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Will RPA Replace BPM?

When talking about process automation, business process management (BPM) is a term that cannot be ignored. Efficient process management is of critical importance to any business. It enables the modelling, analysis, optimisation and automation of business processes that ultimately improve business performance. But how does RPA fit into the overall picture?

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation (RPA) refers to the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate repetitive high-volume manual tasks using a digital workforce, i.e. robots. These robots can be thought of as macros: Once recorded, a macro can be run over and over again, replacing a work step that always repeats in the same way. This relieves employees of tedious, simple tasks that often make up a significant portion of an employee’s work day.

RPA in today’s corporate landscape

Although robotic process automation (RPA) is not a new concept, the tech world has recently discovered it and is now trying to integrate into business operations. Indeed, integrating BPM and RPA would be beneficial in a variety of industries:

For example, RPA technologies could initiate credit card application approval processes by automating manual tasks using RPA and managing the entire process with a BPM tool. The robot could collect the documents required for the application from the applicant and perform the necessary credit checks and background checks. Based on the data resulting from the previous steps, the robot could even decide whether the applicant would be eligible for a credit card. If yes, then a new credit card could be automatically issued and the process terminated as soon as the applicant received his card.

Integrating RPA into business operations allows employees to focus on more demanding tasks rather than tedious and repetitive ones. In this way, employees have the opportunity to focus on further developing their expertise. Better qualified staff also results in greater efficiency for a company, which in turn leads to cost savings in the long term.

Is RPA a substitute for BPM?

No, RPA is not a substitute for BPM. Although RPA creates greater efficiency for businesses by reducing the time needed to handle repetitive manual tasks, it requires more complex processes to carry out these tasks. Looking at the big picture – that is, the entire process – there will always be a need for end-to-end process management. The aim of BPM is to provide companies with the optimal environment for continuous improvement in order to realise the full potential of an organisation. Without well-founded process governance delivered through top-notch BPM platforms, it is highly unlikely that using RPA will have a positive impact on your business.

In this context, it is important to remember that RPA and BPM are not in competition with each other, they are complementary. It is therefore more important to think about where it makes sense to use RPA in a process to maximise return on investment (ROI) and keep your organisation on course for success.

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