How to get the full value of business process automation

Business process automation automates high volume, low complexity tasks allowing your team to focus on what matters. And people are eager for change: In a poll of 14,500 UK workers, 86% said they embraced the implementation of automation in their workplace, while 73% said they had an open mindset towards digital transformation1.

Business process automation

For years, people have feared the looming threat of automation, arguing it is likely to replace jobs rather than create them. But the tide is turning. Technology like AI has been normalised; nowadays, we all rely on digital devices inside and outside of work. Even more so with the arrival of hybrid working. 

The future of work is about challenging outdated practices. Your people don’t want to be mired in repetitive processes anymore, they are digital natives aware of the positive impact technology can bring.  

So, if you haven’t looked into how automation could enhance your critical operations, improve employee engagement and accelerate business growth, now is the time. In this article, I’ll share how you can start that journey in right way, and optimise the value of process automation. 

What is business process automation? 

Business process automation uses software to automate multi-step business transactions like accounts payable or employee onboarding. We call it automation because the software is programmed to mimic repetitive steps humans take and intelligently process data from multiple digital and paper-based sources.

Which processes are ideal for business process automation? 

Labour intensive document management tasks provide the perfect environment for automation. It doesn’t matter what the process is called or how sector specific you think it is, a process that will benefit from automation has a few familiar hallmarks. 

Watch out for the processes that typically involve multiple email threads, documents and approvals. Where even a minor human error has the potential to cause a cascade of inefficiency, bottlenecks, and missed deadlines. The tasks which must be done correctly, every time, or you risk losing a customer, damaging your reputation, infringing compliance laws or obscuring your ability to forecast finances effectively. 

Automation transforms outcomes for processes that rely on reams of paper-based documents and large volumes of data that has to be captured, collated and called upon frequently by your team. Maybe you’re always hearing complaints from staff about the antiquity and speed of your current system – these are the processes that should be identified, dissected and automated using specialist software. They hold the key to unlocking hidden value. 

The benefits of business process automation 

60% of employees spend more time searching for files than replying to emails2

By putting automation in place, you empower your people to organise, secure, capture, digitise, tag and approve documents with ease, limiting human error, saving time and reducing cost. Providing a more intuitive and straightforward experience, can also help you retain and nurture high-value employees who prioritise efficient working methods. 

Enhance accuracy and reporting facilities 

For business leaders, automating critical processes enhances decision-making capability by providing accuracy, faster responses and real-time reporting. Putting your business in a more agile position and giving you the resilience and visibility to make changes if necessary. Having the ability to run critical operations quicker and with more control, also makes it easier to grow your business. And if you’re switching from paper to digital in multiple areas, you stand to improve your sustainability numbers too. 

53% of employees experience delays waiting for information to be updated across multiple systems from multiple departments3

By using automation software, you will also be able to offer immediate and self-service access to the information your customers need. Likewise, your people can access intelligence on their customers quicker and easier through cloud storage, enabling them to provide tailored customer service. 

How to approach automation? 

Once you have identified which processes are suitable for automation, you need to have the right mindset to move forward. There are a few fundamental rules of automation to remember:

  • You can’t automate until you have mapped how your process works and where the data is captured. If the process doesn’t work or is incomplete, your automation won’t work. 
  • Process automation isn’t about one piece of technology. There’s no single technology that delivers universal benefits, and it takes a combination of solutions and a layered strategy to deliver results. 
  • You don’t need to transform entire processes from day one. In many cases, automating one essential step can unlock immense value. 

Choose Ricoh for Business Process Management 

Bringing a specialist partner on board to fast-track business process automation will ensure you implement solutions that truly solve the challenges you and your workforce face. With an objective vantage point, we start by getting to know the needs of your business, your processes and your people. Then, by working closely with your teams, we design digital workflows that apply process automation – making your business more intelligent, your employees more satisfied, and your customers happier. 

Discover more about our solutions. We can help you with bespoke process automation services and single software applications like DocuWare, which can automate all document management from accounts payable and order fulfilment to inbound mail. 

Ricoh’s experience in traditional working practices positions us well to bridge the gap between the old world and the new world. Our leading principle of powering fulfilment through work also means our people are passionate about enhancing workplace experiences. Contact our team to find out more.





Chris Wheeler

Head of Workflow & CIP Solutions at Ricoh UK

Read all articles by Chris Wheeler