Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Process Automation vs Process Management

There is a lot of buzz around Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and there are those that would try to convince you that RPA replaces Business Process Management (BPM). There are others that would have you believe that BPM can be leveraged to do what RPA does in most cases. Let's examine this issue. Right now RPA works on specific tasks and BPM works on orchestrating all kinds of tasks that involve RPA or not while dynamically delivering changing business outcomes. Over time they will have more overlap as both leverage more intelligence through AI and Algorithms.





What Does BPM Do?

BPM manages tasks and the sequences in an end to end style while monitoring results and making necessary adaptations to keep goals and business outcomes on point. BPM is a task or event coordination/orchestration capability that makes sure the best sequencing (flows), even in parallel streams, are chosen at any point in time. BPM applies to simple or complex system and human tasks intermixed and dynamically optimized for SLAs.  Processes are great at exception handling and are often supported by decisioning capabilities (usually visual rules). Processes and process snippets (smaller sequences of tasks) are great a delivering best practises and emerging better practises recognized in cases.

What Does RPA Do?

RPA is great at automating manual tasks and stream lining some parts of an overall process. RPA, today is very task focused and operates with the boundaries of a existing process. As processes flex, this relationship may change. The scope of RPA today are much more focused and limited to single tasks. Though there may be a large number of specialized bots, their power is leveraged by the sequencing that process give them today. This may change over time.

What Can They Both Do?

They both help streamline processes for better efficiency and cost savings. They both support rapid deployment and ability to implement change in an incremental fashion. They both can start out with a low cost approach and grow to value over time. They share many of the operational improvement benefits. Over time as processes and bots increase in intelligence through AI they will both increase the customer, employee and partner experiences to create better journeys. Imagine a bot or a process Cog (AI) assisting you with your job!!

Net; Net:

BPM and RPA are better together for sure and they both will get better as they add smarts. As control moves to the edge, those tasks sequences will likely be short running and smaller in scope putting the advantage to RPA over time. Task sequencing is important in a great number of cases, so process will be there, but not as the BPM of old that many know today. In the future as the bots become more intelligent and are able to anticipate and negotiate, then maybe there will be less pre-built processes.