In the modern digital world, businesses and organizations strive to adopt the latest technology and digitize their core business functions to improve productivity, stay in the competition, and achieve perpetual growth. Technology helps streamline major business operations to give optimal results.
Technology has brought tremendous advantages to businesses of all types, including B2B, B2C, and C2C businesses. Business process automation is the first step towards digital transformation, which opens the business to new technology horizons like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology. In this article, we will discuss eight core business processes a B2B business can automate to drive productivity and achieve continuous growth.
Why Business Process Automation?
Business process automation (BPA) essentially is the digitalization of all processes otherwise carried out manually. Digitalization provides efficient access to information, reduces human errors, eliminates repetitive work, and streamlines processes. It facilitates the creation of new products and services and helps managers and decision-makers monitor business activities and forecast business growth. BPA helps businesses reduce costs and increase revenues while optimizing resources.
Here are eight core business processes a B2B business can automate to achieve sustainable growth:
1. Quoting Process
The Quoting process involves communicating with various businesses to negotiate prices, terms of service, and payment schedules. Quoting process is a core function of sales, but it is also closely associated with the finance department. Configure price quote software (CPQ) helps B2B businesses standardize the entire product pricing process and automate every step in the quoting cycle. Some of the best CPQ software like BluLogix assist businesses in configuring standardized service catalogs and creating quotations for a wide range of B2B customers with varying requirements. BluLogix can be easily integrated with the existing sales and finance modules of ERP and SCM systems. Automating the quoting process facilitates businesses in maintaining up-to-date product and service catalogs, pricing information, discounts, etc., and tracking sales invoices.
Finance is the backbone of any business. Most B2B businesses sell products and services to other businesses in bulk. Hence, their financial data must be handled cautiously to avoid repetition and insertion of incorrect numbers. Finance departments are typically highly structured and require close coordination with all business processes.
When automating a finance process, businesses must first identify all of the company’s functions where critical financial information must be transferred.
Automating finance processes allows accountants and finance managers to keep a digital ledger of accounts and monitor each account payable and receivable. The pending sales and purchase invoices are automatically converted into payables and receivables. With automated financial processes, managers can keep a check on available financial resources, payable debts, and depreciation of assets. All financial reports can be generated instantly, giving financial experts a stronger insight into the company’s financial situation.
Sourcing or procurement is one of the most important business processes for any B2B business. Automating this process allows businesses to optimize their raw material inventory, choose the best supplier, and minimize shipment delays. Automating the entire procurement process involves keeping a database of all available suppliers, comparing and processing quotations, choosing a supplier and a logistics provider, generating purchase invoices, sourcing raw materials, warehousing, and making payments.
Automation facilitates auto-generating purchase orders, re-ordering materials, generating notifications if the inventory reaches replenishment levels, creating a purchasing schedule for a set period, and monitoring material delivery. Automation allows businesses to manage just-in-time (JIT) inventory to optimize warehouse space, reduce operational costs, and increase agility.
4. Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing are the drivers of business growth. Marketing is equally important for both B2B and B2C businesses. Businesses must reach target customers more effectively to increase sales and revenues. With digital marketing trends growing throughout the globe, B2B businesses can use automated systems to create email campaigns, discover potential business opportunities, improve customer support services, and automate tasks on social media like automatic post scheduling, content sharing, welcome notes for new followers, and using AI-powered chatbots to respond to customer queries efficiently.
Automating the entire Sales process allows B2B businesses to generate automatic proposals, create quotations, allocate sales quota, monitor sales representatives, track sales orders, and integrate invoicing with financial modules. It helps businesses keep track of their sales and monitor their performance. It also helps them create new strategies, conduct market surveys, and take necessary steps to improve the existing product or launch a new one.
5. Inventory Control
Automating inventory management has far-reaching benefits for B2B businesses. As mentioned above, most B2B businesses require manufacturing products in bulk and selling them in batches and lots. With efficient warehouse management and inventory control systems, B2B businesses have a greater insight into the inventory levels and the entire manufacturing process. It also helps in identifying how early a shipment can be dispatched. With an inventory management system in place, decision-makers can determine the space needed to keep minimum inventory and optimize operational costs by implementing a just-in-time inventory policy.
6. Supply Chain Integration
B2B businesses must work closely with all supply chain partners to stay in the competition. Automating the supply chain helps businesses streamline the flow of important data related to sourcing, sales, logistics, and production. Supply chain integration allows information to be shared among suppliers, customers, and third-party logistics through information systems.
In some cases, the customers and suppliers of a B2B business integrate their sales and purchase system with the business’s ERP and SCM systems, which facilitates real-time information sharing and updating. With the inception of the internet of things (IoT), businesses can get minute-to-minute information from all stakeholders, which helps them improve supply chain agility and decrease delays.
7. Information Security
The digitalization of core business processes necessitates B2B businesses to invest in information security to keep digital assets safe from external or internal threats. The need for information security multiplies in integrated supply chains where real-time data between customers, suppliers, and businesses is shared over a public or private network.
Automating security protocols require businesses to install firewalls, encrypt information, or implement blockchain technology for critical financial transactions. With advanced technology, businesses can also opt for managed cloud security services wherein a third-party security service provider can monitor network traffic, encrypt critical data, and update network security protocols from a remote location.
8. Human Resources
A business that invests in employee training, recruiting talent, and caring for its employees’ well-being gets a high return on investment in terms of employee productivity, workplace cohesiveness, citizenship behavior, and employee satisfaction.
By automating human resource management, managers can streamline the recruitment process. They can generate automatic payroll, monitor employee performance, design training programs, and create policies for compensation, benefits, and annual increments. Automated HR systems enable managers to distribute tasks more effectively and evaluate employees’ performance concerning the assigned tasks.
With technology evolving rapidly, each day brings new opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive. Implementing technology in all business processes has far-reaching benefits for any business. B2B businesses reap the most benefits of technology as it facilitates close cohesion with all supply chain partners and stakeholders to stay ahead of the game and achieve sustainable growth. Business process automation allows decision-makers and managers to stay in control of the business and increase agility across the supply chain. Through step-by-step automation and business process integration, businesses can easily shift to automated business processes, streamline operations, reduce costs, and increase revenues. We hope this list will help you determine the key areas of your business that require automation and how this transformation can benefit it in the long run.