The Main Difference between BPM and RPA

What is BPM and RPA?

In order to understand the main difference between BPM and RPA we first need to define what they are used for.


In the past, companies looked at how they could automate individual tasks. This was called RPA, or Robotic Process Automation. This included using software to analyse data and identify patterns in order to predict when a specific action should happen in order for the process to work optimally.


But recently, some new developments have been introduced into our industry that focuses on automating business processes in a more holistic method than just automating individual tasks. These are called BPM, or Business Process Management.


BPM is a much more complex way of improving operations because it looks at the entire process behind activities such as sales and customer service and tries to optimise that entire process from start to finish based on historical data about when those activities happen and what actions are taken during those times in order for them to work optimally.

The main difference between BPM and RPA

To put it simply, the main difference between BPM and RPA is the scope of work they automate. BPM automates complex processes that involve multiple steps, while RPA automates individual tasks in a process.


Since BPM encompasses processes that may or may not include automation, it is a holistic approach to process improvement. When considering how to optimise a process through BPM, the end goal of the organisation and its overarching strategy should be considered. Many times, RPA is one part of the solution, but an effective BPM system considers more than just RPA when identifying and implementing solutions.


RPA is a type of BPM that focuses on the automation of repetitive tasks, typically through the use of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI). Automating these tasks enables companies to improve their efficiency and productivity. However, this type of automation only represents one part of broader business process management. 


In many cases, smaller tasks are automated with RPA in order to increase efficiency within a larger system. Thus, RPA can be seen as a subset of BPM since it only automates parts of complex processes rather than entire processes themselves.

What is workflow in BPM?

Workflow is a sequence of rules and tasks within an application that controls the flow of information through the business. These workflows must be carefully designed to anticipate shifting needs and regulations, help employees bridge process gaps, and streamline inefficient processes. 


In order for workflows to be effective in BPM software, they need to be flexible enough to accommodate potential changes, repeatable enough so that they can be used across multiple processes, and reliable enough so that you can count on them working seamlessly every time.

How to choose between BPM and RPA

When choosing between RPA or BPM, it’s important to carefully consider what you need to automate to maximise your results. The difference between the two comes down to the starting point:


  • If your process is already well-defined and laid out like a flowchart, then you probably have a good candidate for RPA automation
  • If your process isn’t well-defined and you’re struggling with standardisation, you should consider BPM software before looking at tools for automation.

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Peter Shields
Peter Shields

With extensive experience of Quality Management, Risk & Compliance in the Energy, Nuclear & Defence industries since 1979, Peter formed BusinessPort in 1996 to specialise in Process-based Management Systems delivering both Performance and Compliance.

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