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Low-Code Business Process Automation: A Blueprint for Success

Roland Alston, Appian
November 27, 2023

In the age of rapid innovation, organizations are increasingly adopting low-code business process automation (BPA) to meet demand for speedy custom application delivery and seamless digital workflows. As a result, global demand for low-code automation platforms (LCAPs) is expected to surpass $12 billion in 2024, a significant increase from the $10 billion analysts anticipated for 2023.

So what does the ascendance of BPA tell us about the evolution of innovation? In the past, software was arguably the most inflexible operational component of most large organizations. However, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed immutable software as a competitive disadvantage. Flexibility and agility is the new expectation. 

Read on to learn what low-code BPA is, its use cases, why it’s more relevant today than ever, and why you need it to keep up with the blistering pace of disruption.

Get the Process Automation Guide and learn how to successfully implement end-to-end process automation strategies.

Basically, BPA involves automating processes to minimize the need for human intervention. But when human input and judgment are required, software bots that only automate repetitive tasks (such as robotic process automation bots) aren’t enough—at least, not on their own. That’s where BPA comes into play. As part of a broader business process management (BPM) strategy, BPA automates discrete tasks and complex end-to-end business processes or workflows. These processes often include routine, rule-based tasks that are time-consuming and prone to errors when performed manually.

Let's look at some examples:

  • Invoice processing: When a vendor invoice arrives, BPA can automatically scan, validate, and route it for approval. This eliminates manual data entry and speeds up the payment process.
  • Employee onboarding: BPA can streamline the onboarding process by automating the creation of business user accounts, provisioning access to systems, and sending welcome emails to new hires.
  • Customer support ticket routing: Instead of manually assigning customer support tickets to agents, BPA can intelligently route them based on factors like issue type, customer priority, and agent availability.
  • Inventory management: BPA can track inventory levels in real time and trigger reorders when stock reaches predefined thresholds.
  • Data entry and validation: In data-intensive industries like finance or healthcare, BPA can automate data entry tasks, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring data accuracy.

Get the Gartner® Market Guide for Business Process Automation Tools to explore critical use cases for BPA.

Unlocking the potential of BPA.

CEOs are facing an unprecedented 200% surge in disruptive forces that shows no signs of slowing down. Rapid application development now stands as the linchpin for organizational success. 

Low-code platforms unlock immense potential, especially when seamlessly integrating complex AI technologies into digital workflows. Leading low-code platforms have fully embraced AI, boosting productivity for professional developers and even citizen developers and expediting the creation of automated, shareable, and reusable workflows.  

Across all industries, teams engaged in change management and digital transformation projects are working with complex, often long-standing business processes. A complex process involves many dependencies that can add to excessive documentation, errors, and technical debt. That’s where BPA comes into play. Coupling BPA with a low-code automation platform can accelerate your digital transformation journey.

Learn how low-code tools lower the barrier to AI functionality.

Low-code and BPA: a dynamic duo.

With low-code automation, each stage of BPA can be handled rapidly without sacrificing security or functionality. Modeling tools allow for precise, intuitive workflow design, and low-code development makes building and executing those workflows much easier.

Ongoing maintenance is simplified with robust data collection in a central location and fast and easy adjustments to low-code components. Built-in and externally verified compliance and security functionality serves to future-proof your processes against a wide range of challenges, whether it’s new regulations, customer demands, or an unforeseen crisis.

Choosing a low-code business process automation solution.

Here’s a checklist of questions to ask:

  • RPA integration: Are there native RPA capabilities, or will you have to do clunky, manual coding when integrating tools? 
  • Availability: Can you offer the functions you need from a single unified platform rather than asking teams to deal with multiple decentralized solutions?
  • Ease of use and reusability: Are the drag-and-drop interfaces and visual design tools usable for any team member, with the option to reuse and customize low-code components as business needs evolve?
  • Backwards compatibility: Will the low-code development platform, keep up as new regulations and security standards emerge while ensuring existing apps and workflows keep running?

Whether it's streamlining complex processes, optimizing workflows, or enhancing customer and employee experiences, the synergy between low-code solutions and BPA propels digital transformation to new heights, providing end-to-end process visibility, automating tasks with precision, monitoring performance in real time, and ensuring scalability and adaptability in a dynamic business landscape. The payoff comes in the form of operational agility that helps you stay relevant and future-proofs your organization against emerging risks and unforeseen challenges.

In a world where keeping up with the rapid pace of digital innovation is an existential challenge, the imperative becomes clear: to thrive in 2024 and beyond, businesses must harness the power of low-code BPA. 

Is your organization fighting disconnected islands of automation? For a better approach, check out the Process Automation Guide.