We’re hearing a lot about Business Process Management and Robotic Process Automation these days. So what are they and what’s the difference?
Business Process Management (BPM) is a holistic view of process management for your business. It covers the planning, organization and management of an organization’s processes.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) looks to automate repetitive processes and tasks within an organization.
But wait…aren’t there tools for BPM and RPA? Are these the same thing? And, do I need them? What are the benefits and drawbacks of one vs. the other and what’s right for my organization?
Let’s explore a bit further…
BPM tool selection
There are tools available for both BPM and for RPA and, although there may be many similarities and crossover between the two, they are not the same thing.
Business Process Management is not a tool, more so, it’s a practice. BPM-specific tools and solutions generally look to cover organization process management holistically. These tools aim to consolidate process execution activities within one solution, offering low-code-to-no-code form design, integration with other systems and databases and ease of use.
In addition to process efficiency and consistency, a proper BPM tool solution will also offer ease of use, business user support, automation capabilities, reporting and predictive analysis.
Learn more about Process Director from BP Logix for an industry-leading example of what a great BPM solution can do for your organization! This is truly a full process management suite for any organization’s process solution needs. Thinking of a lighter-weight solution? Check out Orchestly.
When evaluating BPM tools, consider things such as ease of use (low code or no code), integration with other applications and scalability, ROI, reporting capabilities and cost.
RPA tool selection
Robotic Process Automation tools look to automate tasks which can be automated. The best candidates for automation are generally considered tasks that are repetitive with structured criteria and low variation.
Repetitive tasks: human or application-based and repeatable.
Structured criteria: the more consistent the information the better (standardized information, same field locations, same format).
Low variation: minimal to no variations in the process due to exceptions or complex decisions.
Check out UiPath’s Robotic Process Automation solutions. I’ve gone through their business analyst and implementation manager programs and I must say they have put together a fine approach to RPA.
When evaluating RPA tools, interestingly, consider the same things as you would in your evaluation of BPM tools: ease of use (low code or no code), integration with other applications and scalability, ROI, reporting capabilities and cost.
Any BPM or RPA solution should pay for itself. The financial ROI should be predicted in advance and measurable after implementation.
Other non-monetary benefits include:
- efficiency improvements
- quality improvements
- reduced error rates
- ease and consistency of process execution for users
- data-driven decision-making opportunities,
- increased customer satisfaction
- increased employee engagement
By 2024, Gartner predicts that redesigning operational processes and introducing hyperautomation will lower operational costs by 30%. Hyperautomation is the activity of using advanced technologies (such as RPA, Process Mining, Artificial Intelligence, etc.) to automate processes in a way that is more meaningfully impactful than using traditional automation techniques. RPA can unlock hyperautomation.
When you consider that most organizations waste over 500 hours per year on duplicate tasks, you begin to realize the positive, snowball effects of creating an efficient and process-driven culture through BPM and/or RPA.
Now, that doesn’t mean replacing all your people with robots or replacing decision-makers with data reports. Optimizing your processes is more about unlocking new and progressive opportunities for your organization and your people to flourish. Your people can spend their time on things of value and reward – things that robots can’t do or feel. How many times have we heard knowledge workers say that wish they could spend less time on manual reports and mundane tasks and more time on the fun and innovative activities?
Someone much smarter than myself once told me:
Hire and retain strategic thinking, buy commodity services.Louis Bernacchi
When you follow this line of thinking, you free up the time of (and further empower) your knowledge workers so they can begin to accelerate innovation within your organization, while keeping the day-to-day activities operating smoothly. In fact, when you buy or automate commodity services, often the day-to-day activities themselves achiever better results than when the knowledge and strategy workers were doing them in the first place.
Literally everybody wins when this happens – your employees, your organization, your vendors and your customers.
The only drawback I can think of, when implementing a BPM or RPA solution, is that the improvements will not happen overnight and you may need to sit at the edge of your chair for 3 to 6 weeks before the results come poring in! Better get your popcorn ready!
In all seriousness, drawbacks will only occur if the solution is poorly-implemented or pooly-transitioned. This can be mitigated by properly preparing for your BPM or RPA solution:
- have a clear, organizational understanding as to why you are implementing a BPM or RPA solution
- identify what you’re expecting to get out of a BPM or RPA solution
- identify exactly when you will expect to realize an acceptable ROI from the implementation
- identify who will support the solution after implementation and transition
- work closely with a process consultant or implementation expert to guide the planning, implementation and transition activities (I may know of a trustworthy consultant for you – just ask! 🙂 )
- ensure post-implementation support solutions are available for questions and advice
The monetary ROI should be “net positive” for the organization, so this should be a “good news story” from the very beginning. The odds should be predictable and heavily-stacked in favour of your organization because, before you implement anything, you should already have a proper business case which outlines “how much we waste” vs. “how much we save from automation alone.”
Now, I totally understand that I’m a process consultant and, therefore, biased in my opinion on benefits and drawbacks! However, if properly planned and executed, you should be realizing benefits within a few weeks/months of implementation of either (BPM or RPA) solution, even without considering all the other, non-monetary benefits that go along with it.
A habit is to a human as a process is to an organization.
All humans develop habits and all organizations operate with processes – the only difference is whether or not, those habits and process are hindering or helping us to achieve our intended goals!
Business Process Management and Robotic Process Automation can, and are, excellent solutions for any organization looking to increase efficiency, reduce waste or improve the bottom line. With clear expectations and proper guidance, you’ll be automating your way to increased profits in no time!
Process Priming Consulting Services Ltd. is an independent process consulting firm. Process Primer is not in direct partnership and is not a registered affiliate with any of the above-mentioned organizations. The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of our independent process consultant(s) and we do not receive any kickbacks or endorsements from the mentioned organizations.
Have questions? Need more information? Leave a comment or contact us and we’ll be happy to respond!
Be safe, be healthy and be efficient.
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Process Consultant