Technology

BPA is not just AP Automation

Recently I attended a business networking event and, as you’d expect, the question “So what do you do?” was asked.  I gave much the same answer as I’ve given hundreds of times before in that situation and my elevator pitch included the words, ‘business process automation’ (BPA).  The person I was speaking with quickly replied with something along the lines of, “Oh, we are all sorted in that area.  We already scan our invoices”.  Now in the moment I naturally began to paint a picture of AP Automation being more than just scanning invoices.  However thinking about that conversation in retrospect some days later, I realised that that there was perhaps a larger assumption that I had left unaddressed.  That assumption prompts the question: “When did Business Process Automation become a synonym for Accounts Payable (AP) Automation?”.

It’s no secret that AP Automation is a popular project for organisations looking to find efficiencies in their back-office processes, however BPA is not just some marketing catch phrase for AP Automation.  Sure, in a sales conversation it’s the example often reached for given that it crosses almost all businesses, it isn’t industry specific terminology, and it is a common challenge most businesses face.  However, it’s an example that’s been used so much that its now polluted the meaning of Business Process Automation to the point where that’s the instant word association people have.   Organisations are getting so blinded by the example being used to illustrate the larger concept that they are losing sight of the concept itself.  This is perhaps compounded by some vendors who are conflating the terminology in an effort to appear cleverer than they are.  The end result is that companies have heard about AP Automation so much they developed BPA sales fatigue. The unfortunate outcome is that they are now missing out on the efficiency gains other Business Process Automation projects could deliver for their organisation.

So, in an effort to help reclaim the phrase “Business Process Automation”, here are three quick examples of other non-AP business requirements that a BPA project could deliver.  While granted some of these may be industry specific solutions, and of course they are document focused processes, I nevertheless challenge you to see past the specific document types and envisage how the underlying solution would apply to your business.

 

Onboarding
Whether onboarding customers, suppliers, patients, students, staff, or even sub-contractors; onboarding a third party into your line of business applications generally requires a myriad of forms, supporting documentation, checks & validations, and some form of approval.

Business Process Automation looks at:

  • the information you need to gather
    eg.: How the information comes into your organisation
  • how that information is validated
    eg.: Reference checks, database look-ups, etc
  • how the decisions are made based on that information including who makes the decision
    eg.: which applicant to hire, who your preferred supplier will be, delegated authority levels, etc
  • how the information is then ingested into your system of choice

 

Compliance
Compliance paperwork is usually all about making sure that your business is following all the rules, laws, guidelines and regulations around how you provide your products and services to your markets.  Depending on your industry, this paperwork manifests in different ways and often there is quite a lot of it.

For example, if you are in the business of exporting food products to other countries there are all manner of MPI and biosecurity related certifications needed at both the port of exit as well as the port of entry.  Whereas if you are in the construction industry compliance might mean Health & Safety.  It could be the way in which your subcontractors are inducted to sites, daily hazard briefings, incident forms, or even the library of sub-contractor H&S Policies you need to keep.

However compliance is satisfied in your industry, you can be certain that involves not only the gathering of various documents from multiple sources, but also on the searchability, retrievability and auditability of those documents.

 

Contract Management
Contracts form the basis of many of business relationships organisations undertaken with outside parties.  From suppliers to customers, sub-contractors to service providers, the scope and nature of these legal documents can be wide and varied.  Business Process Automation can add efficiencies to all steps of the contract lifecycle by providing visibility into the status of individual contracts, while also providing organisation level reporting.

A Business Process Automation project could be used to manage:

  • new contracts requests
  • data capture
  • document creation
  • review & negotiation
  • approval
  • digital signatures
  • execution KPI’s
  • going reviews
  • renewals

 

So as I’ve illustrated, Business Process Automation is not just a fancy name for scanning invoices.  If your AP Invoice processes are your current frustration, then we are only too happy to have a chat about them.  However, if your pain-point is something else entirely, let’s not get mired in financial jargon.  Let’s focus on the real challenges your business is facing.  Furthermore, let’s uncover the path forward and take the journey of business process automation together.

If you would like to have a chat about how we can help with your BPA project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Kris Elliott
Solution Sales Executive
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