Without question, COVID-19 turned our current reality on its head and ushered in our future. The pandemic abruptly revealed a world in which digital is central to every interaction, forcing both organizations and individuals to ramp up their digital adoption almost overnight. Today, more than ever, organizations are relying on digital process automation to improve productivity, reduce costs, and provide much needed flexibility in these uncertain times. At its core, digital process automation is a pivotal evolution of business process management, and one that can facilitate a more customer-centric and responsive approach to office operations. 

Digital Process Automation

What is Digital Process Automation (DPA)?

Digital process automation is the digitization of end-to-end processes, which means improving on operational inefficiencies and service delivery by eliminating the waste attributed to manual workflows. In essence, DPA is a progression of business process management; it enhances organizational workflows by speeding up results, meanwhile decreasing the likelihood of human errors (that contribute to needless excess and compromised service delivery).

How Digital Process Automation Works

Digital process automation (DPA) uses software and digital technology to automate manual, time-consuming tasks. The purpose of DPA is to optimize and streamline workflows, as well as to provide more personalized customer experiences. With the help of digital process automation, agencies and IT teams can readily collaborate through a single platform, while at the same time, mitigating security risks and reducing overhead costs by a notable margin.

Digital document management technology becomes exponentially more powerful when utilized alongside digital process automation. Combined, they can deliver on the full promise of digital transformation. 

Any processes that are heavily dependent on content from completed forms and communication — like applications, contracts, or employee onboarding — can be skillfully optimized via automation. And when they are automated in a way that can be continually upgraded or revised, it results in measurable gains for both the customer and employee experience, as well as decreased costs for your agency.

The Benefits of Digital Process Automation

By adopting and integrating digital process automation, organizations can reduce (or even eliminate) manual, paper-based processes and the costly errors, exposures, and delays associated with them. In turn, they’ll enjoy enhanced productivity and collaboration, better customer and employee experiences, cost savings, and much stronger security.

Enhanced productivity and collaboration

By leveraging DPA, your agency can automate its most challenging and time-consuming processes. For example, digitizing your documents, using forms and creating automated workflows can support a lightning-fast records request process. With automated requests and approvals you’re creating more productivity through collaboration between departments and team members that manage and approve requests. 

The most productive organizations have made a conscious shift to digital taking aim at simplifying their workflows and enabling better collaboration. 

Better experiences

Two of the most important assets an organization has are their customers and employees. When you opt for a digital transformation at your own agency, it’s an indication that you’re focused on creating better experiences for both. The qualitative benefits of DPA may not be as obvious as cost savings, however they are no less important. DPA helps eliminate manual tasks, giving your staff the ability to focus on high-level, high-value activities that are more rewarding. At the same time when you enable automation you’re able to provide higher quality experiences for your customers. Who doesn’t like making everyone happy?! 

Cost savings

There’s no doubt every agency — regardless of size, industry, or location — is looking for ways to reduce costs. There are clear financial benefits to digital process automation. McKinsey estimates that as many as four out of five processes in human resources, finance, and application processing are at least partially automatable, with the potential to reduce costs by at least 30 percent. By digitizing documents and automating their licensing process, the Florida Department of Health was able to reduce their licensing process time from 6 weeks to 3 days – enabling them to reduce administrative costs.

Stronger security

We know that manual processes are disruptive and time-consuming for staff, and often inconvenient and complicated.They also pose compliance and security risks. When organizations enable DPA they are introducing added security measures. DPA technology helps organizations manage, store, and protect information with multiple layers of security. You’re also fitted with the ability to easily maintain activity logs that make it easy to track user, document, and system activity to protect information and ease the audit process. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services turned to digital process automation to help better protect sensitive health information that posed a significant security risk as paper documents were required for licensing. After working with Image API to digitize their documents and implement a DPA solution that is hosted on AWS cloud technology they no longer have concerns in regards to the security and compliance for the data and documentation required during the medical facility administrator licensing process.

