What is process automation?

Procurement

The world of business continues to grow more complex. To tame its resource-intensive complexity, companies are implementing what Gartner calls “hyper automation.” According to Gartner, the need for process automation is one of the reasons why the automation software industry is estimated to grow to over $600 billion in 2022 and beyond.

Written by

Vivian T.

Published on

July 26, 2022

August 4, 2022

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The world of business continues to grow more complex. To tame its resource-intensive complexity, companies are implementing what Gartner calls “hyper automation.” According to Gartner, the need for process automation is one of the reasons why the automation software industry is estimated to grow to over $600 billion in 2022 and beyond. 

With businesses engaging in fierce competition and continuing digital transformation to grow market share, keep stakeholders happy, and stay relevant, they need the best available tools to increase profits and streamline operations. This is why process automation is more relevant now than ever.

It’s one of the best ways for businesses to keep operation costs low, mitigate risk, and expand operations quicker. By the end of this post, you’ll be familiar with all things process automation, including what it is, specific examples, and how you can implement it in your own business. 

Let’s dive in. 

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What is process automation?

Process automation, sometimes referred to as business process automation or BPA, is the act of using technology to improve operational efficiency and lower costs. If done correctly, process automation streamlines the three key factors that directly impact how efficiently an organization is run. 

These three overarching factors include:

Centralizing information: Once centralized, key data can be organized, logged, and used to inform future business projects. Centralized data is more accessible because it isn’t siloed in different apps with varying admin access. Centralized data increases visibility across an organization and lowers the chances of issues like procurement fraud

Automating as many processes as possible: The more you automate, the fewer resources it takes to run an end-to-end operation. Repetitive tasks don’t have to be managed by skilled humans. Instead, once automation is in place, the hours, skills, and labor costs can be applied to higher ROI tasks. 

Minimizing the need for human input: An organization’s most valuable asset is the sum of its workforce. When you minimize the need for human input through process automation, you can invest the time, energy, and skills of each employee into business motions and projects that move the organization forward. 

It’s important to note that a lot of process automation is aided by robotic process automation, or RPA. With the use of RPA software and hardware, RPA is quickly taking over formerly manual tasks through the help of artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Examples of robotic process automation include vehicle assembly lines, call support, or claims administration processes. 

Types of process automation

What types of process automation are there? While there are too many to list, here are some key process automations that are relevant to most organizations. 

Accounting automation

No matter how simple or complex, every business has an accounting process. Especially because transactions are increasingly digital, accounting for those transactions, dealing with different payment processors, managing payment merchant fees, and keeping clear records can all be automated.

That’s the customer-facing process. But you can automate internal transaction processes too. The bigger your organization, the more complex your procurement needs become. Thankfully, steps in the procurement process like creating purchase orders, managing contracts, renewing licenses, and managing suppliers can easily be automated with the right solution in place. 

While automating your accounting processes might not completely eliminate the need for a finance team or someone that oversees your business finances, it does make their job much easier. It ensures higher accuracy and frees up time for higher ROI business initiatives that’ll maximize value while lowering spend. 

Marketing automation

If you aren’t careful, marketing can quickly eat up your resources. With process automation, a lot of the marketing businesses execute to nurture and draw new customers can be automated. 

Thanks to SaaS, social platforms, and our increasing dependency on the digital world, companies can automate marketing motions like media buying, email marketing campaigns, customer acquisition, or even billing. 

Regardless of whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise organization trying to increase its market share, marketing automation is a must-have for businesses that want to compete in today’s market. 

Customer support automation

More than half of the American population will switch from a service provider due to poor customer service. Plus, it takes as many as 12 positive customer experiences to make up for a singular negative one. That’s only the tip of the iceberg in understanding the importance of robust customer support. 

However, automation can make a difference in this department regardless of the industry a business operates in. With automated personalized call processes and automated customer data collection, businesses can attend to customer needs faster and with less hassle, which leads to lower dissatisfaction rates. 

IT asset management automation

It’s hard to accurately keep track of the lifecycle of any software or hardware solution. Manual processes are highly time-consuming and prone to human error. 

