Business Process Automation Vs Business Process Management | 5 mins read

Business Process Automation vs Business Process Management

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Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

Business Process Management vs. Business Process Automation

Since the digital transformation, there is a lot of new jargon to describe the practices and tools related to automation. These terms sometimes are similar in meaning but are labeled differently for a reason. Two critical terms to know are business process management and business process automation.

Automation requires business owners to manage internal processes differently and streamline the use of new digital tools. BPM is how processes are managed within an organization. BPA is the process of replacing manual repetitive tasks with automated ones.

When an organization invests in automated tools, a team of stakeholders must oversee and streamline all processes to ensure a smooth transition. Without good business process management, an automation tool will be ineffective. Poorly designed processes will not be helped by an automated system. The processes must be revamped to align with automation software.

Both concepts are critical in the business world and are applicable in various industries. The purpose of both BPA and BPM is to optimize employee efficiency, streamline processes to maximize output and quality, and minimize waste. This improves the customer experience, which tends to increase profit margins.

To better understand how this works, let's drill down into BPA software and BPM.

What is Business Process Automation Software?

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Business process automation allows activities to be computerized. For example, a scanner uploads paperwork and places it into a centralized location; typically, in the cloud. This digital process is only one example of how automation works. Most departments within an organization use some form of workflow software or robotic process.

For example, the Human Resources Department uses payroll software to save money, time, and minimize errors. In this era of increased connectivity, maximum efficiency, and emerging business intelligence, each company must become an automation business.

Not all processes can be automated, but repetitive ones typically can. A manual process can be automated if it begins with a particular, triggering circumstance. For instance, data entry for employee time tracking begins when timecards are received each week. HR enters this data into a document or spreadsheet and then calculates payroll. A check is then sent out once numbers and compliance concerns are reviewed. As anyone can see, this is time-consuming, ripe for error, and prone to non-compliance.

If the time tracking and payroll process is automated, everything becomes much easier. All data is collected on a software system the moment an employee punches in each day. The time tracking solution integrates with payroll software and accounts for any compliance issues. HR only needs to click a few buttons to process payroll, rather than go through each of the manual steps listed above.

Some tasks can be partially automated but still require human input. For example, a social media marketing tool such as Hootsuite can schedule social media posts, but cannot write the content. Creativity is required to come up with the type of post that is engaging and interesting. Therefore, artificial intelligence and machine learning are best for repetitive tasks, analysis, reporting, and calculations. People are required to do the rest.

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What is Business Process Management?

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Business process management streamlines multiple workflows within an organization. Instead of focusing on one single manual process, BPM centers on how to achieve higher efficiency and operational effectiveness. It is a specific methodology to utilize during bottlenecks to minimize any errors in processes. As a result of BPM implementation, a company is more cost-effective, streamlined, and produces a higher quality of deliverables.

When it comes to automation, BPM must be a part of the conversation. Some of the manual processes are inefficient and will not align with an automation tool. Many organizations hire BPM specialists to look into all processes and see which should be revamped. Unfortunately, many business owners put too much emphasis on automation software and not enough on BPM. This leads to a poor return on investment for very expensive tools. Without BPM, a company is better off sticking with manual processes. A fancy tool isn't going to solve every single problem.

BPM doesn't have to involve automation. It may relate to an automation tool, but it can also be about simple process optimization. For example, a BPM expert may review how the sales team is initiating and closing deals with clients. He/she may discern whether an automation tool would make this process more effective, but not necessarily. It simply depends on the circumstances and the various needs and goals of an organization.

Key Takeaways of Business Process Automation vs. BPM

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In conclusion, here is what to know about BPA vs. BPM -

  • BPA is about automating one or more manual processes within an organization. Business process management drills down into the process itself to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity.

  • To optimize business activities, organizations should use a combination of BPA and BPM. BPA refers to any type of activity that can be automated. For example, HR departments automate payroll processes to save time, money, and resources.

  • BPM streamlines many different workflows within a business. Its purpose is to maximize efficiency and revamp unnecessary workflows. It does not always refer to robotic process automation, though it can.

  • Most organizations hire BPM experts to see if all processes align with a new automation tool. If the processes are poorly designed, a workflow automation tool will be worthless. Therefore, it's critical to drill down into process data to ensure optimal productivity and pinpoint any bottlenecks.

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