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What Is the Difference Between RPA vs BPM?
Technological transformation and the evolution of digital systems have greatly benefited the operations of companies and brands all over the world. This development has provided tremendous benefits to businesses, easing their operations and helping them grow to achieve their goals and desired profits.

With these tech developments, however, there has also arisen an expectation of better productivity and efficiency, as well as impeccable service and products.

In creating efficiency, optimizing productivity, and improving service provision and operations, this is where Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM) come into play. Let's take a look at what they are, how they differ, and what they can do for your business both together and independently.

What Is RPA?

what is rpa 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is software technology or tools that automate repetitive business tasks. The system uses software bots, artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate operations and complete actions and tasks that would otherwise be performed by human beings. RPA can automate tasks relating to data entry, extraction, or movement, among other areas including:

  • Customer service provision
  • Sales and order management
  • Lead acquisition
  • Refund management
  • Payroll control
  • Employee recruitment procedures
  • Invoice processing and management
  • Material price comparisons
  • Continuous testing

While such automation capabilities are nothing particularly new, software solutions that serve this purpose only are recently growing popular.

What Is BPM?


Business Process Management (BPM) is a practice that allows for the analysis and management of business processes. It's an approach that lists the business activities and aims to improve them. It includes the modeling and design, automation, optimization, monitoring, control, and implementation of business activities.

This is done within and beyond company boundaries including both internal factors such as your employees and external factors like your suppliers and customers. Essentially, it is a methodology for the optimization and automation of integrated business processes.

Poorly managed processes can lead to:

  • More delays
  • Wasted time
  • Increased errors
  • Poor data access and visibility
  • Displeased employees
  • Lower productivity levels
  • Poor customer service
  • Lack of accountability

Through BPM and process management software, you manage and repair damaged and sometimes chaotic processes that harm your operations by causing bottlenecks and operational inefficiencies. You also reap the benefits of process mapping.

The Differences Between RPA and BPM

RPA and BPM both emphasize the importance and need to have optimized and efficient systems and processes. However, they do have fundamental differences that should not be confused.

Exactly What RPA and BPM Are

RPA is a kind of software that improves said operations through automation. BPM, on the other hand, is a methodology and a practice; it's the actions taken to improve operations.


While both RPA and BPM involve automation, the latter does not always prioritize it. With BPM, you may automate your processes but automation is not the only purpose and approach taken for process improvements. You can introduce other measures under BPM like a workflow platform.

Conversely, RPA is all about the idea that certain repetitive tasks can and should be automated to improve processes. If you have any doubt which is which at any given point, remember that the word "automation" is in RPA after all, explaining everything you need to know about what it aims to do.


This automation factor leads to another basic difference in these systems - how they are used. Yes, they both enhance operations and company processes, but they do this in different ways. RPA has the fantastically useful benefit of control. As it is software, you can program it to do exactly what you want, with minimum human effort, minimal delays, and better efficiency and accuracy due to the removal of human error. It is fantastic for productivity and the optimization of resources and costs.

BPM can have wonderful benefits for your business use, too. As it's a practice and a discipline, it's easy to get creative with and add unique and tailored approaches that fit your business at a given point in time. This makes it a smart choice for businesses looking to grow. It can also be used to encourage innovation in different departments by introducing digital tools and technologies that refine your organization's operation.


RPA focuses on repetitive tasks that do not require human collaboration and decision-making. Instead, it takes actions and decisions on its own and implements tasks independently.

BPM implementation includes additional software systems and tech tools to bolster and support the work done through automation. Some of these tools, unlike automation, require higher levels of human involvement which means implementation will involve employees.  


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Can They Work Together?

The definitions and distinctions between RPA and BPM demonstrate one thing - that these systems are not at odds with one another. Instead, they can clearly work together to enhance your organization's procedures. This is because BPM, which improves processes, can benefit immensely from the work done through RPA, which automates processes. In a simplified view of their relationship, one could even argue that RPA can be seen as a subcategory within BPM.

This is a symbiotic and complementary dynamic because RPA can't make improvements without the strategy and planning that goes into BPM. Ineffective or damaged processes cannot be fixed through automation; only sped up and scheduled. Conversely, BPM can offer paths to improve processes through automation, but it needs RPA as a practical tool to make this happen.


RPA and BPM are distinct systems and concepts in your business management. However, although they diverge and have varying uses, implementation approaches, priorities, and purposes, they can work extremely well together. Each is beneficial to the success of the other.

In the case of BPM, you might be able to get away with not turning to RPA, but RPA certainly cannot exist without smart business process management. For the growth and prosperity of your business, however, you'll definitely want to utilize both when setting up and maintaining the best business processes.



Alister Esam - CEO and Founder, Process Bliss

Alister Esam 

Alister Esam is the CEO and Founder of Process Bliss, a work management software that is reinventing how businesses execute day to day tasks. He is an expert in strategic planning, managing business processes, and business process optimization. With more than 15 years of experience in helping businesses run at peak efficiency, Alister has dedicated his career to make work easier, and more motivating for managers and employees alike. Here is his LinkedIn.

Published Thursday, July 22, 2021 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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