Business Process Automation

Business Process Automation with SharePoint

Are you looking to improve accountability, transparency and record data accurately using SharePoint? Or are you looking for business process automation using SharePoint? Then you should read this article. 

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Are You Looking To Improve Accountability, Transparency And Record Data Accurately Using SharePoint? Or Are You Looking For Business Process Automation Using SharePoint? Then You Should Read This Article. 

Well, here is what you need to know.

The survey of Research and Markets estimates the market size of Global Business Process Automation to reach $19.4 billion by 2026. With an increase of 13.2 % CAGR market growth every year. 

Is your company part of this digital transformation? According to Forrester research, the pace of automation across industries is languid. 

Companies that are more focused on the automation of their business processes are reducing their costs. 

Organisations are moving to automation is a significant shift, as these companies understand that digital transformation is the right way forward to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.

It should come as no surprise that COVID-19 has widened the gap between companies that adopted business automation and the companies caught off guard by the pandemic.

Definition

Business Process Automation (BPA) – Using technology to automate complex and simple business processes and functions. Business Process Automation focuses on running the business in the meantime keeping its people free to think creatively. BPA helps the employees to focus on their work and their skills instead of worrying about the procedures. 

According to Wikipedia, BPA helps organisations streamline their business for simplicity, achieve digital transformation, increase service quality, improve service delivery, and contain costs.

More CEO’s and CIO’s are turning to business process automation to eliminate tedious tasks, freeing corporate workers to focus on higher-value work.

You should start thinking about automation when you have problems following compliances, or repetitive tasks are wasting a lot of time for your employees! Automation also helps in improving customer service and executing your marketing campaigns.

When you want to improve the morale of your employees, automation helps enhance your employees’ confidence by providing a friction-free environment for them to work—letting their creative skills and time for innovation.

When you want to create a transparent and thriving culture, providing transparency in the organisation help employee focus on achieving the strategic and financial goals of the company.

When should you think about business process automation

Why We Recommend Business Process Automation

Business process automation tackles repetitive, mundane tasks of business and streamlines the process. 

Benefits of business process automation

BPA With SharePoint Benefits

Reduce Cost

Business process automation can eliminate human errors, stop costs leaks and improving customer satisfaction.

BPA helps free the most valuable resources from redundant tasks and productively use their time to generate direct value.

Business process automation reduces the costs directly and indirectly by improving the utilisation of resources efficiently and indirectly by enhancing the organisation’s customer satisfaction and morale.

Increase Efficiency

Once you automate a business process, you start a process and forget, which means that only the person involved in that part of the process needs to worry about it. 

Further, quickly identify bottlenecks or waste(action or step that doesn’t add value to the organisation) in the process and eliminated them. All of these contribute to increasing the efficiency of the organisation.

Increases Consistency

Humans Are Known To Make Mistakes; Inconsistency Increases With Redundancy And Triviality Of The Task. According To Airport Council International 

12 common human errors which affect consistency are 

  • Lack of communication
  • Distraction
  • Lack of resources
  • Stress
  • Complacency
  • Lack of teamwork
  • Pressure
  • Lack of awareness
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Norms

BPA helps overcome human inconsistencies

Improve Customer Service

Cost of customer acquisition is going up by the day, wich competition and increasing cost of marketing. Improving customer service can help to keep customers happy hence not losing them.

It’s also easier to retain customers than to acquire new ones. Business process automation in customer service helps you keep customers. On one end, you help seal your old customers; at the other end, these satisfied customers become advocates of your brand and company by recommending others to your business.

When you automate customer points of contact with your company before and after, sales can improve your customer’s overall experience.

Business process automation ensures that you can delight your customers at their touchpoints with your company.

Process Improvement

For continuous improvement, you always need to audit your processes and find out the areas which don’t provide value to the beneficiary of the functions. Once your processes are automated, auditing them becomes more effortless, and this helps in improving them eventually.

Compliances

Companies are required to be compliant with industry and legal regulations. If your company fails, it can be a very costly affair in fines and legal compensations.

