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RPA vs BPM: do they complement each other?

Hi community,

Do you think Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM) are complementary categories?  What is the relation between the two of them?

Or, possibly, in a long run, RPA is going to dominate and replace BPM? 

Share your thoughts!


PeerSpot user
1212 Answers

Nancy_Sachdeva - PeerSpot reviewer
Top 20Real User

Both start with Process. 

I don’t think one will replace the other but BPM will achieve the next level of maturity with RPA. Traditional BPM started with just documentation and then it evolved to do more like monitoring, trigger actions, etc. Slowly it became the whole improvement system. 

Now with automation (which is not new and has been for ages, screen scraping has been there, automated testing on screen has been there ), it will just mature BPM further. Slowly vendors are also moving in the direction to offer anything and everything. From a tooling perspective, if you have one for BPM and another for RPA, you would try to integrate them one way or another. 

Logically also if you do not improve the process, automation will not give you much benefit but will just make an ineffective process or error included process just faster. 

For automation, you need the process to be understood or documented, again a pre-requisite served by BPM.

Osvaldo Moderno - PeerSpot reviewer
Top 10Real User

Dear Evgeny,

Let's start by clarifying some important aspects of each subject. RPA is an enabling technology capable of automating many different business processes. Its main quality is having a very fast implementation, low cost and no need for programming skills to be used. 

BPM, in turn, is not a technology, it is a discipline and can be used in many different situations, even before the implementation of RPA. Always aiming to improve business processes before automating, whatever technology you choose. Never confuse BPM with BPMS. The last is a technology that can also automate processes. However, it takes a lot of programming skills to use and takes a long time to implement. Finally, RPA and BPMS should be compared, as both are technologies and the BPM discipline will be used in both cases to improve the process that will be automated.

That said, in my opinion, if you are comparing RPA and BPM, my answer is that they are complementary and always will be. However, if you compare RPA and BPMS, this comparison is almost non-existent. BPMS is no longer competitive due to the current market profile. Organizations are demanding fast, cost-effective solutions for business process automation and this is impacting the job market for roles such as developers. 

So, everyone is looking for ways to automate processes using their own employees and this is possible using low code / no code solutions, such as RPA for example.

Robert Costello - PeerSpot reviewer

  1. Do they complement each other? I am not sure complement is the right word to use. However, I feel that the underlying logic and algorithms needed to achieve success in either area are basically the same.

  2. In the long run, is RPA going to dominate and replace BPM? This is hard to predict. I believe proponents of each are likely to continue to pursue their own business interests. Whichever develops the best underlying software infrastructure will probably prevail.

I am speaking from considerable experience. I worked for Computervision (CV) when it was the market leader in CAD/CAM. At some point, CV’s president declared the corporate product strategy to be Product Process Automation (PPA). At the time, I agreed with the general objectives but the PPA implementation details were vague. I, therefore, formulated specific plans for my target market. I called the result the Project Integration Management System (PIMS). While I knew there was considerable synergy with PPA, my attempts at collaboration failed.

The aftermath: CV was acquired by Prime 5 years later, which was then acquired by PTC after 10 more years. A similar evolution may occur with businesses pursuing RPA and BPA.

    Michael Grace - PeerSpot reviewer
    Real User

    Sometimes a bad process is just that and technology has little to do with it.  

    By approaching process redesign with a variety of tools you can bring to bear, not just RPA, you ensure the optimal solution. Sometimes it can be inherent application functionality, etc. that solves it. 

    So, I would say it is complementary as one of the solutions that can be used in optimizing a business process.

    KevinO'Rourke - PeerSpot reviewer
    Top 5Integrator

    Definitely complimentary.  BPM is all about process improvement, organizational collaboration and implementing organizational change. 

    RPA Automation of a bad process does not make it a better process - just means that you are doing things poorly faster and with perhaps less oversight ;) ... RPA has existed for a long time (i.e. credit management) - does not mean that the need for business process management has gone away.

    Arpit Agarwal - PeerSpot reviewer
    Top 5LeaderboardReal User

    In my POV, it's not only about RPA and BPM complementing each other. 

    I would rather see this in a much broader context. All these integration technologies like BPM, RPA, ESB, iPaaS, APIM, MFT, etc. complement each other. They are all about creating Hyper Automation Integration Toolset in your organization where all of the above technologies play their roles.

    I don't think any of the above are going to dominate each other rather they will be needed to cover different use cases, which may be a part of the organization's broader integration strategy.

    Neil Simpson - PeerSpot reviewer
    Top 5Integrator

    From a marketing and mindshare perspective RPA is certainly 'dominant' currently, but in practice they are complementary technologies usually utilized to solve different problems. 

    BPM is typically used to improve the *movement* and *tracking* of work between many different humans and information systems, whereas RPA tends to be better at automating the repetitive manual work a *single work performer* would typically be doing on their desktop. 

    We commonly see BPM orchestrating long-running processes with many steps and participants and/or many concurrent requests to keep on top of - and some of those steps/participants can be automated with a robot if there isn't an API or automation already available.

    We actually did a 30min meetup on this topic recently with some further explanation and examples and posted it to YouTube. It seems I can't embed the video, but it can be found at 

    Claudio Salvador - PeerSpot reviewer

    BPM and RPA must be integrated.   The RPA approach is simple and direct, but you are touching the processes.

    Sherif Ibrahim - PeerSpot reviewer
    Top 5Real User

    BPM and RPA are complementing each other. 

    For example, you may automate a process using BPM and at some point, you need to integrate with some legacy applications which could easily be achieved by RPA. 

    KevinO'Rourke - PeerSpot reviewer
    Top 5Integrator

    RPA is only part of the organization's automation activities. Cannot exist in isolation and needs to be incorporated into service improvement activities and overall organization strategy.

    L'GHOUL Youcef - PeerSpot reviewer
    Top 5Real User

    Hi @Nancy_Sachdeva

    I've been using both technologies. In my opinion, they are complementary. Why? 

    In your way to automate a workflow, there are some standard tasks that don't really need a human brain so you integrate with RPA and let the bot do the job. In this case, you'll have a DPA (digital process automation) (BMP+RPA). 

    Evgeny Belenky - PeerSpot reviewer
    Community Manager

    Hello @Venkateswarlu Paturu ​, @Biswajit Mohanty ​, @Okay Akdeniz ​, @HimanshuTejwani ​, @Julio Falcón ​and @Uday Shankar Tummala. Can you please share your professional opinion?

    Thank you.

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