The strengths, differences, and compatibilities of BPA and RPA
As businesses across all sectors acclimate to an increasingly digital, remote, and technology-based landscape, one thing is clear: automation is the way of the future. Automation means greater accuracy, streamlined and efficient processes, fewer employee hours, and reduced costs.
Automating select business processes also allows employees to spend their time and energy on the things that require human attention, like strategy, goal-setting, and complex problem-solving.
The truth, however, is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to automation. Different businesses require different strategies. Further, automation takes several forms. Two of the most common forms of automation, Business Process Automation (BPA) and Robot Process Automation (RPA), present their own strengths, weaknesses, and compatibilities.
Together, BPA and RPA can accelerate your business’s digital evolution.
Business Process Automation (BPA) vs Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
What are the differences, and why are both valuable when it comes to building an efficient, digitally evolved business?
What is BPA?
BPA automates workflows to improve a company’s efficiency. It takes regular, repeated tasks and automates them, minimizing the need for human intervention or eliminating it altogether. BPA spans the entire company, transforming entire processes into a streamlined, efficient workflow.
BPA can be used to automate processes like the following:
- Document routing
- Invoice processing
- Data deletion
- Employee onboarding
- Data entry
- Transaction monitoring
So why implement BPA into your business strategy? The benefits are far-reaching, from improving efficiency to reducing the margin of error.
Other benefits of BPA include:
- Integration across existing applications and departments
- Lower costs
- Increased employee productivity
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Decreased margin of error
- Increased time efficiency
- Higher productivity
- Better standardization
- Improved compliance
How Does BPA Work?
Typically, BPA is set up to run based on a set of triggers and rules. These define when the automated process should start as well as the timing and order of the subsequent steps.
Here is an example of a time when BPA is the ideal solution for an organization:
The HR department at a large retail company onboards 50+ new employees every month. The team is doing the best they can but is overwhelmed and overworked because of time-consuming tasks. These tasks involved multiple departments and thus required inter-departmental communication and coordination.
The company began incorporating BPA to help accelerate the onboarding process. When a new employee is hired, they now receive an automated email with the required paperwork they need to fill out. The BPA software then extracts the data and automatically uploads it to the HR system. The information is then sent to the hiring manager with a checklist that will help them set up the employee for success and ensure they have everything they need.
There is less paperwork, less stress for all employees involved, and the employee is onboarded in less time. Further, the experience is consistent and professional, without room for human error of forgetting paperwork or steps in the process. This causes the employee to have an improved experience of the company as they are onboarded.
Learn more about what automation can do for your business.
BPA and RPA are valuable tools to incorporate into your business strategy. Learn what processes and tasks could be automated—and how much money and time you can save—when you speak with one of AVIO’s consultants.
What is RPA?
RPA takes automation a step further. Companies of all sizes are using RPA to eliminate time-consuming manual tasks so employees can focus on strategic work and tasks that require a greater level of critical thinking skills. RPA uses robots (aka bots) to perform a wide range of rule-based tasks that would typically require human intervention. These bots can interact with pages and data the way humans would, adapting and drawing on existing data to solve problems.
RPA can be used to automate tasks like the following:
- Launch applications and log items
- Process data
- Open and read emails
- Extract data from documents
- Fill out forms
- Merge data
- Augment information
- Integrate with enterprise tools by connecting to system API’s or reading and writing to database
What makes RPA valuable to organizations? RPA represents a higher level of automation than BPA, since bots play the role of humans in extracting, logging, merging, and processing data. This eliminates the need to spend valuable employee hours (and company dollars) on repetitive, high-volume tasks.
Other benefits of utilizing RPA include:
- Process streamlining
- Risk mitigation
- Increased productivity
- Easy implementation – no need to change computer systems
- Decreased margin of error
- Consistency in execution of routine tasks and processes
- 24/7 availability
How Does RPA Work?
The implementation and process of RPA is similar to BPA, in that the system runs on triggers and rules. However, RPA bots have more capacity to function independently and further reduce human error and workload by identifying and solving problems, filling gaps, and reconciling differences as they work.
Here is one example highlighting how RPA can be successfully implemented as a key part of an organization’s strategy:
A global Bank that provides banking, wealth management, asset servicing, and investment solutions to institutions and retail clients has more than 100 investment products that encompass mutual funds, ETF’s, separate accounts, and collective trusts. Their IT landscape for the investment team consists of seven independent systems and one legacy database.
On a quarterly basis, the bank's third party intermediaries (consultants and wholesalers) need investment product information to help them sell their products to their clients. Every intermediary has their own way of capturing the data, so the bank needs to export the data into spreadsheets, databases, web applications, and documents that suit their needs. Three people on the investment team spend 21 days after each quarter extracting, transforming, and exporting data from each of the eight internal systems and inputting it into the intermediary preferred endpoint. Due to the manual nature of the work, 10% of the data entered into the intermediary's systems was erroneous. This created a sense of frustration and caused confusion from the end clients.
The amount of time the team has to spend managing the data was reduced from 21 to 7 days. The data error rate fell from 10% to under 1%, which meant both the intermediaries and the clients had a higher level of satisfaction since the data was being reported correctly. Sales increased by 5% due to the increased time the team could spend on sales strategy rather than moving around and reorganizing data. The intermediaries and the clients had a higher level of satisfaction, since their data was being reported correctly.
An unexpected outcome of the automation exercise was the reduction in turnover amongst the team due to the reduction in tedious and repetitive tasks.
The Major Differences Between BPA and RPA
At a glance, BPA presents more of a holistic approach than RPA. BPA addresses end-to-end processes company-wide, solving problems and streamlining processes that span the entire organization. In this way, BPA invades and alters entire processes, representing a major overhaul throughout the company.
RPA, on the other hand, works at a more granular level, replacing time-consuming tasks without disrupting existing business processes. RPA can be seamlessly integrated into existing BPA software like ERPs and CRMs—a chat tool is one very popular and highly recognizable example of how RPA bots interact, adapt, and pull data rather than requiring humans to perform the tasks.
Put another way, BPA represents the strategic, far-reaching application of automation, while RPA is a tactical, on-the-ground implementation that functions within the framework of BPA.
Whatever form it takes, automation can drastically improve the full spectrum of business needs whether it be automating a few small tasks or overhauling and streamlining a process from end-to-end.
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