A couple years ago when RPA solutions were first introduced in the market, it wasn’t clear exactly what activities can be supported or performed by them. In many cases professionals thought that RPA can be subsidized with BPM solutions, therefore leading to the question: why would we need to implement RPA when we already have a BPM suite in the company? And the way around: if we implement RPA, why would we need BPM?
Experience on the other hand shows that these two systems cannot replace each other, much rather act as complementary solutions. By combining the abilities of the two systems, never before seen levels of automation can be achieved.
RPA does not manage end to end business processes. On the other hand, it is able to mimic human actions on desktop computers, therefore automating tedious, repetitive tasks. Of course, these tasks are performed much faster and without errors too.
BPM – aka workflow – systems are able to manage end to end business processes, and perform all related activities on the server side. Thus, BPM is not able to directly access desktops or mimic human behaviour.
By combining these solutions, the advantages of both systems can be harnessed: BPM manages end to end business processes and invokes a robot in the RPA environment to perform desktop based, previously human tasks. In other words, the RPA becomes a subordinate of the workflow: it starts working automatically on tasks distributed by the workflow, when required by the process, so that the whole process can be performed without human interaction.
No matter what type of business process we consider, it is sure that some sort of data will be necessary to be used for completing it. As long as such data is available in the workflows database – or it is accessible by an API – the process can be run without human interaction. But what if the required data is only available on desktops, for any reason? This is where RPA comes into the picture: it is able to gather data from the desktop without integration, process it as needed, and then forward it to the BPM systems, hence enabling automatic process run. The BPM system and the RPA is integrated to achieve such operations. Let’s see a practical example of the synergies between these systems!
The BPM systems sends a request to UiPath RPA, requesting data or other activity to be performed by an RPA agent.
The UiPath Orchestrator module starts the required robots so that they perform the tasks requested by the BPM system.
Once the activities are performed and the required data is gathered, UiPath sends it back to the BPM system through an API.
Beyond the examples and cases mentioned above, there are a number of ways through which the power of RPA and BPM can be harnessed. Most repetitive, administrational tasks can be automated – at least partly, or mostly – using this integrated solution.
An integrated RPA/BPM solution opens up new horizons in supporting the daily job of administrators. As RPA agents are able to be incorporated into desktop work performed by human workforce, and can be initiated by triggers, they become able to support the administrators’ job on the fly. What it means in practice is that once the current job, performed by human workforce, reaches a certain point, it triggers the robot, which in turn will perform sub-tasks related to the current job. Therefore it is able to free working time for the administrator, while speeding up the performance of given tasks. After the job is fully performed on the desktop, the robot sends all data to the workflow system, which will push the whole process further (it goes without saying that all tasks are incorporated into business processes, right?). Since both BPM and RPA software can be fully customized, it will always adopt to the exact needs of a given organization. Furthermore, robots are able to perform unlimited task types as long as resources and deadlines are sufficient!