AIMultiple ResearchAIMultiple Research

Business Process Automation: Types, Use Cases & Best Practices

Many businesses are deploying automation tools to streamline their processes in finance, human resources, sales & marketing, and other areas. While process automation is changing the face of business operations with many benefits, some businesses are likely to face challenges when implementing an automation solution.

In this article, we will go into more detail on the implementation of business automation solutions and provide tips on how businesses can automate their processes more effectively.

What is business process automation (BPA)?

Business process automation (BPA) is the use of technology to automate repetitive and manual tasks throughout an organization in order to achieve maximum efficiency and value. 

What are the main types of business process automation?

  1. Robotic process automation (RPA):
  • Focuses on automating simple and repetitive tasks that do not require decision-making.
  • Used to automate repetitive and rule-based tasks such as data extraction, data entry, and reporting.
  • Should be used for simple and repetitive tasks.
  1. Intelligent automation:
    • Combines AI and RPA.
    • Used in non-routine and complex tasks.
    • Deal with both structured and unstructured data.
  1. Workflow automation:
    • Designed for business users to standardize processes.
    • It is the automation of human tasks based on predefined workflow rules.
    • An example of automated workflow:  when a new user visits your website and fills out a form or downloads a resource from your website, an automated thanking email is sent to the user.

2 reasons why you should automate your business processes

1. Digitizing manual and paper-based processes to reduce the turnaround time

Manual and paper-based processes have higher turnaround times. Reliance on paper-based processes reduces employee productivity and motivation since they are spending too much time on repetitive manual tasks. In general, multistep business processes take more than a week or even longer. Higher turnaround time is an important bottleneck for employees.

2. Cutting processing costs with automated workflows

Machines are able to complete manual tasks such as purchase orders and data entry faster than humans. From a long-term perspective, automated workflows save labor costs and cut the cost of paper-based tasks. 

For example, implementing an invoice automation tool for key business processes helps companies reduce their invoice processing costs and allows CFOs to focus on higher value-added activities.

How to automate a business process? 

1. Understand existing business processes to identify those best suited for automation

To effectively deploy an automation tool into a business process, the first step is understanding the existing process in terms of what these processes involve, where you are starting from, and so on. This provides more clarity on which processes should be automated first.

Businesses can use process mining tools to acquire a deeper understanding of their actual processes and gain process intelligence. Process mining technology allows companies to cover the bottlenecks within process workflows. It helps businesses understand the actual processes better by leveraging data. 

To read about what is process mining and its main capabilities, feel free to read our guide.

Recommendation: Business Process Mapping is a comprehensive method to obtain information about the entire process. With a process mapping you can:

  • clearly identify each step of the process,
  • determine exactly who is responsible for a specific task,
  • and understand task dependencies – where the task starts and stops.

Remember that some processes are not suited to be automated since they require complex decision-making and critical thinking.

2. Prioritize the most impactful processes for automation

Knowing your goals and objectives will help you set your priorities and develop an automation strategy that takes into account your existing business processes.

Recommendation: Initially, you can focus on high-volume and repetitive processes, such as data entry and document routing as they have higher turnaround times and processing costs.

3. Determine the process boundaries to reduce complexity

Once you have identified the process you want to automate, you need to clearly define the process boundaries. This allows managers to plan sources and define the roles and responsibilities of the team.


  • Determine where or when the process begins and ends,
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of your team in the context of a specific task,
  • Identify deviations and bottlenecks in the process,
  • Make sure your team members know exactly what their role will be in the process.

4. Analyze technical and business requirements to choose the right tools

In order to achieve the desired business outcomes, you need to clearly identify the business requirements for each process. Here are some considerations:

  • Focus on the most critical issues in your process to determine which problems need to be solved. It is critical to automate the right process steps with the right automation solution.
  • Define desired business outcomes clearly, to avoid mismatching expectations.
  • Each business automation solution has different strengths and weaknesses. Understand your workflows and existing systems.
  • Make sure that the selected automation tool can work harmoniously with the existing ones.

Recommendation: Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of the chosen automation tool. Measuring the impact on the process with the right metrics is crucial to understanding the success of the automation.

4 Business process automation use cases

1. Test automation

Test automation is the process of automating manual tests in the testing phase of software development. Test automation can reduce the time spent on testing by 70% and increase the accuracy and coverage of tests which can lead to identifying more bugs and glitches. 

Test automation can be used in :

  • API testing: APIs are used by 90% of developers but almost 40% of API users indicate some sort of breakage when working with APIs. 
  • Web testing: The cost of software bugs found in the testing stages is almost 85% cheaper than in the production stage. 
  • Mobile app testing: In 2021 more than 2 million apps were launched however users abandon apps that have bugs and glitches. The higher bugs identification with test automation can increase the quality of apps and the chance of success. 

For more on automation testing, read Automation Testing: Types, Frameworks, Tools & Best Practices.

2. HR automation

It is the process of using software to automate manual repetitive tasks such as recruitment and onboarding. HR automation allows teams to focus on more people-centered tasks. Here are some examples of HR automation:

  • Employee onboarding: With a process automation tool, you can set an automated email cadence for new employees to send info and welcome emails. This reduces inconsistencies during the onboarding process.
  • Employee offboarding: The manual offboarding process consists of a lot of paperwork and is time-consuming since it involves many manual steps. To avoid this, you can complete and upload documents electronically, and integrate an electronic signature service into your offboarding process. It eliminates the risk of losing forms, and reduces employee turnover.

To learn more about HR automation, you can check out our complete guide on the topic.

3. Sales automation

It is the process of using software to automate time-consuming, repetitive steps in the sales process. Instead of spending time on administrative tasks, it allows sales teams to focus on valuable tasks such as lead generation, sales strategy, and planning.

  • Lead enrichment: When you review your company’s leads in your database, you will likely find gaps in your lead data such as first name, last name, phone number, company name, etc. These incomplete leads impact the entire sales lifecycle. However, manually filling in these gaps can be very time-consuming. You can use a lead enrichment solution that is suitable for your sales process. It automatically matches leads and fills in the gaps based on the company name or email domain.

4. Financial Process Automation

Financial automation frees up CFOs’ time to focus on more complex tasks. Here are some examples of financial processes that can be automated:

  • Generating invoices
  • Gathering and organizing data for analysis
  • Creating reports
  • Calculating allocations
  • Year-End Close

You can use a document automation tool to generate standardized invoices or a reporting tool to automate the process of creating financial reports. Financial reporting software reduces errors and the cycle time compared to the manual process.

For more details on how automation tools are changing finance, feel free to check out our more comprehensive guide.

Further reading

If you want to learn more about process automation, feel free to check our article on the topic:

If you’re looking for BPA vendors to handle your processes, feel free to scroll through our data-driven, sortable lists of vendors.

If you have any questions about how to automate your business processes, don’t hesitate to contact us:

Find the Right Vendors
Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
Follow on

Gulbahar Karatas
Gülbahar is an AIMultiple industry analyst focused on web data collections and applications of web data.

Next to Read


Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.