What Is a Smart Process?
Sorry, wrong question. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and first take a look at a broader term - “automation.”
What Is Automation?
Automation is when something gets automated, right? Right. Also, when we say that something got automated, it means that it used to be done manually before, which is another clue to the whole understanding of the concept of automation.
Here’s a real-life example explaining this concept better than any 500-page book.
Let’s say that every morning you pack and grab your backpack right before you leave the house. The items you put in there are practically the same every day:
Bottle of water
Pair of socks (for whatever reason)
This process is so routine it's become automatic - to the point where you almost do it without thinking.
But then, one morning, you pick up your backpack and realize it's kinda light. Now, why might that be? You look inside to see what items are there and quickly realize you forgot to put your laptop. You find it, put it in the backpack, and swiftly leave the house.
Well, guess what? We’ve just simulated intelligent automation. But that’s still far too removed from a business environment - and that why we have example #2.
Let’s say you have an accountant (who doesn’t these days?) named Mary. Like most accountants, she handles tons of invoices, monetary transactions, liabilities, checks, ledgers, and other financial documents on a daily basis.
At the end of every day, Mary has to copy certain information from these documents (e.g., invoice ID, transaction sum, date of processing, etc.), put it together in a spreadsheet, and email it to you, the boss.
Everything would be fine if it:
didn’t take Mary almost an hour every day to complete
didn’t lead to some missing info and mistakes here and there (Mary is a human after all and is perfectly capable of making a mistake)
Obviously, there must be another way to go about this - enter automation. Automation involves taking a computer algorithm designed to do simple, repetitive tasks and teaching it to adapt or correct its performance based on a lot of changing conditions at incredible speed and scale. Not AI per se, but pretty darn close.
In Mary’s case, it could be a special kind of software that would allow her to pre-program a sequence of standard actions and set the algorithm in motion based on certain triggers. Every time a new invoice comes in, the algorithm pulls out all the necessary information, adds it to the daily report, and emails it to the specified address at the specified time.
And that’s where we got awfully close to a smart process. Now, what is it exactly?
What Is a Smart Process?
A smart process is any business process that has a beginning, an end, and a set number of stages in between. The word “smart” means that it’s automated - partly or fully. That’s why you may sometimes hear the term “smart process automation” as well, which refers to the technology used to create smart processes.
What’s the Difference Between RPA and SPA?
If you’ve been doing some research on the topic, you may have heard the term RPA used whenever someone mentions automation. So what’s the difference between RPA (robotic process automation) and SPA (smart process automation)?
RPA is a technology that works strictly within the confines of the ”if this, then that” logic. Being the most primitive form of automation, it can be used for handling rule-based tasks (e.g., maintaining records, entering pre-structured data into a database, or performing complex calculations).
You can program an algorithm to perform these tasks because they are logical and the steps are quite clear: if a particular condition or set of conditions are met, the algorithm is directed to do something in response.
SPA is a logical development of the RPA technology since it retains all of the features from the latter while building on top of that. SPA brings two new elements into the picture:
human in the loop (which means that in certain cases called “exceptions”, the system might require input from a human before proceeding)
machine learning (based on the information received from a “human in the loop”, the system alters its behavior in similar situations in the future adapting itself to the changing environment)
RPA has been in use since as early as the 1970s while SPA is still a fresh technology that’s only starting to gain its momentum. And gain it will!
Why Do Businesses Need Smart Processes?
Well, if you’ve been paying attention to the first part of the article, the answer should be pretty clear - smart processes allow businesses to save TIME and MONEY. Here’s how it works.
When you replace a standard business process in your company with a smart process, the following changes are bound to happen almost immediately:
your employees get to save up a few extra hours per week
you decrease the risks of a job being done wrong (or something getting overlooked)
your workflows get streamlined
At first, it doesn’t seem much. You may be thinking “yeah, well, I get to optimize some stuff here and there, what’s the big deal?”. You’re not thinking big enough. Much like little expenses, little savings do have a tendency to add up by the end of a month, quarter, year, and so on.
