After a little bit of research and outreach to a cross section of people who work in various lines of business and consulting, we found a huge variance in responses and opinions on how they work together, separately or not at all.
The one resounding take away is that there isn’t really a lot clarity around BPM and RPA. It’s similar to the frequent need to explain how AI and RPA are different, so I understand the confusion.
BPM, at its core, is a holistic technology. There are platforms out there that are essential to managing large business operations. In every case however they rely on several different pieces of software to make them work.
A typical BPM tool will have several components, including a graphical interface where one can manage process flows to connect systems and people. Generally, there is a business analytics tool that will pull real time data so decision-makers can use this to plan and/or make an accurate decision. Integration of core systems (i.e. CRM, accounting and other crucial systems) is a key component of achieving end-to-end automation for the enterprise.
That being said, BPM doesn’t necessarily need an overarching piece of software to achieve its goal. BPM is a long-term effort and it’s ever evolving. To implement it requires process re-engineering to eliminate bottlenecks, connect systems, increase accuracy, productivity and efficiency. Coincidentally, these concepts are also key tenants of RPA..
The key functions of most BPM Solutions:
- Visual Design Tools
- Business Process Automation
- Analytics: Real Time Process Performance
- Mobile and Social Capabilities
- Content Storage and Management
- Integration with Core Systems
RPA is a supporting tool of BPM. It always uses software and the processes created are quick and one of many. Within the context of BPM, RPA can be one part of an end-to-end BPM process. Many processes can involve offline and/or online actions to be completed.
RPA can handle the repetitive nature of the overall process. It can help or assist a human in the decisions and/or speed up certain parts of the job to be done. If you equate RPA to an orchestra, I would say it’s the horn or string section and BPM is the conductor.
RPA and its Center of Excellence (COE) can reside as a central component for BPA (Business Process Automation) and systems integration. This effort can begin before implementing a comprehensive BPM solution. It can be a helpful effort in that you can define governance and a methodology to procure high value processes.
I recently spoke with the VP of Automation at a very large financial services firm who has achieved close to an end-to-end automation in their organization. He indicated they started with RPA in late 2017 with a limited group. The adoption was fairly quick and eventually the COE expanded to include analytics, content storage and data gathering and processing.
Wherever you are on your RPA and/or BPM journey it’s important to understand some of the nuances of both and how they can work together.
Peter S. Camp is the CTO and Founder of CampTek Software. He has been developing RPA Applications for over 15 years. For further questions, discussion or inquiry about CampTek Software Services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.