Business Process Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation
Business Process Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation
Published By :
Jimmy Hewitt March 2, 2023
Business process automation and robotic process automation are both types of business automation that serve the purpose of streamlining your operations. Both types of automation work to improve the efficiency, accuracy and speed of your organization’s processes, but they differ in how they accomplish these goals.
With various differences and similarities between business process automation and robotic process automation, it may seem challenging to know which is right for your business processes. You’ll find all the information you need below to get you closer to making a confident decision on how to move forward for your business.
What Is Business Process Automation?
Business process automation (BPA), also commonly referred to as Business process management, Workflow, Workflow Automation, or Workflow Orchestration, offers a holistic approach to business automation. BPA software improves the accuracy and speed of end-to-end processes and tasks. It also includes features that can support a business’s management at a high level, including orchestration capabilities, process modeling and other features that support analytics and collaboration.
BPA is more than an automation tool. The overall goal of BPA is to give you a complete toolbox for optimizing, monitoring and building business workflows and processes. Here is a closer look at the main features of BPA:
Process modeling: BPA software can repeat the process that users teach it. These processes require simple coding, so users can change them quickly and without giving too much work to the IT department.
Process orchestration: One of the best business process management examples for boosting efficiency is process orchestration. BPA software can unify systems, apps, information and people across departments and teams to create harmonious, seamless processes that enhance collaboration.
Integrations: BPA software integrates data to remove the need for repetitive entry. BPA also ensures a satisfying user experience for employees and customers alike while eliminating data silos.
Collaboration support: Collaboration is key in any business, and a major goal of BPA is to enhance and support collaboration efforts. BPA owners have the power to grant access to any user in their businesses to ensure the achievement of the process goal. Any user with permission can then access the software and engage in visible channels of communication with other relevant users.
Rules and conditionals: Users can set up rules and permissions in the BPA software to prevent incomplete or missing information. BPA can automatically send work items to the next stage of the workflow process, which keeps activities efficient and reduces the loss of work items.
Reporting and analytics: BPA allows users to create reports and customizable dashboards that help them track process health, drive business strategy and measure key performance indicators and metrics.
Business Activities That Can Be Automated With BPA
Now that you know what BPA can do, you may be picturing how you can use those BPA examples in your own company. Because of BPA’s holistic approach to business automation, you can customize it to meet your specific needs. BPA is highly flexible across industries, so your exact solution may look different than another business’s solutions.
Broadly speaking, here are some business activities you can automate with BPA:
Meeting complex goals that include reducing error rates, improving user experiences and orchestrating processes across workflows.
Optimizing processes with several possible outcomes, including service requests and case management.
Automating workflows and tasks that often change or vary in their nature.
Automating processes that are more complex including employee onboarding and procurement.
What Is Robotic Process Automation?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a block of code generated for the completion of a specific task according to the rules of the program. These blocks of code are also called RPA bots or scripts.
The purpose of RPA bots is to mimic the same tasks that a human would otherwise accomplish. Logging into applications, copying data, pasting data, reading invoices and matching items in a system are all examples of functions of RPA bots.
To successfully deploy RPA solutions for your business, a subject matter expert must thoroughly document the task that will be automated. Next, a user or IT specialist converts the steps of the task into lines of code, including all information and rules necessary for the RPA bot to accomplish the specified action.
Understand that in RPA, one RPA bot automates one specific task. You’ll need multiple RPA bots to automate multiple tasks if that’s what you’re looking to accomplish.
Business Activities That Can Be Automated With RPA
Any task that’s error-prone, repetitive, high-volume, rules-based and time-consuming is a great candidate for RPA. Your employees spend a great deal of time performing these tasks when RPA bots could be doing them instead, saving your business time and money.
Here are some of the main tasks RPA bots can perform accurately, quickly and at any time of day:
Accounting: Daily RPA processes update the rates of central banks. The RPA bot can access financial market data, download it and upload the latest currencies. This option saves time for financial analysts, especially during critical times throughout the fiscal year and monthly budgeting situations. Your company can also have more confidence knowing there’s a verifiable trail should an internal or external audit occur.
Banking: An RPA bot can navigate legacy applications, sort through records, prioritize credit dispute cases and email a report. Then, when a financial analyst arrives at the start of the work day, the to-do report will be waiting for their review. RPA bots can encrypt sensitive data while helping you meet regulatory deadlines.
Retail: RPA bots can transfer remote cash desk data into your systems, load the data and create a report overnight. This ability removes the need for analysts to wait several hours to read store sales reports for greater sales optimization.
Telecom: RPA can help your telecommunication businesses better meet their market’s demands. RPA bots can scour the internet for the phone and mobile plan prices of competitors. With these insights, RPA bots can update your telecommunication company’s offerings. This action reduces the need for analytics and can give your company a profit boost by ensuring you’re offering the best prices to your customers.
