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Is Robotic Process Automation a friend or foe of BPM?


It’s the 21st century, let’s have the virtual workforce talking to the machine room!

Reduce IT integration costs and time-to-market of your Business Process Management (BPM) initiative by means of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a hot topic in the financial service industry, and leaders of Business Process Management (BPM) initiatives are confused by the fact that RPA vendors seemingly claim the same value proposition as Business Process Management Software providers. Both claim to be the magic bullet to optimize, digitalize and automate business processes.

Our hands-on experience indicates a different picture. Both technologies are viable toolsets for Lean and other business process improvement initiatives and complement each other.

RPA aims to automate manual and repetitive processes resulting in faster and more efficient process execution as well as high availability and scalability of processes. Virtual workers are accurate because they are programmed to follow specific rules of the process around the clock in a «lights-out » environment. RPA also provides a viable alternative to a traditional complex system integration. Robots trigger existing applications and are therefore non-invasive.

In contrast, BPM platforms provide an end-to-end process orchestration across different departments or even external organizations and clients with an end-user interface. The main goal of BPM in a technology sense is to connect people, information and systems across boundaries. This leads to improved business agility, better transparency and higher efficiency.

To achieve such an end-to-end integration, numerous systems and services need to be integrated. With the «Smart BPM Integration» approach, RPA acts as an efficient system integrator. This reduces both complexity and risks as well as business analysis efforts and increases the scope of the BPM footprint. When reusing existing code built out of an RPA initiative, the business case becomes even more attractive.

Project example: Smart BPM Integration of a self-service online client onboarding

An illustrative case is the integration of a self-service online client onboarding portal. This process includes numerous systems like the public website, core banking, CRM and KYC system. A traditional system integration would become quite complex and costly since an interface would have to be built for each of the connected systems.

A complete end-to-end automation was finally enabled by smart integration via RPA:

Grafik 04.12.17

The low costs and short time to market tremendously improved and facilitated the business case for the self-service client onboarding and created additional value by providing a seamless process with instant client feedback.

Grafik für den Artikel vom 4.12.17

Benefits of the Smart BPM Integration

Both automation solutions union the advantage of releasing human workforce from processing on simple and repetitive tasks. This capacity can be re-invested to be used in more value-adding services.

We believe that the Smart BPM Integration (by means of virtual APIs) is a powerful approach to (a) extend the scope of BPM initiatives and (b) reduce integration costs and time to market. It is especially powerful when it comes to integrating legacy systems. With the increasing maturity of the BPM- and RPA initiatives, additional business cases will profit from the economies of scale due to the reusability of the software modules defined for BPM and RPA.


David Steiger
Associate Partner
 David Steiger
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