By automating your compliance processes, the software runs the process and keeps a log of all necessary parameters. Logging of process execution information is very helpful during an audit trial.

Keeping proper logs of activities and responsible individuals can help your organisation demonstrate compliance when the need arrives.

Workflow automation circumvents the possibilities of non-compliance by making it mandatory for the employees to follow all the steps.

Process that every organisation should automate

If you are new to business process automation, below is a list of business processes in HR and Finance Departments that you can automate. 

Human Resources

  • Employee Onboarding
  • Leave Application
  • Employee Off-Boarding

Finance

  • Expense Approval
  • Invoice Processing
  • Budget Planning
  • KYC Data Collection & Management
  • Procurement & Backoffice
  • Forecasting

SharePoint as a Business Automation tool

Microsoft has been a pioneer in providing solutions that accelerate time to value, speed up innovation and drive benefits for your customers, employees and organisation.

M365 comes bundled with power automation and power apps in their package with a vision to make SharePoint one of the feature-rich document and process automation tools

Online Office 365 or Microsoft365 makes it affordable so that even small companies can get value out of business process automation. 

SharePoint now doesn’t work as a standalone application. SharePoint works with the entire Office 365 (now Microsoft 365 suite). That’s what makes SharePoint one of the best tools to automate your business processes.

BPA SharePoint as a BPA tool

Standard business processes in an organisation that can be automated using SharePoint

BPA Document Approval

Document approval workflow

Content creation and its management is one of the everyday activities in any organisation. Created content gets approved and then gets consumed. 

Automation of document processes helps with the routing of documents for approval and consumption. Automation ensures that you can log details for future audits and make people accountable.

Intelligent Information Management

Intelligent information management means you need to think that your organisation should start thinking about data AND content and not data OR content. 

So when you implement business processes into your organisations, you need to handle both data and content to structure your organisation’s information. 

Well handled data and content ensure that your digital transformation journey is beneficial to your organisation to the people working in your organisation, and the people interacting.

Icon BPA Intelligent Information Management System

Microsoft office 365 and SharePoint help you handle this by 

  1. Helping you manage information (data and content) in the way your organisation wants it, understands it and consumes it.
  2. Digital transformation requires a top-down as well as a bottom-up strategy. SharePoint, with its numerous features, helps you do just that.
  3. Information management is not a one time job; it’s a continuous process. SharePoint is a perfect tool to adopt day-to-day operations which are information-intensive and automate them. Slowly automating these daily processes is the precondition to digitally transforming your business.
  4. SharePoint helps you manage metadata so well that you can slowly transform your business from a storage mindset to an application mindset. With its capability to handle metadata, SharePoint helps you build some structure around your information, allowing your employees and others associated with your organisation to find information quickly. A single repository is not the solution to properly manage data correctly, and SharePoint understands that.
BPA Reporting Automation Icon

Automating Reporting Using SharePoint

Data provides essential information to the leadership to make the right decisions. But data as such is not usable.

Reports and dashboards help leadership visualise data logically. Reports help the administration find causes of a problem and make quick decisions. 

Business reporting ensures and promotes transparency in your organisation. 

With SharePoint and Power BI, you can analyse your data and create visually friendly dashboards. 

Generate reports on time by automating reports. The people who consume those reports to make decisions get it on time.

We can ensure that critical data points are stored and converted to reports later during the automation of other processes. 

Asset Management In Microsoft Office 365 & SharePoint

You can use SharePoint to organise and coordinate your organisation’s activities and get value from your organisation’s assets. 

With SharePoint lists and libraries, you can maintain all the assets within your organisation.,

BPA in asset management helps your organisation track the assets with fewer person-hours involved. 

Automation helps avoid errors in asset management; usually, organisations use Microsoft Excel to handle all of this. As a byproduct of automating asset management, you can keep your assets and their information well organised. Automation of asset management automatically brings accuracy in every step of the lifecycle of that asset. 

You can ease the burden of audits of assets with proper maintenance.

Automation helps your company to do more with less. By introducing workflows and removing redundant tasks from your asset management, you help free up time for your employees and help them be more productive.

