Understanding automation for process experts

Digital transformation was once the brightest new concept for business success, but it has already moved from being an innovation to a core feature of successful enterprises.

Gartner has described it as “a requirement for all businesses to thrive in the future,” and many organizations have already embarked on digital transformation projects to secure that future for themselves.

The transition to digitization has led to no small shake-up in how things are done, with business process automation leading the charge in many instances. For process experts, and those responsible for operational management, the introduction of these technologies has been swift, and at times, confusing.

It needn’t be that way though. Nintex leads with simplicity, and that includes its automation solutions. Even when dealing with complex enterprise processes, the concepts can be applied clearly and effectively to help organizations digitally transform the way they work.

Automation lightens the load

Just like the term suggests, automation is about reducing manual effort. It covers a whole suite of tools known as business process automation (BPA) or digital process automation (DPA) and encompasses all the technologies that streamline business processes.

The tools that make up that group of technologies are varied, and each enables an organization to improve production, increase efficiency, and ensure better compliance across everyday business activities. They help reduce the manual tasks people face in their processes, accelerating process execution with less errors, and enabling staff to focus on value-added activities instead.

Each form of automation has its own strengths and advantages, and Nintex draws those tools together to offer the best possible solutions for your business.

Here’s an introduction to the key concepts you’ve likely come across, and how Nintex can help you engage them within your business:

Workflow automation

Workflows are commonly understood to be a series of related steps or logic used to complete a task, and they often form the backbone of a process. An automated workflow takes some of those steps and applies a system that completes the task, or moves the process from one step to another without needing manual action or the input of a human employee.

Workflow automation accelerates processes by eliminating delays between steps or tasks, increasing efficiency while reducing the opportunities for errors from manual handling, and allowing for effortless repetition.

It’s workflows like this that are at the core of Nintex Workflow Cloud®. The simple low-to-no-code editor uses drag and drop tools to create powerful workflow automations, eliminating manual steps in business processes, managing data flow, and freeing users from unnecessary interactions.

Form automation

Paper documentation is still a significant part of many business processes. These artifacts are key points of contact for customers and staff with systems and procedures that channel data through your business. Documentation can be forms that trigger processes or activities or reports and documents created from the processed data.

These pieces of paper represent a significant amount of data double-handling and can be replaced with smart forms or documents generated by automation tools. Digital forms capture the data at the source, and route it immediately as part of workflow automation, ensuring that the information is stored in the right place instantly and error-free.

A solution like Nintex DocGen® will then be able to identify key data within your databases and extract it to compose documentation efficiently and effectively, saving time and building from prepared templates for clear, uniform outcomes. That means anything from an agreement to an acceptance letter can be generated almost instantly and sent on to the right people for review or signing.

Further tools like Nintex Sign® powered by Adobe Sign enable recipients to approve and return completed paperwork without ever printing a page, moving essential information in minutes that previously took days to collect, collate, present, and approve.

Robotic process automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) employs ‘bots’ – automated agents that act like robots, repeating trained actions as if they were human users, but in an endlessly repeatable sequence.

The strength of RPA is in interacting with a wide range of applications to automate repetitive manual tasks. These usually involve structured data; what are sometimes called ‘swivel chair’ activities, referencing the need for someone to extract data from one system, then ‘turn’ to another system to enter it again.

The bots are ‘trained’ to follow the mouse movements and keyboard commands of a human user, then imitate the clicks and keystrokes to interact with spreadsheets, legacy systems, and data applications through the usual user interface.

Training RPA bots is typically one of the more expensive automation solutions, but it also offers some of the quickest time-to-value and most quantifiable ROI of any automation solution.

Taking over manual tasks with RPA bots will free teams to focus on value-added activities that require significantly more judgment or insight, and reduce process timeframes and errors.

 Choose the right automation for your needs

There is no ‘silver bullet’ for digital transformation. No single tool is a one-size-fits-all solution, and each business context has unique challenges and constraints which will shape the approach needed to successfully address your automation issues.

Getting the terminology straight and understanding what each tool offers is a good first step for business process experts and operations officers. Digital transformation is part of the mainstream of business now, and ignoring the potential of automation solutions won’t do your organization any favors.

Nintex is committed to being the most complete, powerful, and easy-to-use platform for managing, optimizing, and automating business processes. From process mapping to workflows to RPA, Nintex provides the tools and expertise to meet your business automation needs, and to ensure you keep pace with business today and into the future.

 

 

Interested in learning more about the Nintex Platform and how it can help process experts understand automation better? Request a demo today!

 

 

Chris Ellis

Nintex Technical Director Chris Ellis brings years of experience as a software engineer and a lifelong passion for technology to the role. Based in Melbourne, Australia, he loves showing people the value and simplicity of the Nintex workflow platform. When not working, he enjoys snowboarding and traveling (he has fond memories of a six-week trip in Southeast Asia). Follow him on Twitter @ce1906

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