How Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM) can be used in harmony for digital success

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a form of clerical process automation based on software robots that replicate the actions of a human being interacting with a computer’s user interface.  According to Forrester, the RPA market that was approximately $250 million in 2016 is expected to reach $2.9 billion by 2021. On the other hand, Business Process Management (BPM) is a systematic approach to improving an organization’s performance by automating and optimizing their business processes. The global BPM market that was $6.96 billion in 2016 is expected to reach 13.52 billion by 2021 according to an analysis by Markets and Markets. Since both RPA and BPM markets are expecting a reasonable growth in the upcoming years, it will be interesting to see how a combination of both will make an impact in the market.

Here, I would like to discuss how RPA and BPM can complement each other and be used harmoniously to achieve digital success in an organization. To structure this discussion, I will use APQC’s Process Classification Framework (PCF) that provides a holistic view of any organization’s entire value chain, business processes, and procedures by classifying these across five hierarchical levels. Level 1: Process Category, Level 2: Process Group, Level 3: Processes, Level 4: Sub processes and Level 5: Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)/Tasks/Work Instructions. BPM is especially well suited in optimizing an organization’s value chain and business processes categorized between Level 1 and Level 4 in the PCF hierarchy. BPM makes available graphical modeling languages such as Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), and Value-Added Chain Diagram (VACD) to document, optimize and automate business processes spanning between Levels 1 and 4 using industry standards and best practices. Whereas work instructions and SOPs making up Level 5 in the PCF hierarchy are typically rote activities carried out using step-by-step instructions to achieve quality, uniformity, and compliance. RPA can be a great fit for automating such rote work instructions and SOPs. To demonstrate how BPM and RPA can work in harmony, let’s consider the use case of a global insurer managing customer requests for new policy coverage. In this scenario, BPM can be used to optimize and automate business processes such as new business policy underwriting, asset management and payment processes. RPA can be used in harmony with BPM to eliminate costly manual processing steps and time-consuming integrations by providing a scalable, accurate, and secure digital workforce. There is already evidence that major BPM players are partnering with market-leading robotic process automation offerings with a view of attaining higher synergies in achieving client’s digital success. Some examples include Appian’s partnership with Blue Prism, IBM’s partnership with Automation Anywhere, and Pegasystems acquisition of Openspan.

To summarize, RPA can be effectively used in harmony with BPMS by focusing each technology’s strength for the appropriate use case to achieve much greater end-to-end automation. In case you’re interested in using RPA and BPM to achieve digital success for your organization, please feel free to contact us at