What is the difference between RPA and BPM?

One of the pertinent questions that people ask in the IT industry is whether Robotic Process Automation(RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM) are the same. As with every new technology, people often confuse BPM with RPA due to their shared goal of making processes efficient through automation.

However, both are not the same. The difference begins from the fact that while BPM is a discipline used to re-engineer and improve the existing processes; RPA is a technology used to mimic human actions to complete the tasks within the given process.

In this blog, we will explore the difference between the two and explain when should you use both of them in your business.

How to determine if RPA or BPM is apt for your organisation?

As you must have realised by now, RPA is used in processes that are data-centric and require automation to minimise human errors, accelerate the rate at which the process is completed, and maximise the productivity of the employees. BPM is used to transform the entire process to make it efficient. So, to determine if your organisation requires BPM or RPA, you need to identify the objective. If the objective is to automate repetitive tasks, then RPA is your solution, and if the objective is to streamline the process and transform it altogether, then you must opt for BPM.

Can organisations use RPA and BPM together?

Let’s take help of an example to address this question.

Imagine, a usual trading reconciliation process in a brokerage firm. The daily routine of an agent involves – logging in to their trade management system to check the customer’s trade details, logging in to the broking system to check the customer’s details in the broker system, verifying the end of the day balance, and logging out of both the systems. It takes almost a day to reconcile the trading balance in both the systems. In case both the balances are not reconciled, the agent will have to perform an additional task of following-up with the client to identify the issue and reconcile it.

Now let’s see how RPA and BPM can help in this process.

Source: http://fis.nri.co.jp/en/news/2017/04/20170404en.html

In a normal process of reconciliation, the bots can help the agent in validating the balance between the two systems and ensuring that the balance is reconciled in both the systems.However, when there is a difference in the balance, the bot raises a flag to the agent so they can follow-up with the client and get the issue rectified. This is the step where BPM plays a role. BPM defines the workflow in such a way that the human workforce and the digital workforce can work together seamlessly to complete a task. So, irrespective of an error or the absence of it, BPM ensures that the task is completed without consuming the agent’s time.

So to address the question, BPM and RPA may address different problems, but they can be used together to improve the efficiency of a process.

As Siyong Liu, general manager of CFB bots says, BPM and RPA are two sides of the same coin and can be used together to drive true transformative changes within the organisation.

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