Automate Your Workflow Management with Lightico
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Businesses now understand that serving today’s digital customers requires more than mere point solutions, such as standalone eSignatures or eForms. To achieve the highest levels of agility, efficiency, and customer-centricity, businesses need to automate full workflows. Business process management (BPM) is an essential part of enacting a true digital transformation.
In this guide, we will explore how no-code BPM can help businesses achieve their goals, and how tools such as document process automation and robotic process automation relate.
What is Business Process Management?
Business process management (BPM) is a way of looking at and then controlling the processes that are present in an organization. It is an effective methodology to use in times of crisis to make certain that the processes are efficient and effective, as this will result in a better and more cost-efficient organization.
The term business process management covers how we study, identify, change, and monitor business processes to ensure they run smoothly and can be improved over time. Workflow automation fits under the umbrella of business process management, and is critical to the success of the organization, since poor processes lead to information silos and inefficiencies.
BPM is best thought of as a business practice, encompassing techniques and structured methods. It is not a technology, though there are technologies on the market such as workflow automation that support it. These technologies help identify and modify existing processes with the goal of improving future results. It is about formalizing and institutionalizing better ways for work to get done.
Successfully employing BPM usually involves the following:
- Organizing around outcomes not tasks to ensure the proper focus is maintained
- Correcting and improving processes before (potentially) automating them; otherwise, all you’ve done is make the mess run faster
- Establishing processes and assigning ownership lest the work and improvements simply drift away – and they will, as human nature takes over and the momentum peters out
- Standardizing processes across the enterprise so they can be more readily understood and managed, errors reduced, and risks mitigated
- Enabling continuous change so the improvements can be extended and propagated over time
- Improving existing processes, rather than building radically new or “perfect” ones, because that can take so long as to erode or negate any gains achieved
BPM should not be a one-time exercise. It should involve a continuous evaluation of the processes and include taking actions to improve the total flow of processes. This all leads to a continuous cycle of evaluating and improving the organization.
An Overview of No-Code Business Process Management
Industry goals for BPM are changing quickly. With more and more businesses considering customer-obsession a core part of their larger digital transformation goals, digitizing all business functions is becoming imperative.
Traditional business process management requires a great deal of manual involvement on the backend. Here are some of the reasons why businesses may want to think twice before installing software that requires coding. Such systems are:
- Expensive: Hiring expensive developers to write complex code and build workflows is very expensive. According to some estimates, an on-premise solution can cost over $250,000 including the technology and consulting costs.
- Creates dependency on IT: Business managers are forced to turn to their IT department every time they want to make changes to workflows. This means that the people who know the processes best are disconnected and cut off from the workflows.
- Slow: Traditional BPM tools require process owners to put in requests to developers and IT personnel, significantly prolonging the time to launch. By the time such workflows are launched, they may no longer be relevant.
- Not agile: Rapidly changing customer needs and regulatory requirements require businesses to make immediate adjustments without delay. But code-dependent BPM tools make this an impossibility.
On the other hand, a workflow automation solution that allows no-code business process management can make the transition to customer-first digitization easier, not harder. Many of today’s businesses prefer no-code BPM solutions that require zero IT involvement. Such solutions empower the business to seamlessly deploy forms, documents, and workflows without any code.
Here are some of the biggest advantages of using a no-code BPM tool:
- Empowers users: Process owners can easily add automated steps and business rules in minutes — with zero dependency on IT or developers.
- Supports streamlined processes: With real-time dashboards on every process, actionable insights, dynamic reporting, process optimization, and visual process design, businesses can access everything they need to design better workflows in one place.
- Enables agility: Dynamic routing to the right team members, flexible business rules, ad hoc item reassignment, and agile deployment allows process owners to adapt their workflows to real-life conditions and requirements.
- Built for convenience: While every no-code BPM has some variations, the vast majority are known for their intuitive and attractive interface, and ability to access information from multiple device types. All ensure that forms can be tweaked and enhanced with zero coding effort.
- Powerful: A no-code BPM tool is in many cases even more robust than traditional BPM tools. Automated assignments and escalations, extensive APIs, integration of workflows with third-party systems, SLA monitoring, and task-level management are all commonly found in no-code solutions.
- Collaborative: Wherever team members are working from, they can collaborate around process-based activities, assign tasks, share documents internally, and get instant notifications on relevant tasks.
No-code BPM tools can allow companies to keep up with a dynamic business environment while saving both time and money.
Business Process Management Examples
1. Account Onboarding
With BPM, the time needed for approval for account openings goes from days to minutes. The automated and consistent process dramatically decreases account abandonment rates and increases customer satisfaction. Companies also experience a rise in new applications and a significant drop in operational costs.
