Business process management (BPM) typically refers to the automation of certain tasks that once were completed manually or with outdated software. Business process automation, or BPA, refers to the use of advanced technologies to automate complex business processes and functions. You can think of BPA as one form, or one facet, of BPM.
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More and more organizations are turning to BPA to increase efficiency and productivity and gain competitive advantage. For example, Forrester’s prediction that about 40 percent of enterprises would have automation centers in place in 2019 has turned out to be accurate.
The firm also noted rapid growth in one element of BPA, robotic process automation (RPA). RPA software can “robotically” perform a large variety of tasks. Here are just a handful of examples:
- Responding to emails
- Providing customer support
- Managing payroll
- Troubleshooting network problems
- Reviewing contracts
- Processing claims
- Running smart factories
More advanced RPA applications can even integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Business process automation allows companies to reduce staff and minimize human error. It can also create a happier workforce by eliminating menial, repetitive tasks from employees’ work.
One study found that the average worker spends 520 hours per year on repetitive activities that could be easily automated. Your team becomes more productive when they spend their time on high-level tasks that need a human brain, leaving the repetitive tasks to software.
But it’s important to remember that business process automation doesn’t mean simply getting software robots to do jobs once done by humans. BPA is a broad concept that can include many different tools and methods and contribute to just about any business process or goal.
Other major benefits of BPA include transparency, accountability, and compliance. Process automation can ensure consistent recording and reporting of data, so all information is readily accessible. BPA can also retain all communications around processes, so you can always document what was said.
So remember, when you see the term BPA, it refers to a key element of business process management — automation — but it’s only part of a full solution.