI to visualise and analyse the data.

Maximising ROI with Power Automate by Working with an MSP

Power Automate offers a ton of useful tools for automating workflows, streamlining your processes and ultimately improving your profitability.

How can you ensure you’re getting the most out of Power Automate? We recommend working with a trusted managed service provider (MSP) to plan and implement your Business Process Automation strategy.

We can perform a process audit, finding which workflows are ripe for automation. We’ll then walk you through the capabilities of the platform and help you build the perfect flows.

While Power Automation’s low-code flow creator is reasonably accessible, it can take a lot of time and skill to create the most efficient complex automation.

Ready to streamline your processes and boost your ROI? Contact us today to see how we can help.