2. Data Alignment
Most businesses have accumulated multiple technological tools over time. This often requires manually entering data into multiple applications. Extracting information from such systems is also a challenge both for general inquiries and standardized reporting. All of this limits the business’s ability to optimize processes and ensure scalability. BPM can help ensure data is automatically aligned, avoiding silos and maintenance costs.
3. P&C Insurance Claims
With BPM, property and casualty insurance companies have the process visibility and control needed to ensure that the right contractor is assigned, that repairs happen smoothly, that the customer is satisfied, and that proper internal and customer reporting occurs at each stage.
4. Streamlining Compliance Procedures
Especially in the financial sector, BPM can be used to document processes according to compliance guidelines, identify potential risks, and raise and monitor issues. BPM is able to consolidate all audit information within a single digital interface to better ensure compliance and avoid risk exposure.
5. Health Insurance
A case management system based on BPM can make it easier to provide health insurance coverage options across the US. BPM can streamline tasks such as intake, routing, review, and troubleshooting of applications submitted for enrollment.
6. Loan Originations
In a short period, companies’ entire loan origination system can be moved from a paper-based system to a completely automated and digital one. With BPM. employees gain back valuable time and resources previously spent filling out and printing paper-based forms.
What Are the Stages of Business Process Management?
BPM is more holistic than methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma, which focus purely on process improvement. BPM’s goal is to manage — not just improve the process. The six stages of business process management, as identified in Villanova’s Essentials of BPM course, are Assess, Design, Model, Implement, Monitor and Modify.
- Assess: BPM practitioners should begin by understanding where the process is currently. This should include establishing and documenting what occurs with the process, who is responsible for each task, the length of time the process requires and how frequently the process is running. The assessment phase should end with a sketch demonstrating the current process flow, including any issues and possible consequences to demonstrate business impact.
- Design: The design phase should be highly iterative, as BPM practitioners use the collected data from the assessment phase to design solutions to process issues. A good design reduces problems in the process lifecycle and brings accuracy and efficiency. Presenting multiple designs to stakeholders to test them with data and weigh in on the best option is generally the most effective option. Process maps can be helpful here.
- Model: In this phase, designs are tested with predictive data. BPM practitioners should ensure the accuracy of the data to obtain valid results. The goal of the modeling phase is to manipulate variables (such as time, cost, and resources) to understand their impact on outcomes. For instance, what would be the impact on the process if the number of employees involved was reduced from four to three? Or, what would need to occur for the timeline to move up by one week? Stakeholders should decide how to introduce a process change based on the potential outcome models.
- Implement: BPM practitioners must develop a detailed change management plan that outlines what specifically is changing. This may involve adjusting employee roles, updating external vendors, or updating systems. A contingency plan is also important to have in place.
- Monitor: BPM is intended to be an ongoing process, which means practitioners must continuously assess the process using data modeling and simulation to consider possible outcomes. They should also benchmark performance against several data points, including KPIs, employee feedback, and overall goals.
- Modify: In the modify phase, the process should be continually adjusted based on data to improve outcomes. If changes are required, the business case should be revisited and the six-step phase cycle should begin again, starting with the assessment phase.
Document Process Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation
As illustrated above, business process management tools can make it easier for businesses to manage full end-to-end workflow automation. They are designed with the holistic process in mind.
However, there are many other ways of automating workflows to support a larger digital transformation. Two of the most widely recognized ones are known as document process automation and robotic process automation.
What is Document Process Automation?
Document process automation is a type of workflow automation allows businesses to enable people to collaborate on and share electronic documents. The most advanced and innovative types of document process automation rely on dynamic, mobile-optimized processes. not email. People involved in the workflow, whether it’s within the organization or a customer, receive the documents, fill out, sign, or modify them, and send them to the next relevant party in the workflow.
Many document-based process management tools provide ready-to-use document-based business templates such as:
- Document Approval template
- Purchase Requisition template
- Employee Expense Reimbursement template
- Identify Business Opportunities template
Each of the above process types and many more have their own workflow and fields associated with them. Here are the steps of a typical workflow for document process automation:
- Create document
- Review document
- Document approved [yes] → Notify customer of document approval
- Document not approved [no] → Notify customer of document rejection → Modify document
Document process automation relies on machine-learning algorithms. As such, it is often a better choice for companies that are focused on improving efficiencies. Here are some of the major benefits companies can expect to receive when they use document process automation to manage their workflows:
- Time savings: Manual effort is eliminated, and project managers no longer have to spend valuable time entering data.
- Financial savings: Less manpower is required to move processes to completion.