5 Examples of Digital Process Automation at Work

When it comes to achieving the tangible, real-life benefits of digital transformation, investments in digitizing and managing content alone won’t effectively move the needle — organizations must also be sure their processes align to support true transformation. This is the intersection where practical, positive change happens for customers and employees alike.

1. Digitizing customer onboarding

Digital onboarding is a process for digitizing all the steps that allow customers to purchase a product or activate a service online. Many of these transactions, which were once only possible with the support of an operator, have now been transformed digitally to make web transactions that much smoother and simpler. These services might include things like creating a new bank account, signing a contract, or approving maintenance requests (among others).

2. Managing mail and payments

Many organizations are turning to DPA to help them better manage their mail intake and payment processes. A large percentage of traditional, physical mail is now converted into a digital format at the mail center and delivered electronically to the recipient. This is now the first step in the automated payment process. Making this once manual and time-consuming process now lightning fast.

3. Strengthening order fulfillment

For companies who ship their goods to customers, a DPA system can help automate a range of backend work. Namely, digital process automations can strengthen order fulfillment in a big way, by estimating lead times and delivery dates, calculating taxes, tracking the location of an order, and even confirming the package has been received by the customer — of all which serves to elevate the customer satisfaction and keep them loyal to your business. 

4. Automated data procurement

Data-driven procurement describes a procurement strategy that makes data central to its processes, and then utilizes insights derived from that data to drive critical decision-making. 

With DPA, agencies can automate a number of background procurement processes, such as copying data between ERP and ordering systems, or entering invoice data into tracking systems and then (automatically) transferring that data to relevant finance programs.

5. Easier hiring process

Hiring is one of the most difficult, yet critical tasks for any agency, so it’s no wonder HR would want to make this process more manageable (and more successful). Utilizing DPA technology significantly accelerates the screening process, reduces the time it takes to hire, and helps ensure you find the right person for the job.

Leverage Digital Process Automation with Image API

For organizations who need a better way to work digitally, Image API’s technology and solutions provide intelligent, automated digital processes that increase the speed and scale of operations. Our Software as-a-Service model enables a simple starting point, low cost of entry, and predictable cost over time, providing a low risk, fast time to value DPA solution that delivers measurable success, every time!  

To learn more about how Image API’s digital content management and digital process automation technology and services can help your organization achieve the full promise of digital transformation, contact us today. 

Digital Process Automation FAQs

What is the difference between RPA & DPA?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the technology that allows businesses to automate mundane tasks, thanks to designated ‘bots’ that complete them on behalf of an agency’s employees. Digital process automation (DPA), on the other hand, takes the infrastructure of an organization’s business processes and streamlines them to increase efficiency and reduce cost. So where RPA eliminates the need for humans to complete various repetitive responsibilities, DPA hones in on automating processes to improve the customer experience.

Why is digital process automation important?

Digital process automation is important for a number of reasons, including elevating efficiency, fostering collaboration, saving money, and adding greater security to confidential information. In addition, automations have been known to increase productivity by a large margin, which is often the reason organizations choose to adopt this approach within their own office.

What is the difference between digitization and automation?

As the term itself suggests, automation is the automatic execution of tasks without any sort of interference. Digitization, however, has to do with the conversion of analog information into texts, photographs, and more. When organizations implement both automation and digitization, their aim is usually to boost workflows while supporting cost-effective, standardized quality. 

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About Image API

Image API is on a mission to fundamentally simplify the way people work–with the power and speed of digital.  Our team has been delivering innovative technology solutions that solve paper and process challenges for over 20 years.  We are ready–with the expertise, experience, and technology necessary to deliver your digital strategy.

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About the Author: Meredith Kane

Meredith Kane is a freelance copywriter based in Des Moines, Iowa, not far from where she grew up. She's been creating SaaS and B2B content for the last several years, which is largely focused on the practical application of today's digital solutions.