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Robotic Process vs Business Process Automation

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Last editedNov 20212 min read

Does your business use automation technology? Automating everyday tasks can boost productivity, but it’s important to first understand the different options. These include business process automation and robotic process automation. Here’s a closer look at these two types of automation technologies, including their similarities and differences.

What is business process automation?

Digital business process automation is also called digital process automation or business process automation (BPA). It describes a way that businesses can optimise their processes using automation. The main goal behind BPA is to get rid of any repetitive workflows that take place during day-to-day business operations. By automating these processes instead, you can give efficiency a boost.

Digital business process automation doesn’t necessarily describe any specific process or department; it looks more at the overall, holistic approach to business processes. To get started, businesses must perform an analysis of their processes to root out any inefficiencies. They can then move on to building a solution that works from end-to-end using automation. Examples of processes include things like customer onboarding and credit approvals. You can break these down into three categories:

  1. Programmatic tasks, resources, and workflows usually involve clerical processes and admin.

  2. Transactional tasks require some human input along with the automated workflows.

  3. Exploratory tasks relate to business security, fraud, and compliance workflows.

What is robotic process automation?

Now that we’ve covered what’s involved in business or digital process automation, what about robotic process automation (RPA)? While BPA finds problems to solve through automation, RPA is the software that provides the solution. Business process automation looks at the overall workflow, while robotic process automation focuses on individual, specific tasks.

While its name suggests that these tasks are completed with the assistance of robots, RPA instead involves applications or software. The software is designed to mimic human activity through its interaction with an interface. Some examples could include tasks such as invoice processing, purchase requisition, or website scraping. Robotic process automation in financial services might include mortgage application filing and payroll processing. These can be fully automated using RPA software, offering greater efficiency to a business. Employees can leave the mundane admin tasks to the RPA technology, so that they have more free time to tackle complex business issues.

One thing to note is that RPA can be programmed to streamline specific tasks, but it doesn’t have any decision-making capabilities. It can’t ‘learn’ on the job the way that AI or machine learning programs do.

Business process automation vs robotic process automation

Now that we’ve covered the definitions of BPA and RPA, how do the two measure up to one another? In short, BPA is more focused on the whole process, while RPA is focused on repetitive tasks. RPA aims to replace the need for humans to perform these repetitive functions. By contrast, BPA looks at ways to improve the overall customer journey.

Business process automation:

  • Automates business processes

  • Looks at the big picture

  • Requires in-depth analysis

  • Builds solutions from end-to-end

Robotic process automation:

  • Is automation software

  • Performs specific tasks

  • Operates as a component of larger processes

  • Eliminates mundane paperwork

The bottom line

There’s no need to choose one type of automation over the other; both can work hand in hand for maximum workplace efficiency. You’ll often see both business process and robotic process automation in financial services. While the BPA streamlines loan application workflows, RPA might eliminate the need for manual filing.

For small businesses, robotic process automation is often easier to implement as it doesn’t require the in-depth analysis that digital business process automation requires. You can automate specific tasks that are costing you time and money, increasing productivity overall.

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