- Elimination of errors: With manual input comes an increased likelihood of error due to mistyping or submitting the document to the wrong person. The latter can even pose a privacy and compliance risk.
- Flexibility: Project managers can tweak document automation workflows according to changing customer needs and regulatory requirements.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is similar to document process automation. While document process automation relates specifically to the handling of documents, RPA uses task-oriented automatons to make processes more efficient. It’s different still from business process management (introduced earlier in this article) in that business process management covers the end-to-end automation of an entire workflow. RPA handles particular tasks within the greater workflow.
Despite its name, RPA is not a robot. it’s a software that mimics employee behavior by interacting with a web interface as a real person would.
RPA can be used for various computer tasks to speed up their performance. Some of the most popular use cases are:
- Claims processing
- Membership renewals
- Order processing
- Shipping notifications
- Website scraping
- Payroll processing
- Document generation
- Underwriting loans
The market for RPA is growing fast. In 2018, Gartner predicted that global spending on RPA would reach nearly $680 million and that the industry would grow 57% during 2019. This makes it the fastest growing software category out there.
As the chart below shows, “RPA” has only been growing as a search term between 2015 and 2020.
By 2025, RPA software is anticipated to deliver the same output as 140 million full-time employees, having a potential impact of $5 to $7 trillion.
RPA’s rise to prominence is likely thanks to the simplicity of implementing and adopting it compared to traditional BPM, which requires coding (however, as discussed earlier, no-code BPM is also intuitive and easy to work with. Its added advantage over RPA is that it handles the entire workflow, not just tasks).
RPA has become the more popular of the two, especially given that no-code BPM is only now gaining visibility. But it is more accurate to say that RPA and BPA are just two different ways of reaching the same goal.
They both are designed to increase efficiency and productivity throughout the organization by automating processes, and sometimes these two types of automation can complement each other. One does not necessarily replace the other.
The decision of whether BPM, RPA, or some combination of two is more optimal depends on the specific needs of the company.
If the business has significant automation needs and requires a deeper restructuring of processes, then BPA may be the best choice. If the business is just looking to enhance existing processes, RPA is probably sufficient.
What Are RPA Tools?
There are many RPA tools available on the market today. All of them are designed to automate workflow tasks through machine-learning algorithms. Here are some of the most reputable RPA tools out there:
This is the tool most people in the automation world think of when they hear “RPA.”
It’s one of the most popular and common providers in this space. UiPath describes itself as automating work using digital robots. It uses AI to analyze tasks performed by people in the organization. It is especially suitable for enterprises.
Automation Anywhere is another popular RPA tool. It uses “software robots” to automate business logic with scriptless, end-to-end tests. Its capabilities center around the following areas:
- RAP to automate every rule-based process
- Self-learning automation
- Real-time, operational analytics
Blue Prism’s RPA automation suite is available both on the cloud and on-premise. it includes:
- An Object Studio that helps you build automation using a drag-and-drop interface
- A Digital Workforce composed of autonomous software robots
- A Control Room to easily assign a digital process to employees
Automagica is an open-source, Smart Robotic Process Automation (SRPA) platform based on Python. Automagica allows companies to rapidly automate multiple different cross-platform processes like:
- File and folder manipulation
- Email operations
- Word and Excel automation
- Browser automation
- PDF manipulation
Where is Robotic Process Automation Used?
1. Customer Onboarding
Most B2C companies have a customer onboarding process in place, but it’s not always as smooth as it should be. RPA can ensure most customer onboarding actions are completed instantaneously even when legacy backend systems are involved. This greatly improves the customer experience, reduces onboarding time, and ensures that customers who begin the onboarding process will complete it.
2. Data Entry and Migration
Legacy systems still perform critical functions at companies, and often don’t have APIs. This means that employees manually migrate data using formats like CSV. RPA can prevent such manual effort and the potential errors that commonly occur with it.
3. Updating the CRM
Updating the CRM is essential but highly time-consuming if done manually.
There is an emerging class of solutions that allow companies to integrate their email, call center, and other communication data to the CRM. But in the absence of such a solution, companies can use a bot to update CRM records with key customer data.
4. Bank Statement Reconciliation
Extracting data from bank statements for reconciling records and comparing them against the company’s records was manually done via messy spreadsheets. However, this is a process that can be automated. It is best to test initial outputs of the bots after the company changes its banking service providers to ensure accuracy.
5. Workers’ Compensation Claims
Worker absence due to injury or sickness needs to be reported to the claims management service provider to manage workers’ compensation claims. This is a relatively simple and automatable process, and can significantly streamline the process between the employee, employer, healthcare provider, and insurance company.
