While they may be related, RPA and BPM are not to be confused with one another. Sure, both technologies have to do with automation, but their scopes of application are very different. They are not mutually exclusive and can often be used in combination, but how do you know which technology to use, and when?
Read on to find out what makes each technology unique, and how to decide when to use either Robotic Process Automation or Workflows (BPM).
Key differences between RPA and BPM
Although both RPA and BPM deal with automation, the major difference between them is that Business Process Management offers a big-picture approach to automation by improving processes from its core, whereas Robotic Process Automation addresses specific problems at the surface level.
RPA uses software code that runs "virtual robots" instead of human workforce to improve efficiency of repetitive process operations. BPM on the other hand is a business automation tool that helps streamline processes in order to improve performance and reduce cycle times.
Think of BPM as an approach to overall business management, and RPA as a tool that can be implemented either with or without the existence of BPM workflows. Compared to BPM, Robotic Process Automation is a faster and more cost effective way to fix problems. However, the objective of RPA is not to identify ways to streamline the process as a whole, but rather to increase performance of a process by replacing human manual labor with robots.
When to use RPA vs BPM
So when is it appropriate to use RPA or BPM? The answer depends on what type of process is being addressed. If the process in question is a highly integral part of your business, it might be better to consider taking an in-depth approach with BPM instead of looking to a quick-fix with RPA.
BPM plays a big role in workflow automation and its objective is to ensure that the infrastructure is solid. Although BPM requires more time to be planned out and implemented, it is the most effective way to improve processes at their core.
Due to budget and time restraints, sometimes it isn't always easy to improve a business workflow. In these situations, RPA may be the better option, at least in the short-term. A benefit of using RPA is that it is faster and easier to implement and does not require a change to the existing infrastructure.
What is great about these business automation tools are that they can both be implemented without having to compete with one another. The important thing is identifying which tool is more appropriate to address a specific process or problem.