Workflow Automation vs. RPA

Workflow Automation vs. RPA

Published By : Jimmy Hewitt January 19, 2023
Workflow Automation vs. RPA

Businesses in all industries use specific workflows to complete tasks. Work activities follow particular procedures to transform inputs into outputs. From customer communication to employee onboarding and anything between, business procedures require consistent and efficient workflows.

Two strategies for improving workflows are workflow automation and robotic process automation (RPA). Workflow automation streamlines work activities by automating and connecting systems. RPA automates individual tasks. In other words, workflow automation approaches entire workflows and systems, while RPA focuses on single tasks. 

Both workflow automation and RPA can increase productivity and customer satisfaction. By learning more about each option, you can select the one that suits your business best.

What Is Workflow Automation?

Workflow automation is the process of streamlining work procedures to meet specific business processes and rules. It automates the flow of work across different activities, allowing organizations to function more efficiently. Overall, workflow automation improves procedures in all components of work activities. 

Typically, workflow automation involves software. Various technologies can complete part of or entire procedures. For instance, many companies use artificial intelligence (AI) or logic-based software programs to automate workflows. These tools use predefined business rules from existing documents and work procedures to complete tasks automatically.

Businesses use workflow automation to streamline repetitive and administrative processes. In turn, employees can focus on higher-priority tasks and raise productivity levels. You can integrate workflow automation into daily routines, boosting overall efficiency in a wide range of tasks.

Workflow Automation Examples

Workflow automation can benefit many industries and applications. Organizations can use the method to enhance their business operations and eliminate unnecessary workloads.

Here are some examples of workflow automation usage in various industries:

  • Manufacturing: The manufacturing industry relies on precise inventory numbers to regulate movement through the supply chain. By implementing workflow automation, manufacturing officials can reduce manual errors and improve accuracy throughout all levels of production. For instance, you could integrate workflow automation to streamline purchase and budget approval cycles. A more efficient flow could simplify the flow between a purchase request and communication to the supply chain by automatically transferring the request. That way, employees can fulfill orders more quickly and eliminate the capacity for human error through manual entry.
  • Marketing: Marketing officials can find many useful applications for workflow automation. The marketing industry uses many different procedures for campaigns, customer communication, metric analysis and other essential processes. You can implement workflow automation into existing systems and methods. For instance, many marketing employees use email as a primary form of communication. You could implement a process that automatically sends emails at specific intervals, eliminating the need for manual submissions. Then, employees could work on other responsibilities that require more thought and attention.
  • Information security: The information security field requires rapid and comprehensive responses to keep networks secure. Officials can integrate workflow automation with their existing procedures to create more thorough responses. By automating security tools, it becomes easier to manage cloud ecosystems. For example, workflow automation software could help you create a centralized location for creating and deploying business security networks. The software might automatically alert you of suspicious activities or take preventive actions.
  • Human resources: Human resources departments manage many employee records, from personal information to benefits details to time-off requests. Workflow automation can assist with redundant data entry procedures, allowing human resources professionals to focus on more intensive tasks.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Workflow Automation

Integrating workflow automation into company procedures can bring many advantages. Here are a few examples:

  • Improved efficiency: One of the primary benefits of workflow automation is its enhanced efficiency. The software resolves mundane and time-consuming tasks, allowing employees to focus their efforts on more productive responsibilities. For instance, teams can strategize and approach industry challenges rather than completing manual data entry. In addition, automated procedures can quicken workflows overall. Without the need for human input or approval, tasks can immediately move to the next step once completed.
  • Lower costs: Workflow automation can also reduce company expenses. Your organization can use fewer resources on manual procedures. In addition, more efficient workflows can boost overall revenue rates. The more productive employees are, the more your company can meet important metrics.
  • Enhanced accuracy: Automated procedures can increase accuracy throughout various workflows. You can reduce the possibility of errors by implementing an automated solution. For instance, you could improve a workflow to automatically transfer customer records throughout the ordering process, rather than employees manually entering them each time.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: With more efficient and accurate workflows, you can boost customer satisfaction and enjoyment. Employees can focus on high-value procedures that bring genuine change and improvement. Many companies apply workflow automation to their customer service procedures. For example, you could implement automated replies to customer inquiries or concerns. Streamlined procedures like these allow you to interact more directly with every customer. In turn, you can create stronger relationships and raise customer satisfaction.
  • Easier performance tracking: Workflow automation helps you digitize each step in a workflow. Your company can view work procedures from beginning to end and identify areas that need growth or different approaches. As you implement new flows, you can track them directly and adjust them as needed.

However, you might encounter a few disadvantages during workflow automation implementation and use, like:

  • Complicated setup: Some companies might find the setup process for workflow automation confusing or challenging. You have to analyze existing procedures and organize them into typical flows. New software can also be challenging to adopt and understand. A trusted service provider can help your company transition into automated workflows more smoothly.
  • Potential for miscommunication: Automated workflows can also create miscommunication among departments if not handled carefully. Without the proper training and implementation, automated procedures might create confusion about existing procedures. A thorough training plan can help employees become more comfortable with the new techniques.

What Is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic process automation is a software solution for streamlining individual work tasks. It uses bots to complete repetitive and time-consuming tasks like data entry. The bots complete responsibilities automatically, reducing the need for manual tasks among departments. Automation technologies are trained to mimic human performance using application programming interfaces (APIs) and user interface (UI) software. In turn, they can complete predictable tasks like:

  • Extracting data
  • Filling in forms
  • Moving file locations
  • Transferring data between files
  • Making calculations
  • Parsing emails for important information
  • Generating basic reports and analyses

RPA allows companies to complete manual tasks more quickly and precisely. Without the possibility of human error, teams can complete detail-oriented procedures with intense accuracy. Bots can help you create a more streamlined and accurate environment. That way, employees can interact more with one another and with customers.