BPA for Asset Management using SharePoint
BPA Accounting automation with SharePoint

Accounting & Purchasing Approvals In SharePoint

There are many activities in accounting and purchasing in any organisation that require approval from the concerned authority. 

SharePoint can help speed up the process by using the approval workflow. Automating consent for documents makes things easier for the person seeking approval. 

The approver will also get a notification with all information needed to authorise the purchase or the account activity.

Records Management

The purpose of Records Management or Records & Information management is to manage information in an organisation. 

You can manage information from the time of creation or capture to its eventual disposal. 

The information needs to be identified, classified, stored, secured, retrieved, retrieved, tracked and destroyed permanently or archived for future use during this process.

Microsoft Office 365 & SharePoint provides inbuilt features to manage records in your organisation. 

Records can be managed in SharePoint as Inplace Records Management or using the SharePoint Records Center. 

Records Management
Records Management

HR Information And Self-Service System

With its capability to store information, SharePoint can help you provide your employees with access to personal data and documents and keep them up-to-date with minimal effort.

SharePoint can automate the following HR processes helping HR departments make routine tasks easier for employees.

  • Onboarding
  • Training
  • vacation approvals
  • help desk
  • Knowledge and learning management system
  • Corporate Communication

Streamlining And Automating Correspondence

Every business or organisation communicates with other organisations and internal departments by exchanging letters, emails, documents or any other form of written communication.

SharePoint can help you digitise your correspondences.

To learn more about correspondence management solutions in SharePoint

 

BPA Correspondence Management Icon
SharePoint Intranet Portal

Corporate Intranet Portal

You can configure Microsoft SharePoint as an intranet portal< that provides a world-class enterprise portal platform to run your organisation intranet portals.

An intranet portal solution is a restricted computer network that helps 

  • connect individuals within the organisation
  • drives employee engagement, 
  • provides access to business-critical information at all times. 

Read more about our SharePoint Portal solutions.

How SharePoint Delivers - More Bang For Every Dollar Spent On SharePoint

The pointers below will provide you with a guideline on how to get the most from your SharePoint.

  1. Think of SharePoint is a platform, not an application – 
  2. SharePoint is a business tool, and approach it as such
  3. Implementation of SharePoint should be a leadership objective, not an employee objective. Proper management of enterprise content only gives benefits in the long run. 
  4. Have a long term Enterprise Content Goal in mind and slowly use SharePoint to attain those goals
  5. Use third party solutions only to bridge the gap between SharePoint features and the ECM objectives you have in mind. 
  6. Invest in training and making SharePoint more user friendly. It’s the knowledge workers who are going to feed information into the system.
  7. Have proper information management and governance policies in place. Information governance  

Features In SharePoint Which Helps Business Process Automation

SharePoint has evolved as an enterprise content management platform through the years. Microsoft office 365 with SharePoint has all the tools for collaboration and to automate your document processes.

SharePoint features for BPA
BPA Alerts

SharePoint Alerts

A simple alert can help you improve your legacy processes. Alerts and notifications enable participants of a workflow to be aware of the task that needs to be done by them to move the workflow forward. Email and text notifications ensure people are held accountable for getting things done.

BPA Workflow Automation

Build Workflows In SharePoint Using Power Apps, And Power Automate

Ever Wondered How You Can Create Apps For Your Business Without A Single Line Of Code?

SharePoint comes bundled with Power Apps and Power Automate, which helps you do precisely that.

Power Apps creates apps to streamline business tasks. Business logic and workflow capabilities convert the business into a digital and automated process. 

In comparison, Power Automate automates workflows, files, notifications between apps.

Integration of SharePoint with tools like Power Apps, Power Automate is a boost to automation. 

You can develop apps in SharePoint using Power Apps. 

Power Automate syncs the workflow to Power Apps. These tools are easy to handle, integrate and increases your speed of working on Sharepoint. 

Delegation for Business Process automation with SharePoint

Tasks

Handling the tasks of your people in the organisation is very important. 