6. Improving Compliance
Changing business, regulatory, or tax requirements demand businesses to validate thousands of records. Many companies leverage RPA to process large quantities of records efficiently.
While dedicated KYC solutions are emerging, if the company does not yet use one, it is possible to use RPA bots to automate portions of the KYC process. For cases that require human intervention, the case can be forwarded to an employee.
8. Bank Loan Processing
As with most document processing tasks, this process is also suitable for RPA as complex business logic can be embedded in bots partially automating loan decisions and the manual processes that follow the decision.
9. Auto Loan Processing
Works similarly to bank loan processing. RPA uses things like credit score and income level described on stips to help decide whether or not the auto loan is approved.
10. Insurance Claims Processing
Claims processing is at the heart of every insurance company. Since customers make claims at a time incident, customer experience and speed are critical in claims processing. There are numerous factors that create issues during claims processing such as
- Manual/inconsistent processing: Claims processing often involves manual analyses completed by outsourced personnel.
- Input data of varying formats: Customers send in data in various formats
- Changing regulations: Insurance companies must constantly update staff and processes according to the latest regulations.
Failure to deal with these issues can lead to human biases in claims processing, leading to losses, customer churn, and lack of visibility in a crucial process.
RPA bots can deal with all these issues. Essentially, bots take in unstructured data in forms, extract structured data and process claims based on predefined rules. This approach takes care of all major issues with manual claims processing:
- Claim verification can be automated with rules
- Bots can deal with various data formats to extract relevant data
- Rules can be changed with regulatory changes, without any need for training, immediately ensuring compliance.
Numerous telco back-office processes have been automated. Examples include:
- Credit checks: Required for post-paid accounts and typically involves manual processes
- SIM swapping: Assigning a new SIM to a user. Could be due to a change of SIM format or a case of lost/stolen SIM
- Customer dispute resolution: Automatically classifying disputes, resolving ones that can be automatically resolved and assigning the more complex ones to related parties is a relatively simple yet effective back-office process to automate
- Porting customer numbers: Customers switching to other operators need to get their numbers ported which can be fully automated.
Workflow Automation For Streamlining Business Operations
A company may choose a business process management, document process automation, or robotic process automation tool — or any combination of these. All are ultimately in service of workflow automation. And the goal of workflow automation is to improve and streamline business operations.
How Do You Streamline Business Operations?
The right tools can make it much easier to streamline business operations. But having the right strategy in place is essential. Here are the core areas to focus on when streamlining:
1. Value Chain Analysis
The process chain is divided into tasks. The first thing to do in determining if there are any tasks that can be eliminated or should be improved is to analyze how much value they add to the process.
For example, for a brand of designer sunglasses, the layout of the packaging and the creation of the logo add a lot of value to the final product. But it can also be time-consuming. The brand must ensure these critical steps are carried out with maximum efficiency.
Likewise, instead of maintaining a team of designers specializing in creating packaging, the company can use standard packaging offered in the market, which eliminates all these steps in the process.
2. Automating Routine Tasks
For the above example, once the company has decided on the packaging label design, it will most likely be much efficient and cost-effective to use a machine to automate the labeling process. Repetitive tasks are especially well served by automation.
However, if a repetitive task is also responsible for adding high value to the chain, it may be better not to automate it, or only automate certain aspects. For example, input from a human agent is often better than automated responses when it comes to sensitive or complex financial transactions.
3. Removing Bottlenecks
It’s critical to streamline business processes that prevent the workflow automation from progressing.
Bottlenecks usually occur because of insufficient resources, information, visibility, or training. Companies must first pinpoint which of these issues are causing the bottleneck before tackling it.
4. Analyzing Handoffs
Whenever one system or person passes information from one to another, it is considered a handoff process.
This process carries the risk of somebody passing the information incorrectly or late, which can lead to bottlenecks or errors. This makes it necessary to monitor handoffs and, if necessary, to automate them.
5. Customer Feedback
One of the fundamental points of any process is when the end-customer makes contact with it.
The best brands develop a whole process so that this magic moment is perfect and memorable. To create more of these moments, it’s critical to solicit customer feedback both at the end of the interaction and along critical touchpoints. This process can be automated, ensuring that project managers can create feedback loops.
How Do You Create an Automated Workflow?
1. Take Gradual Steps
Adopting a workflow automation solution doesn’t mean having to automate everything or get bogged down in IT committees. Find one simple workflow to automate. Ideally, the first automated workflow will be repetitive, reasonably frequent, and have simple routing rules.
Along the way, companies learn what it takes to successfully create and deploy workflows in the organization, and these lessons can then be incorporated into additional workflows.
