Business process automation

Convenience

Business process automation (BPA), is the strategy a business uses to automate processes in order to contain costs. It consists of integrating applications, restructuring labor resources and using software applications throughout the organization. As most IT systems are inherently automation engines in themselves, a valid option is to extend their functionality to enable the desired automation, creating customized linkages between the disparate application systems where needed. This approach means that the automation can be tailored specifically to the exact environment of the organization; on the down-side, it can be time-consuming to find the necessary skills either internally or in the marketplace.

The next section explains that a Business Process Management system is quite different from BPA. However, it is possible to build automation on the back of a BPM implementation. The actual tools to achieve this vary, from writing custom application code to using specialist BPA tools, as described above. The advantages and disadvantages of this approach are inextricably linked – the BPM implementation provides an architecture for all processes in the business to be mapped, but this in itself delays the automation of individual processes and so benefits may be lost in the meantime.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources. ERP software integrates all facets of an operation, including product planning, development, manufacturing, sales and marketing. ERP software is considered an enterprise application as it is designed to be used by larger businesses and often requires dedicated teams to customize and analyze the data and to handle upgrades and deployment. In contrast, Small business ERP applications are lightweight business management software solutions, customized for the business industry you work in.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth. CRM systems are designed to compile information on customers across different channels -- or points of contact between the customer and the company -- which could include the company's website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social media. CRM systems can also give customer-facing staff detailed information on customers' personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns.

Human resource management (HRM, or simply HR) is a function in organizations designed to maximize employee performance in service of an employer's strategic objectives. HR is primarily concerned with the management of people within organizations, focusing on policies and on systems. HR departments and units in organizations typically undertake a number of activities, including employee benefits design employee recruitment, "training and development", performance appraisal, and rewarding (e.g., managing pay and benefit systems).

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