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There are levels to this

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Business Process Automation (BPA) cannot be applied in just one step; there are levels to automation, and full automation is getting closer.

Business Process Automation Model

Business Process Automation refers to transferring a process or task from human intervention to technical/software systems within a workflow. An entire process or task within a system gets automated through technology, and those automated components do not require any human intervention. In theory, it is a relatively simple concept, but there are levels to automation in practice.

The model shared in this article shows the different levels of business process automation. This model was adapted from Tesla’s levels of the autonomous driving model. Even an excellent car company like Tesla has not achieved level 5 yet. Tesla is making extreme progress in this area, and Elon Musk believes they will be capable of attaining level 4 automation within 2022.

Level 0: Manual

At level 0, no form of business process automation has been implemented. All tasks are being performed manually. This is generally a paper-based process, and all steps and validation involved are completed with human intervention.

Level 1: Attended

At this level, the automation journey starts. In-vehicle terms, this level is minor assistance to help the driver. Things like cruise control and blind-spot monitoring. Human intervention is still heavily required, but elements of robotic process automation or business process automation are at play.

Level 2: Batch

In business process automation, tasks are prepared and started through human intervention but completed in batches through software. More than a single task in a process gets automated at this level. The entire process is not automated yet, but key elements can be performed in batches. In-vehicle terms, this would be automated parking. The vehicle can perform a set of tasks autonomously with some observation.

Level 3: Unattended

At this level, automation really starts taking over a process. A business process at level 3 starts to become fully automated. Most of the tasks are performed through technology with manual intervention when required. In-vehicle terms, this would manifest as automated driving on highways. The vehicle is capable of driving within a range of set parameters.

Level 4: Intelligent

At this level, automation is starting to learn. It is also referred to as Intelligent Process Automation or Smart Process Automation. The automated process can collect and analyse data. The process behaviours and outcomes can be adapted automatically by analysing the process and the data consumed. This is the level that Tesla, as a vehicle manufacturer, is pursuing. The vehicle can learn from the driver and past inputs to improve future performance.

Level 5: Full

This level is rarely achievable in any form of automation, for now. With the innovation and progress in technologies such as Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, some processes are close to being capable of full level 5 automation.

Not all processes can or should be automated to a full level 5 standard. And the goal of the levels is not to delete human intervention. The goal is to improve processes and make them as efficient as possible by removing mundane and repeating tasks. This enables workers to focus on more critical areas, ensuring efficiency and growth.

Charl Coetsee

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