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Business Process Management and Robotic Process Automation – 2 sides of the same Automation coin

SAP invented ERP software more than half a century ago and is since its being committed to deliver efficiently running business processes.

Historically, companies have always been organized into silos. And when Information Technology started to be deployed, organizations have implemented information systems that themselves are siloed: human resource management, accounting management, procurement management, logistics management, etc. The desire to streamline business processes did not appear with Robotic Process Automation, and other approaches exist for years, such as BPM.

What is BPM?


Business Process Management
is a strategic, holistic and structured approach.

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.

It deals with tasks automation, in a user centric way. Compatible with any application existing in the Information System, RPA handles unmodelled, “naturally grown” processes with UI-based automation, which is necessary to integrate legacy systems where APIs don’t exist and direct access to the data is not available.

Often a substitute for manual processes, RPA minimizes keying errors, speeds up work and cuts costs. It frees employees from mundane repetitive tasks and leverages their human skills.

Why not using BPM and RPA together?

As you understand, BPM and RPA are fully complementary. That is why at SAP we decided to integrate them seamlessly, in order to leverage their unique advantages for Intelligent Automation:

SAP Intelligent Business Process Management (Intelligent BPM) consist of a family of services to manage workflows, business rules for decision logic and gain end-to-end process visibility. As part of them, SAP Cloud Platform Workflow automates structured processes while Intelligent RPA helps run repetitive, rule-based, and user interface-focused tasks. SAP Intelligent RPA runs on SAP Cloud Platform Workflow as bot runtime. A workflow can trigger Intelligent RPA bots and vice versa. RPA can be used as a middleware to gather data from core systems or external web sites.

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

  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 SAP Intelligent RPA bot.
  2. The bot triggers the “Customer Onboarding” process in SAP Cloud Platform Workflow.
  3. The bank clerk checks that it is not a cold lead, and send the hot leads to an attended RPA bot – a Digital Assistant in our terminology – who helps in gathering data to execute the KYC mandatory checks for new customer approval.
  4. After approval, the workflow automatically creates the bank account and manages provisioning for checkbook, credit card, web and mobile app access etc, and finally send a confirmation email to the new customer.

Click to enlarge the image

 

Further scenarios could be found in structured enterprises processes which flexible task automations can make even more efficient: Invoice handling, Asset and Purchase Order approvals, IT ticket creation and seat allocation as part of employee onboarding, Request for material price changes…

Integrated that way, SAP Intelligent BPM and SAP Intelligent RPA drive your organization to an unprecedented level of automation, providing the best for your employees and customers and accelerates the time to business outcomes!

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This blog post has been co-written with Sebastian Schroetel, Christopher Aron and Stephan Schluchter and also published on Digitalist Mag.

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