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BPA/RPA/IPA: Which one suits your business best?

Automation has become a core piece in many digital transformation projects. The larger the organization, the more employees it has, the more complex the processes are - the more important automation is. It’s where business process management and automation come into play for better efficiency, productivity and profitability.

The wide range of advantages that process management and automation commonly bring to different business functions across various industries include cost efficiency, higher productivity, improved accuracy, consistent delivery and reduced manual efforts.

To get the most out of process management and automation technologies, you need to get your head around what process tools and steps you can leverage to accomplish a successful result-driven automation project.

These automation technologies are not interchangeable

Business Process Management (BPM) is a methodology, rather than a specific method or tool, to streamline business processes by end-to-end re-engineering and identifying opportunities for continual improvement and standardization. BPM does not necessarily compromise automation, but automation is usually integrated to optimize the overall workflows.

Business Process Automation (BPA) is used to improve an organization’s efficiency with a focus on end-to-end business processes. With its holistic and big-picture oriented approach, BPA does not focus on individual tasks, it disrupts your overall processes. As BPM unfolds a business’s underlying inefficiencies in its processes and workflows, company can implement BPA software, which can integrate with different applications, to eliminate potential bottlenecks that drain your resources.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) automates highly repetitive and labor-intensive tasks by leveraging capabilities of software bots to imitate human’s interactions with applications. RPA can be applied to handle high-volume and structured data for rule-based manual actions that do not involve much contextual analysis. Queries, calculations, data entry, forms filling and producing reports are examples of where RPA blooms across different business units and industries.

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) is the next level of RPA which incorporates the use of AI technologies like machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP) and data mining. The cognitive ability of IPA allows it to accommodate both structured and unstructured data, and learn how to improve existing processes better automatically over time. By understanding human language and context, IPA’s human-like intelligence recognizes human speech in channels like documents, images and emails, then extracts useful data for decision-making processes.

How to choose which one fits your automation initiative

You now have a better understanding of the nuances between these technologies – so which suits your automation project the best? To achieve better business results from automation, it is a must to build a strategic roadmap involving defining clear goals, identifying right business processes, selecting key stakeholders and creating a proper project implementation plan. Yet, with above outlines of different technologies, you can still have a preliminary idea of which one to leverage for your automation strategies.

BPA – End-to-end business processes across departments and teams which involve disruption of existing processes, reducing process duplication and optimizing resource allocation. If you are looking for a re-engineering for the overall processes, BPA software overhauls your existing systems and integrates different business processes and applications to streamline the flow of data across the organization.

RPA – Low-level and rule-based tasks that can be repeated without frequent changes to the processes. RPA bots operate within existing systems so if you do not want to disrupt processes already in place, RPA is a suitable choice for you to be deployed at a fraction of time and costs.

IPA – Workflows involving documents, images and videos, or processes demanding any cognitive decision-making assistance. When you need more than merely mimicking activities performed by humans, IPA can be a promising solution as it goes beyond RPA with continuous improvement on existing processes. Yet, you need data sets to get started with IPA before its human-like intelligence can help you with decision making.

Complex projects call for more than one technology

Thanks to the distinctive benefits and limitations of each automation solution, companies today start embracing a mix of them to form an all-encompassing automation strategy to solve complex business challenges - all of them are not mutually exclusive. Combining their power to complement each other brings you the greater versatility and scalability, which makes your automation strategy more intelligent to streamline complex business processes.

A typical use case of integrating more than one technology would be BPA automating the entire business process – like the process at a bank to receive mortgage applications, while RPA is used for specific steps within the process – like updating records between databases, and IPA is used for extract and examine relevant data from application documents in order to provide insights for assessments.

Another use case of a combination of BPA and IPA.

Contact our automation team to find out how your organization can be benefited from automation technologies.


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