RPA vs. BPM: Who Wins?
by Jim Sinur
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a hot topic and some would try to convince you that RPA replaces business process management (BPM). Others would have you believe that BPM can be leveraged to accomplish what RPA does in most cases. Let’s examine this issue.
Right now, RPA works on specific tasks and BPM works on orchestrating all kinds of tasks that involve RPA (or not) while dynamically delivering changing business outcomes. Over time, RPA and BPM will have more overlap since both leverage more intelligence through AI and algorithms.
What Is BPM?
BPM manages tasks and sequences in an end-to-end style while monitoring results and making necessary adaptations to keep goals and business outcomes on point. BPM is a task or event coordination/orchestration capability that makes sure the best sequencing (flows), even in parallel streams, are chosen at any point in time.
BPM applies to simple or complex systems and human tasks intermixed and dynamically optimized for SLAs. Processes are great at exception handling and are often supported by decisioning capabilities (usually visual rules). Processes and process snippets (smaller sequences of tasks) are great at delivering best practices and emerging better practices recognized in cases.
What Is RPA and Why Does It Matter?
RPA is ideal for automating manual tasks and streamlining some parts of an overall process. Today, RPA is very task-focused and operates within the boundaries of an existing process. As processes flex, this relationship may change. The scope of RPA today is primarily limited to single tasks. Though there may be a large number of specialized bots, their power is leveraged by the sequencing that processes give them today. This may change over time.
What Are the Benefits of RPA and BPM?
Combining RPA with BPM can help streamline processes for better efficiency and cost savings. They both support rapid deployment and the ability to implement change in an incremental fashion. They both can start out with a low-cost approach and grow to value over time. They share many of the operational improvement benefits. Over time, as processes and bots leverage AI and offer increased intelligence, RPA and BPM will increase customer, employee, and partner experiences to create better journeys. Imagine a bot or a process cog (AI) assisting you with your job!
RPA and BPM: Better Together
BPM and RPA are certainly better together and they both will get better as they add intelligence. As control moves to the edge, those task sequences will likely be short-running and smaller in scope, garnering the advantages of RPA over time. Task sequencing is important in a great number of cases, so process will be there but not as the BPM of old that many know today. In the future, as the bots become more intelligent and are able to anticipate and negotiate, then maybe, there will be fewer pre-built processes.