What Is the Difference Between Business Process Automation (BPA) and RPA?

the differences between business process automation and robotic process automation

In the modern-day business landscape, automation is no longer a luxury but a necessity. As more and more businesses are looking to automate their processes to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and stay competitive, two of the most common terminologies you’d have come across are Business Process Automation (BPA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). 

While the two sound similar, and sometimes work hand-in-hand, they have some significant differences that you need to know so you can choose the right type of automation for your specific needs. 

So, in this blog, we'll discuss:

  • What Business Process Automation means
  • What Robotic Process Automation means
  • The differences between BPA and RPA
  • How BPA and RPA work together

What Is Business Process Automation?

What Is Business Process Automation?

Business Process Automation (BPA) Business process automation (BPA) is the use of software tools to streamline repetitive tasks and workflows, optimizing efficiency and accuracy within an organization. By automating these processes, you’ll be able to reduce human error, save time, and allocate resources more effectively to higher-value tasks. Rather than focusing on specific departments, BPA adopts a holistic approach by integrating all existing applications, tools, and processes within your organization. It helps to optimize the end-to-end processes and not individual tasks.

Business Process Automation serves as the foundation for both back-office and front-office functions including invoicing, contact management, account creation, and real-time engagements with prospects and customers. In other words, BPA helps different teams work efficiently and collaborate smoothly. And once implemented, you’ll begin to reap some benefits like reduced costs, improved employee productivity, and increased customer satisfaction.

What Is Robotic Process Automation?

What Is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the process of using software robots, also referred to as bots, to perform repetitive, rule-based tasks within digital systems, mimicking human actions and interactions. These bots can access systems, navigate web pages, input and extract data, and emulate human interactions with computer systems to complete rule-based tasks.

In contrast to traditional automation that follows prescriptive code, bots are trained through illustrative steps that help them adapt to dynamic situations, RPA bots also can identify and correct errors, such as missing data in an Excel sheet, without human intervention. Once trained, RPA bots interact with other applications, regardless of the technology used, and continue to perform their actions.

Both small and large corporations have continued to use RPA to improve productivity. It is easy to implement, and you can integrate it with existing software without making major changes to your computer systems.

The Differences Between Robotic Process Automation and Business Process Automation

The Differences Between Robotic Process Automation and Business Process Automation

1. Integration

Business Process Automation adopts a more comprehensive approach by addressing the end-to-end process holistically. BPA aims to streamline all work processes within an organization, leading to faster and more accurate decision-making. On the contrary, RPA's main purpose is to replace time-consuming human tasks with software. RPA does not disrupt your existing business processes and can integrate with Business Process Automation software such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

A typical example of RPA implementation in CRM is the use of chatbots on websites. Chatbots that ask the question "How can I help you?" are run by bots that transfer collected information to an employee who handles the customer. RPA is common in procurement automation, where bots can replace human tasks such as submitting forms, reviewing emails and populating vendor-specific forms.

In contrast, BPA is a highly invasive form of optimization. With the help of Business Process Management Consultants, it overhauls existing systems by identifying errors in them and uses Business Process Automation software to implement new methodologies for a business. BPA employs a central system to which all business units are linked and automates all workflows. In a nutshell, BPA influences the level of efficiency your organization gets.

2. Workflows

Both RPA and BPA aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of workflows, even though they employ different forms of automation.

In RPA, bots access the existing user interface on desktops and carry out tasks that are typically performed by humans, such as copying and pasting, moving files, and sending emails. The entire workflow is recorded and subsequently executed by the bot, replacing human tasks completely. While some bots may possess decision-making and intelligent capabilities, most bots are not yet advanced to this stage. Bot automation involves screen scraping, recording, and storing certain information on web forms for later use.

On the other hand, the workflows in Business Process Automation are more complex.  A single processing model can create workflows that integrate with other systems. These systems extract information from each other to automate tasks, integrate APIs, and exchange database access. 

RPA implementation does not require an API as the bots can record, train, and act on their own. 

3. Flexibility

BPA solutions are designed to be flexible and customizable, allowing you to tailor automation to your specific business processes. This means that BPA seeks to meet specific requirements and adapt to changes in the business environment. For example, if you introduce a new policy in your business, you’ll be able to adjust your Business Process Automation methodologies to ensure compliance and reflect a new workflow.

While RPA is also flexible in the sense that bots undergo certain commands to perform various tasks, it is limited in its ability to adapt to changes in the business environment. RPA robots are programmed to follow specific rules and procedures, and any changes to an underlying process often cause a breakdown. This means that RPA is more suited for processes that are stable and standardized, and where the rules and procedures are unlikely to change frequently.