IT asset management automation ensures you have an organization-wide handle on all your software and hardware. It increases visibility, helps keep costs low, manages licenses, and tracks usage to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment. With an automated ITit asset management solution, you streamline and optimize the IT supply chain by cutting costs and increasing efficiency where possible.

For example, a robust IT asset management solution helps IT teams track what hardware updates are needed. Built-in standardization tools ensure processes are refined and optimized for cost savings. 

HR automation

If there’s an area you don’t want to skimp on automation in, it’s the area of human resources. The process of prospecting, posting job ads, interviewing, parsing resumes, and headhunting can be incredibly time-consuming. 

Yet, with a robust HR management solution, you can leverage automation to search through hundreds or thousands of resumes, automate the offer letter process, and manage an updated talent pool. Many of HR’s processes are multi-step, and they are highly correlated with a business’ ultimate profit margin. 

Additionally, payroll, benefits, employee offboarding, contracts, training initiatives, and tax data can all be automated. Automating HR processes so they don’t have to depend on human input around the clock is also a way for organizations to protect themselves from possible costly errors when managing employees, following employment laws, and staying compliant. 

Examples of process automation

If you pay attention, process automation is everywhere. Gumball dispensers and vending machines are simpler, everyday examples of process automation. They remove the need for human input, automate the transaction process, and centralize all operations to successfully dispense goods. 

Cheeky examples, sure. But they illustrate how even simple technology can transform processes. Here are some business examples of process automation.

  • Customer support tickets integrated with your purchase management software
  • Automated employee onboarding
  • Job application submissions through an applicant management system
  • Automated file transfers from one application to another
  • Incoming reports logged using automated data routing
  • Parsing, cleansing, and updating unstructured data in real-time using APIs

How to implement process automation

Here’s a general three-step approach to implementing a process automation workflow within your organization. 

1. Identify bottlenecks and set goals

Admittedly, not every single task or project in a business can be automated. The need for human skill and decision-making will always be necessary in some form. Still, spend some time identifying bottlenecks in processes and determine whether some or all of the process can be automated. 

When identifying tasks within processes or entire processes that could be automated, use the following as criteria to help you identify tasks with automation potential. 

  • The task requires regular reporting and analytics
  • The process doesn’t require deep thinking or creative solutions
  • The task or process involves moving data from one application to another
  • The process requires ongoing tracking
  • The task needs to be done frequently
  • The process is done on a schedule

Once you’ve identified the tasks and processes worth automating, you’re able to set goals. The goals you set depend on what you’re trying to optimize for.

Maybe you’re looking to primarily cut costs above all else. Or maybe you want to maximize the output of all your processes per hour. Better yet, maybe your goal is a combination of the two. Either way, once you know what metric you want to solve for and use as your marker for success, you can start auditing the tools you’ll need to get there. 

2. Audit and implement the right software tools

It’s time to decide which automation tools will help get the job done. Depending on how you run your business, a procurement process is in order. As automation needs and bottlenecks are identified, it becomes easier to pinpoint what features are necessary in a process automation solution. 

For example, if you know you need a SaaS management solution that’ll streamline how you manage license renewals and control costs, you’ll know to look for and demo those specific features. Maybe you’re looking for machine learning capabilities that can take your automated processes to the next level. In that case, looking into the best enterprise-grade process automation platforms is a critical next step. 

The complexity of your internal processes will also give you insight into how customizable you need your SaaS management solution to be. If you’re looking for granular insight down to what features are being used in each application, opting for a process automation tool built for smaller teams may not be your best bet. 

3. Asses, measure, repeat

As with all processes, the more you iterate, the closer you get to maximum optimization. As technology advances and your business grows, the goal post in terms of what’s “optimal” will always change.

For that reason, it’s good practice to assess, measure, and repeat your process automation initiatives every so often. You’ll ensure you’re maximizing the value you get from your resources while minimizing unnecessary spending. 

