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RPA Vs BPM - Major Differences

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In this article, we will see an excellent differentiation between what an RPA system is as a BPM system. This article should be a cakewalk if you have followed our previous articles about what RPA is and how it functions individually and the like.

RPA and BPM are more similar and as such are often confused with each other respectively. The confusion can be well explained as these are from the same family of applications but can never be mentioned as identical twins because of their obvious differences. With no further delay, let us get going with the differences between an RPA system and a BPM system in the section below.

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Difference between RPA and BPM

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the next Industry buzzword after the CLOUD. It is that emerging trend or a breed of technology that is making the news in the industries of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. RPA is very much System agnostic, which makes it a key differentiator for anyone who looks in the view of automating things in a better manner than the old and orthodox ways of doing things. Taking this understanding a step further, RPA can further be classified into two categories:

1. Screen Scraping or Screen Capturing

Tools like these are specifically designed to focus on certain areas of a web page or a form and get the details from specific fields using coordinates on the screen, giving necessary instructions to move the mouse pointer to a specific position and then to ‘click’. These works until and unless there are any changes to the coordinates of the specific fields or buttons.

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2. Product-specific Workflows

  • Many of the big-time ERP vendors bundle along with workflow tools along with their software products which have pretty awesome features like scheduling tasks, triggering actions such as emails or alerts. Having said that, these systems were not that agnostic and were also complex to use.
  • Having discussed the two approaches or categories, RPA is an amalgam of both of these approaches – in other words, it can be mentioned as the natural evolution of these two approaches into one. Today’s RPA solutions are such that they are enterprise scalable the moment they are put to use. Processes in an RPA system are shown in a step-by-step process to the robots instead of coding them or providing any script based on which they are supposed to take action, hence makes it very much possible to mimic human beings with this process.
  • By doing so, we can comfortably take it into granted that it is a low-risk process. The tools now recognize the fields that are supposed to be focused instead of blindly relying on the screen coordinates to fetch values of specific fields. This makes it easy on the transformation of the system, if there are changes in the position of the field or the field itself is modified to look something different – such changes are well digested by the RPA solutions without much change required from the process front. The software robots that are used in the RPA systems read the applications using the APIs or the Operating System itself. This can be treated as a step in the training the robots altogether as they are trained to read various screens of the applications based on the need be.
  • As a result of the above points that we have discussed, RPA tools are business tools that are for non-technical users too. Earlier, this wasn’t the case as deploying automation on large-scale applications needed software expertise and also technical expertise to a certain extent, which is now completely wiped off with the advent of RPA based solutions. RPA is completely code-free and is also platform agnostic. This makes RPA a low-cost, low complexity, very agile tool in any process engineer’s toolkit – isn’t it?
  • Business Process Automation (BPA) / Business Process Management (BPM) platforms, on the other hand, allows individuals to create the necessary process automation workflows that have the capability to integrate with various systems to exchange information and also to handle situations that involves automating some of the necessary human interaction tasks. One of the major disadvantages to such a system is that these require APIs and also database access for various requirements, which requires coding, development which can sometimes be very time-consuming for Organizations. Situations get even worse if the Customers deny providing any access to their Application databases or if the application doesn’t support any further API integration that is well required. These are the scenarios where Organizations can count on RPA systems to fit in for their automation requirements and can also help pitch in their intelligent software robots to capture and execute the most repeatable jobs in a complete non-programmatic manner (which were earlier performed by a human, of course).
Related Page: Frequently Asked RPA Interview Questions & Answers


Let us put down some of the most important points that can briefly differentiate between RPA and BPM as per the requirements or needs. We will take up the topic in the piece of the section below:

Robotic Process Automation
Business Process Management
RPA system can be defined as the use of software with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and also Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to handle high volume repeatable tasks which would have previously required an individual to perform these tasks.
BPM system can be defined as the systematic approach to making an Organization’s workflow more effective, efficient, and capable of adapting to ever-changing environments.
Business Goal
RPA systems help reduce the headcount involved with the effective use of “software robots.”
BPM systems, on the other hand, would require spending time on reengineering the processes that are underlying in order to drive the central tools.
Core Activity
Most of the repetitive tasks can be automated completely in a non-programmatic manner by training the robots to complete all such activities.
BPM systems might have to define and also implement the whole process of a management model for the enterprise as such.
Technical Approach
The approach is completely simple and does not involve many technicalities to be worried about. The changes that are made, can easily be applied without making any changes to the existing applications and also to the underlying systems.
BPM systems might have to bring in a new application definition and also might have to work on a comprehensive integration into the underlying systems to the single-process model.
Time and Impact
Implementation of any changes to the application can be completed within days and this might not necessarily make any changes to the existing User Interfaces that are used to drive these applications.
Implementation can go into a huge scale investment in time and effort, thus impacting the business on the whole. Not just the development that requires the time but also to test all the specific business scenarios might eat up precious business time until these changes are made available for the Organizations to consume them.

Based on all the details that are provided until now, it makes clear the pros and cons of each of these business automation systems. Now you might have the same question dwelling around your thoughts, on which one to choose for your own business system. Well, to answer this in specific, this will definitely require the objectives of the automation project that needs to be built for the Organizations. If the major goal of the project is to automate the most common and the most repetitive tasks of a process, then RPA is your tool to automate such processes and if you require more sophisticated business workflows to be triggered at each point in time of your automation – then it is your BPM systems that cling into the picture completing your business automation processes.


In this article, we have gone through a thorough differentiation between an RPA system and a BPM system to understand the pros and cons of each of these systems in discussion. Hope you have gained a lot of knowledge from this article and hope you were able to answer the question – Isn’t Business Process Management / Automation about the same thing that Robotic Process Automation does?

Kindly provide your feedback through the comments section below, to put in extra efforts to bring the best of the articles for you to get knowledge from.

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Last updated: 03 Apr 2023
About Author

Ravindra Savaram is a Technical Lead at Mindmajix.com. His passion lies in writing articles on the most popular IT platforms including Machine learning, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, RPA, Deep Learning, and so on. You can stay up to date on all these technologies by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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