Human resources: Human resources departments can use RPA for new employee onboarding. The RPA bot can create new accounts, order laptops and notify managers, lightening the load for your human resources employees.
Healthcare: RPA bots can upload patient data from a hospital’s local database to a national database. You get a meticulous audit trail, which is essential when moving patient records. RPA bots can also avoid duplicate data entry, which gives doctors more time to spend on patient care instead of recordkeeping and data transferring.
IT: Many IT departments have their work cut out for them. RPA can make their jobs easier by automating certain tasks including changing passwords. RPA bots can store these updated passwords in a credential vault. Automating password rotation every month or quarter can keep a business’s data more secure without any added strain on the IT department.
Which Is Right for You? Business Process Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation
As a business develops a management strategy, it becomes clear that BPA and RPA are both important options to consider. So, which is right for your business? Here are some of the main differences between BPA and RPA to help you narrow down your options:
Definition: BPA is a holistic way to automate business processes. RPA is software that uses RPA bots to automate a specific process or task, one for each bot.
Scope: BPA is much broader in scope than RPA, focusing on organization-wide automation. RPA focuses on the automation of specific tasks on a more minute scale.
Requirements for evaluation: BPA requires a complete end-to-end review of stakeholders and business processes. RPA has far fewer requirements for evaluation since it can be performed on specific tasks within specific departments or divisions within your business.
Implementation timeframe: BPA can take a lot of time to implement in your business, as it’s a holistic process you have to build from the ground up. RPA requires few outside approvals and little expanded review, as you can apply it to a single identified task.
Resource requirements: BPA requires more resources due to its implementation time and wider scope. It requires greater collaboration, time and money to complete. RPA needs fewer resources because it demands less integration with other processes from other departments thanks to its smaller scope.
Integration: To get the most out of BPA, you must heavily integrate it throughout your business’s workflows, enterprise systems, partner programs and third-party vendor applications. RPA’s main purpose is to replace time-consuming tasks with software, so implementing it leads to little disruption of current business processes. You can also easily integrate it with other software your business currently uses.
Workflow: The purpose of both BPA and RPA is to streamline a business workflow. The main difference is the automation itself. BPA programs are holistic, collecting and sharing data between workflows and systems through data extraction. RPA collects data from an existing interface like a website or user interface screen, which is a much simpler process overall.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using BPA vs. RPA
BPA and RPA have their share of advantages and disadvantages.
BPA is holistic in approach and large in scale, which can make it the centerpiece of your business-wide automation endeavors. BPA makes collaboration easier across departments, giving you an entire toolbox from which you can increase your business’s efficiency. You can automate complex processes with BPM and make employees’ workflows easier and more manageable.
Despite these advantages, BPA can be expensive and time-consuming to launch for your business. BPA demands more resources, so you must consider whether your business can afford them — be they financial or time-related resources.
RPA has many advantages for businesses, including freeing up employees so they can devote their time to higher-value work. RPA is also easy and cost-efficient to implement, adding to its appeal.
Conversely, RPA only automates specific tasks and lacks the larger scope of BPA. A single RPA bot can only perform one function, so it may lack the scope you need for your business.
Deciding Between Business Process Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation
Both BPA and RPA have an appropriate time and place for use within an organization. The one you choose depends on your business’s unique situation. You must first consider the scope of the challenge you want to overcome via automation. Then, you can better decide which program is right for achieving your business goals.
Here are some actions you can take to help you know whether BPA or RPA is right for your business:
Determine the quality and nature of your operational data and how much value it could deliver.
Audit your IT infrastructure to assess your company’s digital maturity.
Find the processes and workflows throughout your business that need improvement.
Determine the feasibility of business automation for your business by talking to external consultants and company stakeholders.
Set SMART goals for your automation objectives — “SMART” stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive.
Collaborate with your IT department or external automation partners to select appropriate automation technologies for your business and goals.
Make sure your solution allows your company to achieve its goals as simply as possible.
Create a framework for automation security, quality assurance and governance.
Make a complete automation implementation plan that includes each stage of the process, including the proof of concept stage, initial deployment of your automation solution, continual analysis of user feedback and gradual rollouts of automation across company departments.
Be open to strategically combining solutions to meet your goals. Every business has different needs, and many find that combining BPA and RPA is the key to reaching their goals. Stay flexible with your approach and talk about your automation goals with experts to find the solution that’s right for your company.
As technology continues to develop, more and more businesses will start relying on automation to give them an edge over their competition. Make sure you’re keeping up and automating appropriate processes in your business to save time and money. Contact us today for more information, or browse our resources to take a more in-depth dive into the topic of process automation.