Benefits of process automation

Effectively implementing process automation comes with a long list of benefits, including:

  • Lowering operational costs
  • Lowering the use of resources
  • Removing bottlenecks
  • Minimizing loss
  • Speeding up production
  • Auditable standardized processes
  • Quicker return on investments
  • Helping with environmental initiatives in lowering carbon footprint

Automate your processes with Vendr

Today, process automation is a business requirement. If businesses want to maintain growth, cut costs, and increase their bottom line, process automation must be at the top of the to-do list. 

There are plenty of areas where businesses can leverage automation to their advantage. From accounting HR, production cycles, and even SaaS management, there’s an automation solution worth implementing.

Vendr helps organizations cost-effectively manage their tech stacks. It centralizes your SaaS vendors in one place and helps you draw insights from built-in analytics to enable data-driven choices. 


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The company plans to expand its engineering and customer-facing teams in 2020. Jeff Swank, Head of Vendor Management at Vendr and College of Charleston alumnus, will be leading local operations for Vendr’s new office in the Flagship WestEdge building downtown.

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Vendr was founded in Boston in 2018 by College of Charleston alumnus, Ryan Neu. After running sales teams at high-growth tech companies HubSpot and Invision for eight years, Neu recognized that the way people were buying software was broken. After gaining early traction by acquiring customers like HubSpot, Draftkings and InVision, Vendr was selected to participate in Y-Combinator's 2019 summer class which helped the company raise a $2M round in September 2019.

Related: Putting a name to a feeling: Meet Vendr's core values

Today, Vendr’s investors include F-Prime Capital, Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures, Garage VC and angel investors including Canva co-founder Cliff Obrecht and HubSpot COO JD Sherman.

Learn more about Vendr at www.vendr.com and follow the company on LinkedIn for future updates.

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Procurement

Vendr's 2020 Pledge: Saving money and donating meals

One positive from 2020 is how priorities have shifted - the year has reframed what’s truly important and helped us all better recognize what we’re thankful for.

At Vendr we believe all companies - both large and small - have an opportunity to give back to those that are less fortunate. The greatest benefit of good fortune? Having the opportunity to give back and help others who are in need.

This holiday season we officially launched our first-ever Vendr Volunteers effort.

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In a typical year, it’s estimated that food insecurity impacts 1 in 9 Americans - that’s over 37 million individuals, including more than 11 million children. COVID-19 has impacted that significantly, and more families are in need of food than ever before.

The Challenge:

Between November 15th and December 15th, we launched an internal campaign to raise funds for The Greater Boston Food Bank and The Low Country Food Bank of South Carolina. (We picked Boston and Charleston because those are where our two “offices” are located.)

For every $1M we saved our customers during this 30-day challenge, we pledged to donate $1,000.

The Result?

In one month, our team raised over $9,000 for Boston and Charleston's food banks, through a combination of our savings pledge and team contributions. 

Here's what our customers had to say: 
“At Attentive, we are always looking for ways to give back to the community and the events of this year have made that even more of a priority for us. We are proud to partner with companies who feel the same, and applaud Vendr for this impactful campaign.” - Brandon Simins, Vice President of Finance

“We’re proud to be partnered with small companies like Vendr who see the importance of providing back to our vibrant Boston community, all while helping Salsify streamline and scale our relationships with our software suppliers.” - Mary Jefts, CFO

Thank you to The Greater Boston Food Bank and The Low Country Food Bank for their dedication to helping organize resources for those in need. 

“We are so grateful to Vendr and its employees for their tremendous commitment to helping end hunger. This gift to The Greater Boston Food Bank will help us meet the increased need for food that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. More families and individuals are in need than ever before and financial support like this fuels us toward our mission to end hunger here.” - David Giagrando​, Senior Director of Development.

Here’s to an incredible 2021, including more savings, more volunteering, and guaranteeing that there’s a new way to buy software

 

Gabrielle Dalvet

Procurement

What our Series A means for the future of SaaS buying

We’re proud to announce that we raised $60 million at a $600 million valuation for our Series A. What we’re most excited about: Forever changing the way people buy and sell B2B SaaS.

