BPM vs RPA: The Duet You Can’t Miss
When you have a huge goal in front of you, approaching it might seem challenging. With digital transformation as your top business concern, how should you start?
Trying to refine processes you don’t quite understand is the path to nowhere. In other words, improving only certain activities is not enough; you need to see the entire picture behind them to understand how the workflow can be upgraded.
There are many ways to ensure better organizational performance. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at BPM (Business Process Management) and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and what they mean for your business.
How are BPM and RPA related?
As a process, BPM can be compared to life. There are a lot of tasks to do within this process. Some of them require your participation, but others can be delegated to a virtual assistant such as a smart house system that facilitates certain operations — just as RPA does. With some of the house system’s sensors, you can adjust the temperature and humidity in the rooms so you can sleep better, or synchronize turning on the electric coffee machine and the multicooker with your alarm clock and breakfast will already be prepared by the time you wake up. Doing these and many other things without manual effort streamlines your routine and helps you focus on more important stuff. The same goes for business. With BPM and RPA at its service, you’ll reap tons of benefits you’ve probably haven’t thought of, yet.
— Aleksej Morskoj, Service Delivery Manager, *instinctools
Business process management is a global process-focused approach that forms the skeleton of a procedural flow in a company. BPM establishes the game rules for a particular business — how its parts should perform to produce the right outcomes. Meanwhile, RPA is a task-focused form of automation. It focuses on decreasing the number of dull, repetitive operations. RPA is one of the technologies that put BPM’s ideas into practice.
Implementing RPA alone won’t put your business on the fast track to success because it just enables processes to run faster and/or makes them frequent, even if the processes themselves are inefficient and need reengineering. On the other hand, BPM determines the processes that need to be streamlined and explains how it could be done to facilitate the whole workflow.
Let’s investigate the relationships between those concepts. In the example, you can see the online appointment registration in a clinic. All the patients have to do is log in, and choose the doctor, date, and time slot. If there are no schedule changes, they’ll receive a pre-appointment reminder from the RPA bot. It’s easy to send notifications when everything goes as planned, you might think, but how to automate unplanned changes? That’s what BPM is for — it controls the whole process and uncovers possible bottlenecks. For instance, if the appointment before yours takes more time than expected, clinic staff has to notify you and other later patients about the schedule changes. However, managing it manually would be exceptionally time-consuming. Thanks to well-established BPM, an RPA bot takes into account several conditions such as patient’s data and available doctors to estimate appointment duration and remove relevant time slots from the doctor’s schedule on the online booking portal.
In 2020, the need for RPA technology in healthcare skyrocketed. When the pandemic hit, manual patient registration seemed like a chaotic deadlock that either had to be broken or could break everything else. The situation was remedied by the adoption of RPA bots that managed patient data registration in 14–16 seconds error-free. This is compared to the three minutes it used to take humans to perform the same task.
How do BPM and RPA influence your business?
Replacing tedious manual labor with automation and revamping business processes are crucial components of digital transformation. As 92% of industrial companies have already started their journey in this direction, its successful completion is a predominant concern for business owners. You won’t achieve expected results without a holistic view of the company’s workflow and a clear understanding of how to make the best use of your employees’ talents. And here RPA and BPM come to the rescue. RPA helps solve the issue of automating similar actions without human intervention. Meanwhile, BPM provides you with a plethora of opportunities to enhance your organization’s efficiency.
Visualize your business processes and identify their productivity
At this point, you can also benefit from Business Intelligence (BI) with its data visualization tools. Combine awareness with action — together with BPM, business intelligence increases processes transparency and provides you with analytics, and this is the pillar of prudent decision-making. BPM is a good choice for pinpointing drawbacks, and BI is a great opportunity to predict the potential outcomes after process adjustments. Take advantage of making your business process management more intelligent.
Here’s an example of how BPM approach and BI tools can be united for a deeper understanding of such a healthcare process as a hospital treatment after CABG surgery. Thanks to up-to-date data from BI tools, doctors can predict the need for pain management using patients records and dividing them according to their age and other parameters.
Find bottlenecks that are hampering the speed of the processes and reducing their efficiency
Here’s an example of an operational bottleneck caused by people’s inability to match work volume during the multilayered approval process. Imagine that several stakeholders are interested in a set of reports. Employees who work directly on these reports can notify them when the work is done. Still, to avoid wasting employees’ time on minor mechanical tasks, it’s more profitable to set up an automatic notification to email — an RPA bot can easily do this task.
