Smart processes are designed to bridge the gap in business — the coordination and collaboration that is missing between different business units and departments of an organization. Processes hold the key to connectivity between different functional units and departments. The accounts payable department must coordinate with the purchasing department to tally a vendor invoice it received for authenticity before approving the payment to the vendor. In this case, the invoice processing function helped connect the two departments. It is therefore evident that such processes are critical to the optimal functioning and coordination between departments in an organization. In the same light, a poorly executed process can create a gap in continuity, and therefore connectivity between departments. Mostly, a lack of process visibility and transparency can translate to poor business outcomes and functional discrepancies across departments. Routine operations like invoice processing, sales order processing, mailroom operations, etc. are mission critical to the optimal functioning of a business. If companies are to ensure steady growth and revenues, they must be connected. The correct process controls can lead to better connectivity between departments, and in turn the entire organization — making way for increased coordination, productivity, and revenues.
Managing business processes manually is cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive. A routine process like vendor invoicing involves a lot of data entry work, coupled with going back-and-forth between different participants in the process to validate the invoices and waiting for the designated personnel to receive payment approvals. A typical accounts payable clerk would get on to the routine tasks of entering details from an invoice into a company spreadsheet, make calls to the supplier, purchase department, and manager to validate and approve the invoices, and post final payments in a business application like an ERP system for record keeping. This routine may be repeated everyday for the hundreds and thousands of invoices a typical company receives regularly.
But apart from managing routine, repetitive tasks such as this, the accounts payable clerk may be contributing to one more thing: AP inefficiency. There may be instances where the AP clerk may have made the wrong data entry from an invoice into a spreadsheet, missed recording a vendor transaction, or delayed the validation of an invoice because he/she could not get hold of the right personnel for confirmation.
Manually-driven document-based processes are error-prone and costly. The impact of bad data entry and document processing work will be felt along the entire process chain, but also delay work in other departments connected with the process. This can set off a ripple effect where, say, incorrect data entry from an invoice could lead to inaccurate payments processing, and possibly, overpayments to the vendor. Not just poor paperwork and delays, incorrect processing of document-based processes can also lead to rework and reprocessing costs. Mismanagement of company funds such as this can, in the long-run, impact the entire organization negatively.
In order for companies to exercise sound business management practices, their processes must be sound.
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Intelligent automation simulates a lot of the manual effort that goes into executing document-based processes like data entry, data validation, and payments posting. The technology replaces manual effort and the inefficiencies that come with it, and helps drive more accurate, consistent processes. Intelligent process automation is a combination of many digital transformation technologies like AI, machine learning, robotic process automation, intelligent data capture, recognition software like OCR/ICR/OMR, and business process automation.
Cognitive technologies like AI and machine learning combined with powerful data capture software equips an intelligent automation solution with the human-like capabilities needed to execute processes, but without the inefficiencies and delays of manual effort. Intelligent automation makes routine, repetitive processes smart. A smart process is powered by intelligent automation.
Intelligent automation enables straight-through processing of repetitive tasks, and may automate processes fully or partially. Cognitive technologies like AI and machine learning give intelligent automation solutions the capability to self-learn processing steps and execute near-autonomously. This helps businesses lower the inefficiencies and costs associated with manual process implementation. There are many application areas where companies can benefit from a smart process.
Recruitment: this is a critical process that entails a lot of paperwork and data entry, including screening and validating applications, updating the database with candidates who have already been interviewed, sending out acceptance letters to approved candidates, and updating the biodata of those newly enrolled. These are standard, routine processes that can be automated. Having a smart recruitment software that performs all these tasks sequentially will help businesses save a great deal on labor and document processing errors, delays, and costs.
Finance & Accounting: typical processes in this department like accounts payable are document-intensive and manually-driven, making the process highly error-prone and inefficient. Routine operations like transaction document data entry, validation of transaction records like vendor invoices and purchase orders, redirecting invoices to the concerned personnel for dispute resolution or approvals, reconciling payments, cross-checking and accounting for early pay discounts or other particulars as mentioned in the terms and conditions, etc. all can be simulated by an intelligent automation solution. For instance, an invoice processing software can automate the end-to-end processing of vendor invoices including the capture, data extraction, data validation, and verification before routing them for approval and final payments to the vendor. An automated end-to-end process such as this helps accelerate payments processing and payables, ensuring sound accounts payable, finance management, and liquidity for businesses.
Supply Chain: supply chain is a massive division in a company that requires sound management for timely delivery of goods and services to customers. A big part of this management involves dealing with heavy document-dependent and labor-intensive processes. In fact, document flows along the supply chain dictate process implementation and execution of tasks, which means that in order to function properly, supply chains must get their document-based processes right. A typical process like sales order processing requires acquiring, validating, and approving customer orders in a time-bound manner. An order processing software with intelligent automation capabilities can help automate this process where a sales order coming from any channel like email, file shares, scan, fax, etc. is captured by the intelligent automation bots. The bots then proceed to extract relevant details from the order form using machine learning, perform inventory lookup to confirm the availability of the product, check and validate the customer and order details against database records in a connected ERP system and send approval for the order to be fulfilled and delivered to the concerned customer.
It’s a routine operation which, if done manually, can take up a lot of time and effort, and cause errors along the way, ultimately delaying order delivery and the crucial customer service that determines a company’s standing in the marketplace.
Insurance: the insurance industry is synonymous with unending paperwork, and often, it is the skilled workers that are subjected to non-stop paper pushing. Timely reimbursements are critical to maintaining a strong customer base, which means, with manual paperwork, insurance companies can only go so far. Claims processing is a labor-intensive and heavily document-driven operation that must be done right every time to avoid reporting costs and delays, or over-or-underpayments. The level of precision and diligence to get data entry and document processing right everytime is not practical with manual effort. Digital workers, on the other hand, powered by intelligent automation, do not tire and can process claims for consistent accuracy. Claims processing is pretty much a routine, document-based operation where incoming claims forms from various channels like emails and posts need to be recorded through data entry, sorted, classified, validated and verified for either approval or rejection. Since these steps repeat with different claims forms, a claims processing software with intelligent automation capabilities can be applied to simulate these actions and perform claims processing hands-free. Data extraction based on machine learning helps capture details from a diverse set of claims forms, with little to no human intervention. Intelligent automation comes with built-in logic to capture standard claims forms and self-learning knowledge to capture new document types.
Payroll: processing employee paychecks every month and managing the payrolls is a routine operation that can be made into a smart process with intelligent automation. Smart process automation helps accelerate data entry, employee data and timesheets validations, and salary and benefits management — preventing payment delays and improving employee morale.