What if you could automate some tasks and processes that you had to pay some other company for? For example, you can easily automate things like lead generation, Facebook ad campaigns, cold-calling, and so on.
Ultimately, it all boils down to a certain monetary value that can be easily measured - we’ve got some cold hard stats to drive our point home. Here’s data we pulled from a 2021 Key Business Automation Statistics report
Small and medium enterprises are expected to adopt business workflow automation on a large scale, creating a market of opportunity of more than US$ 1.6 billion between 2021-2026
CEOs spend almost 20% of their time on work that could be automated, such as analyzing operational data and reviewing status reports
Using automation, 60% of occupations could save 30% of their time on tasks like generating sales leads, approving paperwork, and processing documents
Organizations lose 20 to 30% of revenue every year due to inefficient processes
Big corporations and tech giants realized it long ago - companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have been using smart process automation for nearly a decade. Now it’s time for small businesses to get ahold of this technology.
Smart Processes in Bitrix24 CRM: A Revolution?
Seeing the ever-increasing demand from our clients, we sent our dev team on a mission to create a tool that would take automation in sales to the next level. The guys worked really hard on that one and came up with Bitrix24 Smart Processes - a tool that we recently premiered during the course of our May 2021 release presentation.
Our Smart Processes are geared towards sales and exist solely within Bitrix24 CRM. Sounds a bit like technical mumbo-jumbo to you? Fair enough, let’s explain it in simpler terms (based on the assumption that you know what a CRM is).
Since no two businesses have identical sales processes and workflows, we often hear from our clients that they have to adapt our deals, leads or quotes to their internal processes. That’s where Smart Processes come in.
Bitrix24 Smart Process is a customizable type of element in our CRM that allows you to create your own work scenarios. Using Smart Processes, you can set up:
You can use some of our templates or go ahead and create a smart process from scratch. You can also link your smart process to other CRM entities, calendars, tasks, and even task templates.
pipelines and sales funnels
stages and Kanban
automation rules and triggers
default access permissions for pipelines
“Now, that’s all good and great but how about a real-life example?” some of you might ask. Sure, why not?
Example of a Smart Process in Bitrix24
Let’s say you run a recruiting agency. Sure, you could easily use CRM for your sales processes but that’s not the only type of process you have to deal with. What if you’re just dying to use CRM for something that’s not sales? Bitrix24 is here to help.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, you can create a new smart process within Bitrix24 - all you have to do is configure its components, set the required fields, enable CRM bindings by selecting the entities you want to link to this new process - and it’s ready to go! Let’s apply this logic to our case.
Since it’s HIRING Process (and not SALES), the default stages won’t do. We need to have custom stage names like Incoming Resumes, Screened Candidates, Interviewed Candidates, and others, all of which you can easily create in our Smart Process editor.
Next, we also need to have custom fields for our candidates. In our case, it could be the candidate’s name, the position they’re applying for, links to their social media profiles, date of birth, a field called “resume” that should have their resume file attached, and any other fields you might want to add.
Now that we’ve added a couple of new candidates, we’ve got them all in the Incoming Resumes stage and then some of them get screened, interviewed, made an offer, and finally accepted! As this happens, our candidates move from one stage to another filling in your vacancies.
Any custom entity inside your CRM can be configured to work with all our rules, triggers, or webhooks. For example, you can send an email or a text message automatically to an applicant who's been invited to an interview. Just set it up once and it will work for you automatically from then on.
That does it for our quick look at smart process automation, why it is so important, and how it actually works in a real-life business situation. Do not underestimate the power of a good smart process as it can really help to take some weight off your shoulders, optimize quite a few workflows, and save you some money along the way.
If you're ready to see what Smart Process Automation can do for your business, why not create a free account with Bitrix24 and explore all of the possibilities provided by the service.