What’s Business Process Automation? An Explanation of the Practice & the Acronyms.


As companies look for ways to streamline operations, increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve accuracy, the use of business process automation (BPA) continues to grow and expand. But what is BPA exactly?

It’s not uncommon for people to picture physical processes when they hear “automation”—you know, items being zipped through a manufacturing facility on a conveyor belt with additions and modifications being made to them all along the way.

But while business process automation might have physical elements in some cases (like the scanning of paper forms or correspondence from customers), more often the term refers to the receipt, categorization, labeling, storing and retrieving of digital data, and wherever possible, the elimination of physical processes.

For example, rather than having an employee read information from a spreadsheet and key it into a database, BPM handles the task electronically and automatically. The data is retrieved from the spreadsheet cells and copied to the appropriate fields in the database in the blink of an eye. And, with no chance of a manual keying error.

Business Process Management: Seeing (and Modifying) the Big Picture

Another term you may hear in conversations about automating business activities is business process management (BPM). As Wikipedia defines it, “Business process management (BPM) is a discipline in operations management in which people use various methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, optimize, and automate business processes.”

In other words, a business process management expert might recommend business process automation as a way to handle certain tasks more efficiently and derive more value from them. So, the terms business process management and business process automation are closely related, but they aren’t synonyms.

Robotic Process Automation: Where Ideas Become Actions

At a more granular level, robotic process automation (RPA) is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. You receive data in format X but you want to store it in format Y. A software “robot” (like our Buddha Botz) can be developed to do that for you, leveraging rules that you define to ensure the process happens correctly every time.

Software robots can be tools that you initiate manually as needed, or they can be set up to run on a schedule or to execute when certain conditions are detected. You can also define a group of robots that run in sequence, with the completion of one triggering the execution of the next.

Other Automation-Related Terms and the Secret Sauce

Beyond BPA, BPM and RPA, there are other terms you’ll encounter related to the automating of business processes—things like content services (using “smart” data capture techniques to make the management of the content produced or received by companies more efficient) and workflow transformation (simplifying and streamlining the way work makes its way through an organization).

Understanding these terms is helpful, but what’s really important is how they’re used together to enable a company to achieve its speed, accuracy, efficiency, productivity, and profitability goals. That’s the “secret sauce” that a company like Buddha Logic brings to the table. We’re not only fluent in the language of automation, but we’ve also got extensive expertise and in-the-trenches experience in developing automation solutions that help companies operate more effectively and gain a competitive advantage in their industry.

About the Author

Executive Vice President at Buddha Logic, Larry Matthews has more than 20 years of executive management experience and is responsible for the company’s operations and customer facing functions, including business development, sales enablement, professional services, finance and corporate administration. His work with other successful technology companies has honed his skill for improving operational performance while maintaining a positive bottom-line result at Buddha Logic. Find and connect with Larry on LinkedIn.