SharePoint offers three ways of managing tasks. These are robust and built-in out-of-box solutions. 

  1. Web-based tasks management.
  2. SharePoint tasks list with MS Project.
  3. Manage tasks using Outlook.

Tasks are a list of items to be done. The time and date attached to the task are presented as a timeline on SharePoint. The visual effect by SharePoint gives an overview of your priorities and tasks.

Content

Content approval feature

The content approval feature helps in verifying the quality of the content.

By approving the content, you can make sure the viewers of the range get the correct information.

The approval process ensures that the content creator has provided the proper metadata for the information provided.

With appropriate metadata in place, content is easily searchable by the consumers of the content. 

SharePoint Out of The box

SharePoint out of the box workflows

  • Approval (route a document or item for approval or rejection)
  • Collect Feedback (route a document or article for feedback)
  • Collect Signatures (route a document, workbook, or form for digital signatures)
  • Three-State (track an issue, project, or task through three states or phases)
  • Publishing Approval (automate content routing for review and approval)
Delegation for Business Process automation with SharePoint

Delegation

Features like delegation are essential for apps and SharePoint portals. To retain the app’s performance, Power Apps delegates the functions to the data source for few operations. 

For example, if the app fetches data up to 500 records (a changeable limit), a warning is displayed as the powerful function and is delegated to the source. This means the amount of data brought to the devices in a single fetch is limited. There are some functions of SharePoint where the task is delegated to the database. Delegation works well when the data to be fetched huge.

Best Practices For Business Process Automation

Automating business processes, as discussed above, generates its returns soon. But implementation of business process automation is not easy. Here we will document some of the best practices that you can follow to ensure the incident-free performance of BPA. 

Be a tortoise – while adopting automation, it’s better to be a tortoise than a rabbit. Every business has its own culture and values. People perceive automation differently. They might have a feeling that automation can cost them their job, 

Automation is good for the management and the users equally, but it’s vital that they feel it. 

Slowly bringing in automation also helps you to test the effects of automation by taking regular feedback. Improvement comes from figuring out process waste and eliminating them.

Figure out if SharePoint is the right tool for your automation – Automation is business-specific, and figuring out SharePoint is the right tool to automate all your processes is vital. 

Access to SharePoint at the right by all the people involved in the automation is essential. SharePoint has its capabilities and limitations. Identifying the gaps is very important and determining how to bridge these gaps is also equally important.

Phase it out with automation roadmaps, goals and KPIs – It’s always important to set up automation goals and try to achieve them and measure the ROI on the automation. 

Automation done without measurements can lead to overspends and less ROI.

Chart out the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Contributor, Informed) matrix – Automation results in a change of roles. Some people’s roles might change or be swapped.  Some positions might have to take up additional responsibilities to overcome the challenges of these changes. And unfortunately, some functions might need to be removed too.

It’s always better to chart out the processes using Business Process mapping software and swim lanes to identify the people involved in executing the processes.

Involve everyone – Business Process automation success lies in collaboration. Involve people when you are planning automation. 

Involving people will help them embrace change with knowledge of the purpose behind the change.

Empathise with people – Be empathetic to people’s resistance to change, suggestions and feedback. Remember, automation can never be successful without the people who are working in it.

Train users – Train the users with mock-up screens and real case scenarios. 

They must learn to use the software used for automation. That’s where an intuitive, user-friendly interface is essential.

Conclusion

Using SharePoint as a Business Process Automation platform to automate your document workflow can result in a good return on investment, provided you do it right the first time. 

SharePoint can help you streamline your processes, integrate your content and drive collaboration between people. 

Once you start the automation, you can think about improving your processes. 

When it comes to working with content automation and making content available to the right people most intuitively and efficiently, SharePoint is one of the best tools available in the market.

Book a free consultation

Neologix Software Solution has years of experience in helping our customers automate business processes and improve business efficiency. 

Get in touch with us to learn how our other customers leverage Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint (with power automate and power apps) to automate their business processes. 

Reduce costs and save time with SharePoint business process automation.