You can adapt bots to match specific workflows and preferences. Your business has particular approaches to data organization and filing, and you can train RPA systems to match them. It’s simple to install and alter the bots to meet changing business demands or procedures. 

Many RPA users combine bots with artificial intelligence to develop comprehensive business solutions. This combination allows bots to make more measured and thoughtful decisions. 

Robotic Process Automation Examples

Similar to workflow automation, you can apply RPA to many different industries and uses. Most industries feature manual and time-consuming procedures that deplete resources and boost employee workloads. By implementing RPA’s workload automation, you can create a more efficient work environment.

These are a few examples of how different industries could use RPA:

  • Processing orders: Industries that work with the supply chain can benefit from automated ordering processes. You can program bots to aid with every step of order fulfillment, from the moment a customer purchases an item to the ultimate distribution. For instance, you could automate data transference as a product moves from one location to another. If an employee manually enters this information, they could type a field incorrectly or miss important data. By automating this procedure, you eliminate the possibility of human error and reduce the time necessary to complete it. 
  • Employee onboarding: Employee onboarding is an essential process for every industry. You could program RPA systems to match your onboarding procedures and automate aspects where possible. For instance, RPA could simplify onboarding by automatically syncing new employees across all company systems. Or, you could program a bot to send instant reminders of upcoming training or due dates. You can build a consistent and accessible training approach for all new team members.
  • Credit card processing: If your company sells products to consumers or other businesses, you likely have to deal with payment processes. RPA bots power many credit card systems to ensure the customer’s entered data matches other recorded information. In addition, RPA bots help with the credit card application process. From collecting documents to conducting credit checks, bots can automatically guide users through the steps of receiving a new credit card. That way, employees don’t have to manually approve each individual application.
  • Scheduling systems: You can also use RPA systems for scheduling. Industries like health care rely on precise and easy-to-use scheduling systems. RPA bots can collect patient data like their insurance information and prior medical records to streamline the appointment-making process.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Robotic Process Automation

Organizations can find many advantages to RPA implementation, such as:

  • Increased productivity: RPA bots can complete mundane tasks more quickly than human users. And, they can work 24/7 without breaks or additional training. They complete tasks independently, allowing employees to focus on higher-priority and higher-value responsibilities. With RPA, you can accelerate your workflows and boost efficiency in a variety of essential workflows. 
  • Higher accuracy: During training, you’ll program RPA bots to meet a specific set of business requirements. Bots remember these rules every time, lowering the capacity for manual error. They can reduce risks for industries that work with compliance and other detailed regulations.
  • Improved employee experience: High workloads of mundane tasks can cause employees to feel less motivated, even leading to feelings of burnout. With RPA bots, you can lower these repetitive tasks and allow team members to focus on more valuable tasks instead. For instance, they can use creativity and subjective reasoning to strategize for the team. The more satisfied employees feel, the more productive they become.
  • Easy scalability: Another benefit of RPA is its simple scalability. You can easily adapt RPA bots to meet new business requirements or rules. Bots retain new information easily, reducing the need to train new personnel.

RPA also has a few notable disadvantages that companies should consider:

  • Ongoing maintenance: RPA bots require consistent maintenance to ensure they function correctly. Even slight changes in your network setup can impact a bot’s performance and possibly cause errors in the future. Some companies might not have the staff or ability for regular monitoring, making regular maintenance a challenge.
  • Not an instant fix: While some tasks are well-suited to RPA, others might need more specific approaches. Businesses might try to implement an RPA bot for a complex procedure, only to encounter more problems. For example, invoice processing requires precise handling. A company might benefit from invoice-focused software rather than a quick fix with an RPA bot. Businesses should determine which tasks suit RPA systems best before committing to one.

Workflow Automation vs. RPA: How to Choose

Both workflow automation and RPA are excellent options for streamlining business process management. The two solutions have a key difference: while workflow automation focuses on streamlining overall workflows and activities, RPA focuses on automating individual tasks. In other words, workflow automation looks at an entire procedure, while RPA singles out a particular aspect of the task.

Neither option is inherently better than the other. Both have significant benefits, like boosting productivity and enhancing employee satisfaction. If your company is considering between the two, think about your current areas that need improvement. If you notice an entire procedure requires simplification, a workflow automation solution could help you evaluate it from end to end. But if you want to focus on a particular task, such as email communication, you could integrate an RPA bot to solve it. A service provider can also assist you with finding the best solution.

In addition, many organizations combine workflow automation with RPA to build an optimized workflow solution. You can enjoy the benefits of both while transforming your overall efficiency.

Why Choose Salient?

If your company is ready to invest in workflow automation or RPA solution, choose Salient Process today. We are a leading provider of Digital Business Automation services and solutions and are committed to providing customers with excellent service. 

Salient has extensive experience with both RPA and workflow automation. As an IBM Premier Partner, our team understands the necessary steps for transformative solutions. We use our passion to guide customers toward optimized automation procedures. Whether you want to automate a standalone process or an entire workflow, we have the tools to help.

Get Started With Salient Process Today

Both workflow automation and RPA can enhance your business’s workflows. While RPA automates individual tasks, workflow automation approaches entire procedures. Companies can select the option that most closely meets their goals and needs.

For high-end and comprehensive automation solutions, choose Salient Process today. Contact us to learn more about available solutions and to get personalized assistance from a team member.