Business Process Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation: What’s the Difference?

Automation and robotic process automation (RPA) are transforming the way organizations operate. According to a survey, 91% of organizations said that the demand for automation from business teams has increased over the last two years, mainly from R&D (39%), operations (38%), customer service (33%), and marketing as well as finance (26%). The question arises, which type of automation do you need?

Business process automation (BPA) and robotic process automation (RPA) are the two most common terms discussed in executing automation. BPA refers to minimizing human effort across the organization through digital technologies. RPA is the use of software bots to complete tasks on digital user interfaces (UI), such as data entry, sending emails, etc.

Let us explore these differences in detail.

Learn More: What Is Business Process Automation?

BPA vs. RPA: Definition

In BPA, the focus is squarely on the organization and the business outcomes it wants to achieve. For instance, BPA is used to improve lead conversion rates, reduce procurement costs, streamline order management, invoice processing, and so on.

Gartner defines business process automation as:

The automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through the use of advanced technologies.”

In contrast, RPA uses software robots, commonly known as bots, instead of human knowledge workers. This reduces effort at an individual level, not at a business unit level, as in BPA.

Gartner defines RPA as “a productivity tool that allows a user to configure one or more scripts (which some vendors refer to as “bots”) to activate specific keystrokes in an automated fashion.

For RPA to align with larger business goals and deliver the ROI, organizations need to build credible automation pipelines. With solutions like task mining, organizations can get an end-to-end process view, variants, hotspots of their team’s activities, and high manual work that can be reduced with automation. Thus, task mining is key to scaling RPA within the enterprise.

Learn More: 4 Reasons You Can’t Scale RPA Without Task Mining

Business Process Automation vs. Robotics Process Automation: Key Differences

BPA automates high-frequency workflows within an organization — as one step in the business process is completed, the BPA software automatically triggers the next step. For instance, processes with high transaction volume and multiple steps can be automated via BPA, thus improving the accuracy and efficiency of the process.

Meanwhile, RPA applies to rules-based, repetitive, and high-volume processes with repeatable tasks, while the former has a much broader scope for automating and standardizing workflows.

RPA falls within the purview of BPA and focuses on tasks. To scale RPA, one needs a holistic business automation perspective aided by detailed process maps and task mining. In some cases, an organization may start with a single RPA project and then scale enterprise wide.

Learn More: What is Process Automation?

The two types of automation technology also differ in the following ways:

  • Scale: BPA is implemented at scale and is typically used by mid-sized to large enterprises. Small companies may use BPA embedded in business-specific applications.
  • Cost: In the short term, RPA is less expensive to implement than BPA, but it may lead to a high total cost of ownership (TCO) in the long run. Well-planned BPA involves high initial investment but provides quick and assured returns.
  • Integration: RPA is standalone and works on a single task or process. BPA either comes fully integrated or needs extensive APIs to set up connected workflows within a business unit and across multiple business units.
  • Value addition: The only objective of RPA is to reduce the effort of the individual who previously performed the task manually. BPA, on the other hand, can add value by doing tasks better or differently.

Learn More: Process Mining and Task Mining: 5 Reasons to Use Them Together

Kickstart your transformation journey with Scout work graph

Today, over 60% of the teams’ workday is spent on unstructured interactions in documents, emails, communications, custom applications, and websites – outside of ERP, CRM, and other systems of record. This massive unstructured and undocumented interaction dataset between people and software is untapped and contains a goldmine of insights that could give a significant competitive edge to enterprises.

Traditional solutions for identifying and building automation pipelines have significant privacy, accuracy, and scalability issues and fail to capture work done outside the systems of record, such as ERPs and CRMs.

Through Soroco ScoutTM, powered by the world’s first work graph platform, organizations can unlock this data source to discover processes where inefficiencies occur and are prime candidates for intelligent process automation.

Request a demo of Soroco ScoutTM today!    

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