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7 Real-Life Business Process Automation Examples to Inspire Your Strategy

Elizabeth Bell, Appian
May 23, 2024

Think about the monotonous task of extracting data from sources like spreadsheets and emails and typing it into various systems. Repetitive tasks and manual workflows lurking inside business processes slow down teams, introduce human error, and erode employee engagement. Slow, ineffective processes can also kill an organization’s time to market and customer satisfaction.

That’s why IT and business leaders have increasingly turned to business process automation—a range of technologies that automate repetitive and manual tasks within an organization. Business process automation involves identifying, analyzing, and optimizing existing processes to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve accuracy.  It includes things like: 

Capabilities like these reduce the need for humans to perform hands-on, time-consuming tasks and pave the way for faster, more effective end-to-end processes. They also free up human resources, allowing them to focus on more value-added activities that require creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

See an example of automation that shows how a customer achieves better outcomes by integrating humans, systems, RPA, and AI:

Business process automation examples to inspire change in your organization

Business process automation is helping organizations overcome challenges in virtually every industry. How are your peers applying these process automation tools in the real world? Explore some common business process automation examples in the use cases below.

Find more examples in the guide: How 12 Industry Leaders Revolutionized Their Processes.

1. Financial services risk management

Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) is the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing house, and it plays a critical role in providing financial stability to market participants, investors, and the economy. Sound risk management is essential. OCC needed to move away from spreadsheets and emails and gain more visibility into the processes as a whole. 

They created nine critical risk management applications via a process automation platform using automation, data management, visibility through records, and one-click reporting. This ensures they have control and compliance validation embedded into these processes. In addition, they can quickly pull the documentation that auditors need to review their process decisions and actions.

2. Supply chain management

Ryder, one of the largest trucking companies in North America, was bogged down with paper-intensive processes across their business that relied on emails, mail, faxes, and phone calls. To increase efficiency, they used the Appian Platform to create applications to unify systems and processes across fleet management. The apps eliminate the need for paper-based processes and mobilize all document management, escalations, incident records, and end-to-end process management, from incident creation to invoicing. Since deploying the applications, Ryder has experienced a 50% reduction in rental transaction times and a 10x increase in customer satisfaction index responses.

Want expert advice on emerging issues in supply chain? Get the guide: 2023 Supply Chain Outlook

3. Healthcare invoice processing

Alexanier GmbH runs 27 hospitals of all levels of care. They wanted to reduce wait time between patient discharge and final invoice. So they used process mining (a capability of a process platform to help optimize processes) to identify inefficiencies and areas for process improvement. They were able to find root causes and streamline the process—and met their goal by reducing waiting time by about 80%.

Process automation platforms offer plenty of tools to optimize an invoice workflow. AI can categorize documents, extract information, make it available to anyone who needs access, and route data to another system. An RPA bot can automatically flag exceptions for review by a human. All of this automation leads to results like Alexanier GmbH saw: faster processes to improve the customer experience.

4. Public sector case management

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of food, drugs, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA set out to modernize and accelerate the drug application review and safety monitoring process to resolve issues stemming from siloed data across their core systems. 

With a low-code case management solution, the FDA developed an enterprise-level single source of truth to access regulatory review and safety monitoring applications; unify critical business data, analytics, and reporting tools in a single platform; and make consistent and on-time  informed regulatory decisions. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA saw an influx of thousands of new drug applications, all of which had to be approved or denied within 30 days. By leveraging a low-code case management solution, the FDA handles each application as a case and runs through an automated workflow spanning eight systems where data relevant to the process lives and needs up to 16 different approvals.

5. Insurance underwriting

CNA, a global property and casualty insurance company, wanted to unite the global business in a new underwriting process. Before they modernized underwriting with process automation, the process would take place across multiple systems. Underwriting resources were eaten up as employees tried to find data, keep spreadsheets up to date, and enter data over and over again across the multiple systems involved. This also added time and complexity to the analysis and pricing process, which slowed business. 

CNA built a new application that connected business partners across the world, which they could use to write local policy placements. Agents and underwriters could easily track the status of all policies in one platform. These old, inefficient processes became very efficient processes in one fell swoop, making it easier for their global business to communicate across time zones and languages, ultimately delivering a better experience for employees and customers.

6. Government procurement

The Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) Office of Procurement and Contract Services is responsible for the acquisition of all the goods and services used by the agency. The office was using several disconnected systems to manage hundreds of contracts, which led to a slow, manual contract award process.

The Office of Procurement and Contract Services used process automation to streamline its contract awards process from end to end, relying on capabilities like: 

  • A role-based award management dashboard to deliver a single view of all contract, vendor, and acquisition information

  • Alerts and notifications to ensure deliverables are completed on time

  • Automated end-to-end workflows that guide staff through the steps, documents, and approvals needed 

  • Integrated document editing 

  • An AI chatbot trained on agency data to quickly find answers to questions in procurement documentation

Now, the Office of Procurement and Contract Services has one centralized system where all information can be viewed by more than 10,000 stakeholders. They have both faster turnaround times and can also ensure the integrity of underlying contract data.

7. Telecommunications product delivery

Telus, a Canadian telecommunications company, needed to roll out their 5G network to customers. But the IT landscape supporting the work needed to pull from 11 legacy and external systems, a task that felt insurmountable without help. They used a process platform, including RPA to connect systems without APIs, to interface with these legacy systems and build one unified view of wireless operations and IT systems. Thanks to low-code design, they could develop workflows 10x faster than with traditional development. This let them meet customers’ expectations and demands, connect people faster and with fewer disruptions, and maintain network reliability both during the pandemic and well beyond.

Implement business process automation strategies for speed and agility

In the digital transformation era, spending time and energy on repetitive processes add up to a competitive disadvantage. But as these examples of automation demonstrate, process automation reduces this type of friction for both internal teams and customers. With a strong process automation strategy, organizations can finally see those increases in speed and agility that lead to a more resilient business.

Need guidance on where to begin with process automation? Check out our guide to achieving end-to-end process excellence