Automation of any process that happens without any manual effort is called straight-through processing. In a continuously changing marketplace with a dynamic workforce and a largely informed customer, those companies that make the effort to reach the customer first will succeed. Straight-through processing of critical operations in the workplace will help with that.
The functional areas where straight-through automation technology finds application the most are also critical processes that businesses cannot afford to mismanage. Many of these functions, understandably, are in the finance sector. The payments processing industry has benefited immensely from ensuring zero manual intervention and contactless payments, greatly lowering instances of fraud, human errors, and the defaults and delays in making payments.
But the scope and extent to which straight-through processing can transform business processes for the better are endless. As more and more companies look for ways to improve process efficiencies and lower the costs associated with manual effort, the need for straight-through or touchless processing becomes more evident. The infrastructure for implementing straight-through processing does not replace or disturb underlying systems, making this technology highly viable.
Document-Based Process: document-based back-office operations are hugely labor-intensive, making these jobs error-prone and inefficient. These processes typically involve implementing a series of repetitive, routine steps like data entry, data validation, and document approval. Straight-through processing technology can help stimulate a lot of these tasks, ensuring no human intervention for those operations that traditionally were performed manually. Tasks like invoice processing, sales order processing, medical claims processing, etc. all benefit from a single process automation platform that implements straight-through processing.
For instance, when it comes to invoice processing, an AP clerk is required to perform data entry to get all the invoice details into a company spreadsheet, then validate that data by matching with the purchase order, the receipt, if available, check the vendor details, and take other validation measures depending on business rules and requirements. These tasks can be automated using say, an intelligent automation system that performs straight-through invoice processing. Intelligent automation software is embedded with cognitive technologies like AI and machine learning. These technologies help the software ‘self-learn’ new invoice documents without needing manual effort and perform straight-through capture, extraction, and validation of invoice data before automatically routing the invoices for approvals and export to a connected business application like a NetSuite Cloud ERP system. Elimination of manual effort in the data entry and validation stages, which are highly error-prone, helps dramatically lower the costs and inefficiencies of manual paperwork. Straight-through document processing work cuts down the time it takes to implement mission critical processes and lower the overheads of repetitive, mundane work.
Payments Processing: typical money transfers and payment transactions took days to process, and engaged a lot of personnel and departments that went back-and-forth trying to validate and approve payments. Straight-through electronics payments processing accelerates accounts receivables and collections, helping companies improve cash inflows and customer service. Additional coding in innovative payments solutions helps secure the payments chain and prevent fraud. A unified payments portal helps connect partners and customers; monitor tracking and collections; and improve cash inflows.
Electronic Commerce: e-commerce is today a must-have for growing businesses. Straight-through automation has amplified the scale and extent to which businesses can accelerate fulfillment and deliver on customer expectations. Straight-through processing technology acts as a single platform solution that can be used to register users, process sales orders, perform customer validation checks, process payment transactions, and manage shipping. No manual intervention means no instances of manually-induced errors, enabling businesses to focus on engaging customers and extending their reach to newer consumer segments.
Insurance: the insurance sector relies heavily on manual paperwork to move business. Processing claims documents by the hundreds and thousands every month is risky when there is possibility of human error creeping in. A wrong data entry can halt mission critical work and force staffers to rework an entire chain of tasks following data entry including data validation and approvals. Reprocessing and rework proves costly not just in terms of the monetary value but also when you look at how it impacts customer service. A delay or error in claims processing can delay reimbursements or force companies to overpay in reprocessing costs. Even worse, manual claims processing errors can lead to a mismanagement of claims and end up costing the insurer in fraudulent claims, or over or under payments. Straight-through processing, again, eliminates manual intervention, especially for the most critical tasks like data entry that require greater precision to avoid errors in subsequent claims processing tasks. A combination of cognitive technologies and intelligent data capture becomes useful to enable straight-through claims processing, with tasks like sorting, classifying, data entry, and data validation being the standard steps followed and repeated with every type of claims form.
For process efficiencies and better business outcomes, adopt straight-through processing for all your mission critical work.