We’ve all been there — we have a job to be done and need a SaaS product to solve for it. We find one we love, wait days to get a demo, spend hours trying to understand intricate pricing, and battle for weeks with finance, legal, and security to push the purchase through. On average, people spend 85 days — almost three months — slogging through the SaaS purchasing process.

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What if we lived in a world where anyone in a company could find and purchase the SaaS they need — transparently, instantly, and at a fair price, all while seamlessly and magically navigating the internal procurement process with finance, legal, and security? 

Buyers gain immediate access to pivotal tools and have time to focus on the work that matters. Sellers find the holy grail of sales: a 0-day sales cycle and 100% close rates. 

Enter Vendr.

Vendr Series A Boston Leadership Chau, Lilly, Stephanie, Ryan

Some members of Vendr's Boston-based leadership team, left to right:
Chau Nguyen, Lilly Bacher, Steph Prevost, and Ryan Neu

We are becoming the trusted way to buy (and sell) SaaS

Vendr launched in 2019 and in a mere two years, we’ve facilitated more than $300 million across 2,500+ SaaS transactions with 1,000+ SaaS suppliers. We’ve grown from a handful of people to over 50 in February of 2021. And in the last year, our revenue has grown at 5x — all while maintaining positive working capital. 

Here’s what some of our customers have to say about the Vendr experience:

"In my opinion, Vendr is the way that every high-growth company should be negotiating SaaS contracts."

— Dave Vital, Finance at Drift

"Vendr helps us align to a consistent process and frees up our time to handle higher-value work."

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"Vendr allows individuals to acquire software so much faster and with much greater efficiency - it's just a win-win for anybody."

— Peter Day, IT & Compliance at Mixpanel

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As for suppliers, we aim to create an environment where every salesperson who sees Vendr on a deal breathes a sigh of relief, knowing we’ll help them close quickly. We know our approach works when we receive comments like this one daily: 

“It was a pleasure working with you on this process, thanks again for making it so predictable and streamlined. Hope we get to work with you and Vendr again.” 

We’re the ultimate mediator, cutting through the noise on both the buy and sell-side to find the fastest path to what both parties need and want. And it’s working.

 

The investors joining us in our Series A

Today marks another proof point in our journey as we’ve secured a $60 million Series A led by Tiger Global, with help from existing investors Craft Ventures, Garage Capital, Sound Ventures, and Y Combinator.

We’re very thankful to be sharing this news. It’s inspiring to be working with such prominent firms to build out a better B2B world, focused on the buyer.

We plan to use our funding to expand our product within the Vendr platform and grow the business internationally to support our ever-increasing list of global customers. 

The market shows no signs of slowing, with COVID-19 leaving a lasting impact and focus on capital efficiency. Gartner projects enterprise SaaS to reach $505 billion in 2021 and increase by 9.5% year over year. New SaaS solutions will continue to appear and companies will continue to purchase them to optimize the friction-filled nuances of their business.

All of which gives us even more motivation to continue our mission.

 

The frictionless B2B world we’re building

Our Founder and CEO Ryan Neu first encountered the pain points that inspired Vendr after a decade of selling SaaS at some of the world’s fastest-growing companies. “I experienced the inefficiencies of buying and selling SaaS firsthand,” Neu said. “It amazed me how challenging it was to transact. I decided it was time to create a new way to close B2B purchases, starting with SaaS.”

We hope to cure the friction that exists for all parties involved in a B2B SaaS transaction, including the core buyer, stakeholders in finance, legal, and security, and the supplier. We believe there is a win-win scenario in every deal and we know when it’s possible with the right information from all sides. 

Our dream is to build a world where purchasing SaaS as an employee of even the most complex companies is as simple as buying a smoothie with your smartphone — like magic.

Vendr Series A Chau, Ryan, Stephanie, Lilly

What this means for our customers

We’ll always continue to be obsessed with saving our customers money and promoting kindness as a competitive advantage. Beyond those core principles, we are excited to double down on building out our product as a major resource for customers to tap into as they shop, buy, renew, and assess their SaaS stack.