See also
How Long Should I A/B Test?

4. The need for human control 

Business Process Automation software typically requires a significant level of oversight and management by human operators. While many tasks can undergo automation, there are often exceptions, errors, or other issues that require human intervention to resolve. For example, a BPA system that automates invoicing may require human input to resolve payment disputes, handle exceptions, and provide customer support.

Unlike BPA, RPA systems are designed to be highly autonomous and they usually require minimal human intervention. RPA bots handle exceptions and errors automatically and operate 24/7 without human supervision. However, they still need human oversight and control to ensure that they are performing as expected. Human operators are usually responsible for monitoring the robots and identifying any issues that may arise. They are also responsible for updating and maintaining the RPA tool to ensure that it remains effective over time.

5. Cost and time to deploy

Business Process Automation is typically more expensive than Robotic Process Automation. It requires a more significant investment in terms of time, resources, and technology. This is because BPA includes a comprehensive analysis of your existing process, redesigning the process, and integrating new technology into your organization's existing software stack. This usually takes several months to complete, depending on the complexity of the process.

RPA, on the other hand, is a more affordable solution. You can get Automation Consultants to quickly set up the processes and implement them at a relatively low cost.  RPA software is easy to install and configure, and it does not require significant changes to existing systems or processes. You can start using your RPA tool within a few days, or sometimes, after some weeks, depending on the complexity of the task being automated.

6. Impact

Business Process Automation has a significant impact on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of business processes. By automating routine tasks, BPA will create more time and room for your employees to focus on more complex tasks that require human expertise. This often leads to increased productivity, improved accuracy, and reduced costs. BPA can also help you improve customer service by streamlining your engagement processes and reducing wait times.

Robotic Process Automation has a more immediate impact on specific tasks or processes. Since it is designed to automate repetitive tasks, it can significantly reduce the time and effort your team needs to complete these tasks.

What BPA and RPA Can Do in Different Industries

5 What BPA and RPA Can Do in Different Industries Automated Dreams

1. Finance

BPA software: Automates invoice processing, purchase orders, and expense reports. This ultimately reduces errors and improves efficiency. 

RPA software: Automates repetitive tasks such as data entry, report generation, and reconciliation.

2. Healthcare

BPA software: Automates patient registration, appointment scheduling, and billing.

RPA software:  Automates data entry, insurance verification, and claims processing.

3. Manufacturing

BPA software: Automates your inventory management, order processing, and production scheduling.

RPA software: Automate data entry, quality control, and supply chain management.

4. Customer Service

BPA software: Automates customer inquiries and engagement such as order status and returns. 

RPA software: Automates repetitive tasks such as order processing.

5. Human Resources

BPA software: Automates employee onboarding, benefits enrollment, and performance evaluation.

RPA software: Automates staff data entry and record-keeping.

How Can Robotic Process Automation and Business Process Automation Work Together?

How Can Robotic Process Automation and Business Process Automation Work Together?

While RPA and BPA are different technologies with distinct capabilities, they can work together to provide even greater benefits to your business. Here are some ways they complement each other:

1. RPA helps to automate repetitive tasks within a larger business process

One of the key advantages of RPA is its ability to automate rule-based tasks that are part of a larger business process. For example, an invoice processing business process may involve receiving invoices from vendors, verifying the accuracy of the data, and entering the data into an ERP system, before generating a payment to the vendor. RPA bots will help you automate the data entry and verification tasks, leaving the more complex decision-making tasks to humans.

2. BPA optimizes entire business processes

BPA analyzes and optimizes entire business processes. It helps to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies and attempts to eliminate or reduce them. BPA also creates room to integrate RPA tools.

3. RPA provides data for BPA analysis

RPA bots collect and analyze data as part of their automation tasks. For example, an RPA bot that processes invoices can collect data on the time it takes to complete each process, the number of errors that occur, and the time it takes for invoices to be approved for payment. BPA tools then use this data to identify areas for improvement and you can develop strategies to optimize invoice processing for that business.

Wrapping it Up

As businesses look for ways to scale and optimize their processes, Business Process Automation (BPA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) have become increasingly important. Understanding the key differences between these two will help you make an informed decision about which will minimize costs for your organization. However, if you don’t want to make the decision alone and would need professional advice on the best BPA/RPA tools for your business, schedule a free consultation with us to get started. We’d love to help.

Schedule FREE 30-MINUTE consultation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Table of Contents

Level up your Facebook messenger marketing game

Do you own an online brand, or sell goods/services?

Learn how to automate and scale your business with this free resource.

© 2023 · Automated Dreams · Get Business Strategy Advice in the Automated Dreams Blog

Stay in the loop

Receive insights from business automation experts