Sometimes all these three-letter acronyms (TLAs) can be confusing in the world of technology. You might worry that when you ask a question you’re comparing apples to oranges. But when was the last time you actually stopped to ponder the similarities between apples and oranges? They’ve actually got a lot in common with one another. Apples and oranges are both fruits which have evolved to help spread their seeds by encouraging animals to eat them and thus spreads their seeds. Both apples and oranges have been heavily modified by human agricultural practices, and both can be part of a healthy breakfast.

Metaphorically, this is true of BPM and RPA, but let’s dig in a bit deeper.

Business Process Management can be confusing because it is both a technology and a methodology. Let’s explain the BPM methodology first, then we’ll talk about the tech.

Business Process Management involves describing your business processes using a visual modeling tool-set called Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). BPMN drawings can be combined to connect multiple processes together into a comprehensive workflow. Using this common notation method, multiple vendors have created tools to turn the BPMN models into rapid application development platforms. Among those vendors, IBM BPM is an industry leader and Apex Process Consultants has deep expertise in leveraging the IBM BPM platform to craft process improvement and process automation solutions.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) involves using customized software tools to automate repetitive or difficult computer tasks. This can speed up difficult user interfaces by having reliable bots perform the steps, and it can be used to perform swivel-seat interactions where legacy systems have data not available for the newer systems in a company.

So BPM and RPA are both used to improve efficiency within a company, but through very different approaches. BPM can be used to improve processes by getting rid of inefficient choke-points that might not be visible without seeing the process drawn out using BPMN. Also, the efficiency of a BPM solution can involve leveraging the task management engine underneath the process. IBM BPM, for example, can handle many thousands of concurrent tasks and route them properly for approval and execution. This helps provide a reliable framework for automation and labor reduction.

Meanwhile, RPA bots help improve efficiency by flawlessly executing complicated tasks and reducing the need for a human interaction with legacy systems. So — what is the difference between BPM and RPA? BPM helps you model your business processes and RPA helps you automate your systems tasks. And while they are different technologies, Apex Process Consultants can help you leverage either of them or both to make your business work better.