BPA – Why? We already have BPM! Can they co-exist?

BPA – Why? We already have BPM! Can they co-exist?

So your company has invested a great deal of money and countless hours into planning and implementing a Business Process Management (BPM) suite in an operating department. Now your boss starts asking you about something they read about Business Process Automation (BPA) and if your department could benefit from it – how do you respond?

While both a BPA and BPM project starts with some type of Business Process Mapping, and both aim to improve business process efficiencies, there are differences. Here is a quick look at some of the differences between the two.

Business Process Management:

  1. BPM projects tend to do an extremely deep dive into a business process looking for ways to “optimize” business process. These focus on holistic process improvement and not necessarily on process automation.
  2. Processes tend to be limited to a single functional area, and there are clearly defined boundaries. There are manual or clunky systematic handoffs between outside departments.
  3. BPM systems typically use a “pull” methodology in how work is presented to the end user. Users work from task “lists”, and pull their work from those lists. This method of work delivery leads to “cherry picking”, where a user will pull the work that he or she is most comfortable completing.

See the Wikipedia definition of BPM.

Business Process Automation:

  1. Means taking a process and looking for repeatable, manual steps within that process that can be automated using technology to increase efficiency.
  2. BPA implementations also cross functional areas to consolodate handoffs and present work to a user in a single unified interface.
  3. BPA software resides as a layer over top several disparate back end systems pulling and pushing data between these systems. The user will work from one interface instead of having to jump between multiple screens for multiple systems.
  4. BPA lends itself to co-exist with other systems including BPM systems. It should be used to create an end to end system with no boundaries between functional areas. It is not meant to replace but work with other systems such as CRM, IVR, backend mainframe systems, SQL based systems, web services and finally BPM and ERP systems. BPA ties all of the existing systems together for the end user and offers craddle to grave tracking and reporting.

See the Wikipedia definition of BPA.

BPA and specifically Communications-Based Process Automation (CBPA) seek to give organizations end to end automation and to utilize skills based routing. Again, this is the concept of “push” vs. “pull” methodology for delivering work to the user with the appropriate skill to complete. Instead of an end user’s “pulling”, the work it is “pushed”, similar to how a telephone call routes to a user in a contact center.  “Work” can be a document, a telephone call, an email, or a chat that routes to the next available user.

These are just a few high level differences that I have experienced working on both types of implementations.  I would love to hear others’ opinions and experience on the subject. What are your experiences with BPM, BPA or CBPA systems?

What differences have you noticed?

Patrick Patton

Patrick Patton

Patrick Patton

I started with Interactive Intelligence in October 2011 as a Pre-Sales Consultant for the Strategic Initiatives Group. In this role I work with companies who are looking for opportunities to utilize process automation tools, and review their current business processes to find those opportunities. Previously, I spent ten years with a Fortune 25 health insurance company and that is where I first encountered Interactive Intelligence in 2008. As the technology Director for an internal sales contact center, I led a team that implemented the Interactive telephony solution. Over the next three years I became very familiar with Interactive Intelligence as a company, their products and many of the employees. I was so impressed with what I had seen that I set a personal goal to find a position within the company. I have over 15 years’ experience in continuous/process improvement, project management, and operations. I am always interested in learning about new technologies and the creative ways companies and people are using them. On a personal note I am a car enthusiast (gearhead), enjoy travelling, and recently have taken up photography as a hobby.