Redesign the processes
After defining the weak points, it’ll be easier to find ways to make them more results-oriented and effective. If we continue with the example from the previous paragraph, set up the RPA bot to resend the notification if the stakeholder didn’t open the email within a certain time period.
Execute automated processes
Decrease the need for human involvement in drudge operations through robotic process automation. Respondents of the Deloitte RPA Survey Report estimate that RPA bots can deliver at least 20% of capacity in their operations. That said, this number could potentially reach up to 52% in different organizations.
However, the real RPA benefits lie in improving organizational KPIs. According to the UiPath research, robotic automation significantly accelerates processing time (up to 78%), reduces operation cost (50–65%), ensures 100% compliance with regulations and the same level of accuracy.
Handle specific scenarios
Robotic process automation can deal with repetitive tasks, but it relies on BPM to manage exceptions to RPA rules. If your RPA bot states that 900 employees should be fired because they worked less than they were supposed to, would you agree with this decision without thought? Or would you rather review the conditions for performance evaluation and set specific KPIs for employees from different departments as, for example, development and sales teams’ tasks can’t be measured in the same way, can they?
In a nutshell, BPM helps you to choose business processes that may be worth improvement, for instance, automating. And RPA is one of the most cost-effective possibilities to put it into action.
How difficult is it to adopt BPM and RPA?
The key issue of BPM implementation is the postponement of the result because it’s a heavyweight solution that should be integrated with the other systems — more than half of BPM projects fail to deliver the results hoped for. Indeed, BPM doesn’t produce an immediate payoff, but it’s never a useless task to understand your business processes clearly and find out how you can enhance them. Implementing RPA as part of your software development plan is easier because it’s a particular technology, but if you implement RPA without BPM, your digital transformation efforts might go down the drain as there is a possibility that you’ll just end up with poorly organized activities.
Another challenge when adopting RPA and BPM is the industry skill shortage. Even if you have an in-house IT department, the responsibilities of your staff may be limited to the system’s maintenance or your employees may think in terms of the tasks instead of processes. That’s why it makes sense to take advantage of a dedicated teams’ expertise.
One more indispensable condition for the success of BPM and RPA adoption is the involvement of all the stakeholders — from C-suite to general employees. You may face resistance to change at some level as employees will be afraid of losing their jobs to robots. So resolve this misunderstanding and turn your specialists from possible digital transformation bottlenecks into the supporters of new processes and technologies before starting your journey.
When to use BPM and RPA?
If the employees involved in the process are drowning in operations, this is the primary signal that BPM implementation is needed. Its adoption helps to figure out how effectively the team works, and pinpoint the weak spots.
— Aleksej Morskoj, Service Delivery Manager, *instinctools
Thanks to RPA software, you can decrease the overwhelming number of tedious operations. Automate repetitive parts leaving final decision-making to your employees if you don’t trust the robots enough to delegate some processes completely.
Compare two approaches to the processes execution — without implementing RPA and with it. In the first case, your staff is buried under the workload of similar monotonous actions and eventually experiences burnout that causes slacking, job dissatisfaction, and even depression. The question about the performance level in this situation hardly needs to be asked. In the second case, employees don’t have to waste most of their working time on mundane operations. Thus, they can focus on dealing with higher-value tasks that require their talent and expertise.
One of the reasons to consider implementing BPM is the necessity to connect your legacy and modern systems. Let’s take a look at an example from the fintech industry. When a person comes to the bank to open a deposit, basic banking legacy systems are sufficient. But what if he/she isn’t ready to waste time going to the bank and wants to open a deposit in a mobile app? In this case, outdated systems have to be connected with modern online banking. BPM uncovers this weak spot, and RPA can solve it by creating a bot that will enable legacy and modern systems to exchange data without a hitch.
The fruitful partnership of BPM and RPA: a breakthrough in your digital transformation?
RPA and BPM differences don’t make them rivals. It’s cooperation, not competition. Implementing BPM ideas and RPA technologies together can lead you to advanced outcomes and much more profitable business processes with people involved only in activities that require their skills and expertise while the rest is automated. Adopting only RPA makes sense if you have the proper level of confidence in the machines. Going back to the example of firing a huge number of employees because of the automatic analysis of their activity during the working day — are you ready for this level of trust? It’s more advantageous to combine RPA technologies and BPM ideas so that you can supervise the results of the bots’ work. If you are still on the fence about implementing BPM and RPA solutions into your organization, schedule a consultation with our specialists and we’ll be happy to talk you through it.
Originally published on instinctools.com