2. Identify Stakeholders and Delineate Roles
Once a target workflow is identified, it’s a good idea to understand and document in detail how it’s currently performed. These are some questions stakeholders should ask:
- What exactly is the workflow doing?
- What’s the exact sequence of steps? Are any of them optional or dependent on business criteria?
- Who are the people involved at each step and what decisions must they make?
- What content is created or modified?
- How long does each step typically take?
The best way to get a solid understanding of the workflow automation is to collect feedback from the actual users. They’ll share what’s working and what’s not in the current setup.
3. Design a Workflow Diagram
Document a workflow diagram so the team can easily visualize the workflow’s steps and provide feedback. Use standard symbols and terminology to create the workflow diagram so it’s easy to understand.
In most situations, there’s no need for specialized software — companies can simply use PowerPoint or Google Slides to create a flowchart.
Share the workflow diagram with all stakeholders and consult with them. When they feel like valued partners, they’ll not only help validate the flowchart but also be more likely to actively support a successful implementation.
4. Implement the Workflow Using Simple Automation Software
This stage involves actually digitizing the workflow. In the majority of organizations, IT resources are severely constrained and available programming talent is in short supply.
The good news is that no-code workflow automation systems are highly visual and easy to use. Business users can automate workflows using simple drag-and-drop tools, without requiring any IT involvement.
Even smaller companies can eliminate manual work and automate everyday tasks thanks to cost-effective, cloud-based automation solutions.
5. Test Cycles
While it’s important to ensure that the digital workflow does what it’s designed to do without errors, testing is about more than finding and fixing bugs.
The most advanced teams rely on User Acceptance Testing (UAT) cycles to pinpoint problems and deploy something that the team actually wants and likes. UAT ensures that the people who have to use the new system have a say in how it’s designed. This increases the likelihood of them using it regularly and correctly.
6. Deploy the Workflow
Once tested, it’s time to roll out the new workflow. With modern platforms, this is very straightforward –– often as easy as clicking a button.
The workflow may function smoothly, but it won’t achieve anything unless people use it. Resistance at the point of deployment is common — most people don’t like change and are reluctant to let go of existing processes.
In addition to teaching people how to use the newly automated workflow, a training program that clearly articulates how it benefits real users will go a long way. For example, managers can explain how the new system will reduce cumbersome paperwork processing and free up time for higher-value tasks.
7. Collect Feedback and Make Improvements
Successful workflow management involves regularly revisiting your automated workflows to uncover issues or opportunities to improve efficiencies.
Once the team has used the new system for a period of time, they’ll be able to identify what’s working well and what needs to be improved. Take the time to go back and ask key questions:
- Are you doing less manual work?
- Do you have more time for the things you care about?
- How can we improve?
After collecting this feedback, issues should be addressed as quickly as possible. Otherwise, people might stop using the system or use it incorrectly.
8. Optimize and Share
Gather hard data about the time and cost savings of the automated workflow and compare it to the time and cost of the project itself. How much money will be saved and when will costs be recouped?
Using the workflow analysis features built into the automation software, analyze the workflows to find internal bottlenecks and improve efficiency.
Finally, share important success stories and recognize the efforts of the team. This will help everyone rally around the cause of workflow efficiency.
Lightico’s Workflow Automation Solution
Lightico’s workflow automation solution enables agents to automate requests to customers based on information provided in smart forms. These digital forms are based on conditional logic; this means that project managers can set up rules that only reveal fields that pertain to their particular characteristics. For example, a customer filling out an insurance enrollment form may be asked to provide additional details only if he or she has a preexisting condition.
Such forms improve turnaround time, reduce the likelihood of error, and improve the form-filling experience.
But now, Lightico has taken the principles of conditional logic and applied it to the entire workflow automation process. Depending on how customers answer certain questions on their forms, the solution triggers or blocks requests for additional actions or documents.
Lightico’s workflow automation solution ensures that project managers can set up their own rules and make adjustments on the fly, without developer or IT involvement. In today’s constantly changing business and regulatory environment, such self-service is a must.
Advantages of Lightico Over RPA
Unlike RPA, Lightico’s solution considers the entire customer-facing workflow — not just specific tasks in the backend. This is based on the knowledge that today’s customers expect seamless, end-to-end journeys. Standalone point solutions like RPA are insufficient for customer-obsessed companies.
Advantages of Lightico Over Document Process Automation
Many of Lightico’s capabilities overlap with document process automation. To be sure, Lightico is robust when it comes to expediting the collection of digital documents and eSignatures. But Lightico goes beyond the document, automating workflow processes such as ID verification, payment collection, agent/customer shared review, real-time media sharing, and more.