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BPM vs RPA: what should the C-Suite go for?

Virender Jeet
10th Mar 2018
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Business leaders find themselves in a dilemma on whether they should deploy BPM or RPA because both technologies, though they move towards the same goal, have different implementation strategies.

When it comes to choosing between two technologies that have often been essential to organisations, the choice is anything but easy. The purpose of most digital transformation journeys is to ensure a scalable and profitable business, and hence there is no option but to choose the best. The fact that both technologies have often been hailed as crucial to process-related solutions, only adds to the dilemma.

The 2 technologies: BPM and RPA

BPM, or Business Process Management, has been around for more than a long while now, and a lot has been spoken about the kind of value it can add to any business. It is not a specific piece of software but an approach to streamlining business processes in a way that ensures maximum efficiency. BPM platforms allow teams to create process automation workflows which can integrate with multiple and diversified systems, which can in turn exchange information and handle scenarios encompassing automation of certain human tasks.

RPA, or Robotic Process Automation, on the other hand, is a more recent advent and experts have also traced its evolution to BPM or BPA. It approaches processes in a way that is closer to a human's approach, is faster to implement, and can be used in combination with almost any software.

Business leaders often find themselves in a dilemma when it comes to when they should deploy BPM or RPA. This is all the more so because both technologies move towards the same goal, but have different implementation strategies.

However, no evolution occurs without reason. And, while both technologies are not in a conflict against one another, there are certain reasons that led to the invention of RPA. Being completely code-free and platform-agnostic adds to its charm in the kind of business systems that are in place in the 21st Century.

Which one to use when?

While both technologies can do wonders when in collaboration, it is the organisational requirement which often becomes the major governing factor. When the goal is to automate major and repetitive human activities, then RPA is without a doubt the better choice. Alternately, if automation process flows to be implemented are complex, involve streamlining of multiple systems and platforms, BPM would be the go-to platform. When it comes to handling high-frequency processes, RPA often wins the bet. However, if the concern is such that a surface-level fix would do no good, and the whole process needs to be transformed, then it is BPM to the rescue.

Does RPA have an upper hand?

When one does not have the kind of backup needed to start from scratch, RPA is a saviour. Organisations can use RPA to continue operations while investigating a deeper fix alongside. RPA is able to apply changes without causing major changes to the underlying systems and existing applications. Existing applications barely need any adjustment, and the implementation can happen in a few days' time, as it makes use of the existing user interface to drive applications.

RPA also cuts cost for organisations, as it makes use of no human operators. It makes use of cognitive or AI robots instead. Additionally, RPA fits in fairly well when combined with BPM. If any part of automation fails or is unavailable, BPM can easily route the request to a pool of humans to complete. It can be easily altered to adapt to just about any BPM suite. Adoption of RPA within a BPM suite can help rid it of bottlenecks.

BPM was never built to completely replace humans or their requirement in the task force. It instead helps facilitate work by assigning tasks, and sequencing steps to get the task done. RPA, in sharp contrast, was built with a very specific aim to perform tasks which humans are not equally efficient at.

Having said that, armed with the capability to promote improved business efficiency, data security and increased effectiveness, it does not take much to understand why RPA is the buzzword within the industry.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.) 

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