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What is DPA, and how is it Impacting the Manufacturing Industry?

May 12, 2021 Danny Y

Harness the power of DPA to digitize and alleviate tasks that are dragging down your customer experience and hurting your team’s productivity.

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The manufacturing industry is no stranger to process automation. In fact, the manufacturing industry is recognized as the inventor of automation. 

So, it’s no surprise that many manufactures have adopted automation within their production facilities and in their warehouses. Automating product creation and order fulfillment has freed up staff to work on more value-added tasks throughout the business. 

Manufacturing doesn’t run on warehouses and assembly lines alone, though. There is a host of back-office tasks - from sales and marketing to payroll and procurement - that support the development of the products that the business depends on. 

Here, too, automation can offer the levels of efficiency and speed that businesses experience on the factory floor. Digital transformation initiatives are making that an even stronger proposition. 

Manufacturers have long embraced business process automation (BPM) for many tasks. Others still required human intervention along the path and were left alone. Today, however, intelligent manufacturers are leveraging Digital Process Automation (DPA) to bridge processes that require human intervention but are peppered with automation opportunities. 

What is Digital Process Automation? Is it different than Robotic Process Automation? And what will it mean for the manufacturing industry? 

What is Digital Process Automation?

Digital Process Automation - or DPA - isn’t about just any automation. Specifically, digital process automation is geared toward improving processes so that the end-user experience is better, faster, or enhanced. 

More accurate orders? Check.

Better visibility for customers into order processing? Check.

Speedier order to delivery timelines? Check. 

Automations that help with these things - alerts, inventory transparency, faster order entry - are DPA. 

It also isn’t about automating an entire process, end-to-end, and completely removing the human element. And that’s a good thing. Why? Because there are plenty of business processes that can’t be fully automated. They require human action at some point along the way to take an action, make a decision, make a connection, and more. 

That doesn’t mean that every step of a process needs human action, and for some tasks - those ripe for a DPA - the removal of the human activity eliminates unnecessary delays or issues. This speeds up processes, reduces errors, and overall improves customer satisfaction. 

How so? Imagine a sales process where a sales rep takes an order, puts it into Salesforce, gets approval for a discount from their leader, and sends it along to the warehouse or factory for processing. At the same time, finance handles preparing the invoice and managing customer payment. 

Many steps in here may require human action - the approval of the discount, for example. But there are any number of other processes that will not: the hand-off from order entry into Salesforce to the factory floor for production and the billing group for payments. 

Let’s imagine, further, that discounts of less than 25% are automatically approved. In our all-human-action scenario, there are delays between order entry and when the leader sees and reviews the discount, and when the order gets started in the factory. That entire time the customer is waiting for their order, and finance is waiting to bill them. But the human actions are still needed for sales, approvals, even invoice review. 

With DPA, those elements that can be digitized and automated; are. When the sales rep enters the order with a 20% discount into Salesforce, an automation could be triggered to review the discount amount and send it through to the factory and the back office if it doesn’t meet the approval threshold. There could even be automation to verify the inventory of raw materials or notifications to procurement for purchasing if a material is getting low. Finance might receive an alert from the company’s ERP when the customer’s order is ready to ship, so there is minimal delay in revenue realization.

Each of these steps marries the human team and their heuristic decision-making and nuanced situational management with the automation of tasks that improve the customer experience by accelerating the process through automation. 

The possibilities for DPA are numerous, and the benefits, significant: 

  • Customer responsiveness increases
  • Products are delivered faster
  • Customer experiences are improved
  • Costs are reduced
  • Overhead is better managed
  • Errors are minimized
  • Employees have greater job satisfaction

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“DPA’s central focus is improving the customer experience, and so every process that is automated should be designed with that end in mind.”

  • Danny Y
  • Solutions Architect
  • Six Consulting, Inc.
90% adoption rate

of RPA by 2022

$2 bn

RPA revenue by 2021

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