Business Process Management And Robotic Process Automation: Two Sides Of The Same Automation Coin

Sebastian Schroetel and Christopher Aron

Part 8 in the Intelligent RPAseries about the evolution of robotic process automation and its potential impact on digital transformation.

Historically, companies have always been organized into silos. And when they started to deploy information technology, they implemented information systems that themselves were siloed: human resource management, accounting management, procurement management, logistics management, etc. The desire to streamline business processes has existed for years with huge demand for business process management (BPM) and more recently with robotic process automation (RPA).

What is BPM?

Business process management is a strategic, holistic, and structured approach for optimizing notable repetitive tasks. It deals with process orchestration, extension, optimization, and, of course, innovation. BPM manages structured business processes by bringing human and automated activities into a managed sequence of steps. It fosters teamwork, streamlines collaboration, and automates production workflows.

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation is a tactical, focused, and agile approach for accelerating manual processes. It deals with task automation in a user-centric way. Compatible with any application existing in the information system, RPA handles unmodeled, “naturally grown” processes with UI-based automation. Automation is necessary to integrate legacy systems where APIs don’t exist and direct access to the data is not available. RPA minimizes keying errors, speeds up work, and cuts costs. It frees employees from mundane, repetitive tasks and leverages their human skills for more important tasks.

Why not use BPM and RPA together?

BPM and RPA are fully complementary. They can be integrated seamlessly to leverage their advantages for intelligent automation.

Today’s solutions encompass services that manage workflows and business rules for decision logic to provide end-to-end process visibility. Architects can design and implement structured, automated processes in the cloud, while intelligent RPA helps run repetitive, rule-based, and user interface-focused tasks. An intelligent BPM (iBPM) workflow can trigger intelligent RPA bots and vice versa. RPA can be used as a middleware to gather data from core systems or external websites.

Let’s imagine a use case in banking for onboarding new customers:

  1. A request from a prospect, coming from an email received from the bank’s website or a visit to a bank’s branch, is handled by an intelligent RPA bot.
  1. The bot triggers the “Customer Onboarding” process in the workflow.
  1. The bank clear checks that it is not a cold lead and sends the hot leads to an attended RPA bot – a digital assistant, in our terminology – that helps gather data to execute the know-your-customer mandatory checks for new-customer approval.
  1. After approval, the workflow automatically creates the bank account and manages provisioning for the checkbook, credit card, web, and mobile app access, and finally sends a confirmation email to the new customer.

Additional scenarios could be found in structured enterprise processes, which can be made even more efficient with flexible task automation for things like invoice handling, asset and purchase order approvals, IT ticket creation, seat allocation as part of employee onboarding, request for material price changes, and so on.

Integrated this way, intelligent BPM and intelligent RPA can drive your organization to an unprecedented level of automation, providing the best for your employees and customers and accelerating the time to business outcomes.

Please visit our SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation web page, and contact us for more information about SAP Intelligent RPA and integrated business process management.

Sebastian Schroetel

About Sebastian Schroetel

Sebastian Schroetel is a director at SAP for machine learning in the digital core. In this role, Sebastian and his global team shape and create machine learning solutions for SAP's core ERP products. Sebastian has 10 years of experience in innovation software development, with focus on automation, analytics, and data processing.

Christopher Aron

About Christopher Aron

Chris Aron is Global GTM lead for SAP Cloud Platform’s Integration Suite and Intelligent BPM portfolio. Chris works across regions and industries with customers, system integrators, and technology partners to evangelize and ensure adoption of SAP’s broad range of PaaS capabilities. Internally, Chris works closely with local sales and product teams, launching new capabilities and long term strategies. Over the last 20 years, Chris has nurtured and grown technology adoption for various companies including AT&T, CenturyLink, and Ericsson. Originally from England, Chris is based in Denver, Colorado.