RPA vs. Business Process Automation: Which One Should You Use

by Burak Koçak
3 weeks ago
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If you are looking for ways to automate your business processes, you might have come across two terms: RPA and BPA. What are they, and how are they different? In this blog post, we will explain what RPA and BPA are, their benefits and limitations, and when to use each of them, or maybe together.

Definition of RPA


RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation. It is a technology that uses software robots, or bots, to automate repetitive, rule-based tasks that do not require complex decision-making. RPA bots can mimic human actions like clicking, typing, copying, pasting, and scraping data from various applications and systems.

Definition of BPA

Business Process Automation

Business Process Automation (BPA) is the use of software to automate repeatable, multistep business transactions. BPA solutions are usually complex, connected to multiple enterprise information technology (IT) systems, and tailored specifically to the needs of an organization. BPA can help streamline workflows, operate more efficiently, and free time and resources for core work.

Difference Between RPA and BPA

RPA and BPA are both automation technologies that aim to reduce human involvement in repetitive tasks but they have different scopes and capabilities. RPA can automate individual, discrete tasks, such as reading a document, entering data, or copying information between systems. On the other hand, BPA can orchestrate workflows across different tasks and departments and often uses advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence or machine learning to enable decision-making and optimization.

One way to understand the difference between RPA and BPA is to think of RPA as the actors on a movie set, and BPA as the director who coordinates them. RPA can perform specific actions according to predefined rules, but BPA can oversee the whole process and ensure the desired outcomes are achieved. RPA is usually easier to implement and less costly than BPA, but BPA can deliver more value and efficiency by transforming the entire business process.

The Limitations of RPA

RPA is not a silver bullet for automation. It has some limitations that you need to be aware of. There are some examples of the limitations of RPA below:

  • RPA bots are sensitive to changes in the user interface of the applications they interact with. The bots may break or malfunction if there is any change in the application layout, design, or functionality.

Even though we wrote this as a limitation, it can also be a preferable option depending on the situation, as RPA has a no-low code, easy-to-use option.

Check this video to see why VooDoo RPA Customers choose to implement RPA. İlker Baştürk, Application Architect of ATP, and his team use RPA with third-party websites because their time is too valuable to create a new code or “edit” their existing systems. Instead, they upload screenshots of a new interface of the 3rd party website, and the RPA bot takes care of the rest as usual.

  • RPA bots cannot handle exceptions or complex scenarios that require human judgment or intervention. If there is any deviation from the predefined rules or steps, the bots may fail or produce incorrect results.

That is why companies are starting to use IRPA, Intelligent RPA, which combines RPA with other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Computer Vision (CV).

Intelligent RPA can help you automate tasks that involve unstructured data, such as images, documents, emails, and voice. It can also help you handle exceptions and complex scenarios requiring some reasoning or understanding.

  • RPA bots cannot optimize or improve the underlying business processes. They only follow the existing rules and steps as they are. If the processes are inefficient or flawed when its done manually, RPA will only automate them as they are and make it inefficient and flawed but faster.

This is why it is important to plan ahead or hire a RPA Business Analyst to do this planning for you.

The Limitations of BPA

Due to its nature of automating the business systemically, instead of automating task by task like RPA, BPA also has some limitations that you need to consider. For example:

  • BPA can be costly and complex to set up and maintain. Depending on the type and scale of the processes to be automated, BPA may require significant investment in software, hardware, integration, customization, training, and support. BPA also needs to be regularly updated and monitored to ensure its functionality and security.

  • For the same reasons, BPA is a slow burner. It requires some time to see its benefits. Employees might resist change if they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, RPA produces instant results by automating a given task, and having quick wins may increase the acceptance rate of the new technology.

  • BPA requires high collaboration and coordination among stakeholders, such as process owners, managers, analysts, developers, and users. This can be challenging in some organizations that have siloed structures or cultures.

When to Use RPA or BPA

RPA and BPA are not mutually exclusive. They can be used together for better results than using either alone. Here are some guidelines on when to use RPA or BPA:

When to use RPA and BPA depend on the nature and scope of the business processes that need to be automated. RPA is suitable for simple, structured, and predictable tasks, such as data entry, invoice processing, or email sending. BPA is suitable for complex, dynamic, and collaborative tasks, such as customer service, order management, or project management.

RPA and BPA can also be used together to create a hybrid automation solution that leverages both technologies’ strengths. For example, RPA can handle low-level and routine tasks within a workflow, while BPA can orchestrate high-level and strategic tasks across multiple systems and departments. This way, businesses can achieve a higher level of automation and optimization for their processes.