BPA Versus BPM: What’s the Big Difference?

Business process automation (BPA) and business process management (BPM) sound an awful lot alike. While the two are related, and in many ways complementary, they’re not the same. BPA is about automating processes, while BPM is about managing processes, which may or may not involve automation. In other words, you can consider all BPA to be a form of BPM, but not all BPM may include BPA.

BPA versus BPM

Process automation and management are related, but not identical.

Both these concepts are important to the business world, and they apply in industries as diverse as food services, precision machining, and healthcare. The goal of both BPA and BPM is to make work more efficient, cut out unnecessary steps, and streamline workflows for greater productivity, better morale, and happier customers.

What Is BPA Software?

BPA software enables activities or services to be automated. A simple example of BPA would be software that takes a converts a paper form into an electronic form that is automatically submitted to the proper recipient upon completion. BPA software may be used in just about any department, including HR, supply chain, and IT. Form creating software is widely available, but that doesn’t mean that one software package is as good as another.

Business processes that are amenable to automation are typically those that are started by a specific, triggering event. For example, the filing of an expense report may trigger a pre-defined succession of steps that ends when the employee receives a reimbursement check (or electronic funds transferred to his or her account). Sometimes BPA software is aimed at a single initiative (like expense reporting), but it may be part of a larger BPM strategy.

What Is BPM Software?

BPM software is more comprehensive than BPA software, because it is designed to manage multiple workflows within an organization. Rather than focusing on automating a single process, BPM workflow software allows businesses to achieve greater overall efficiency and evolve along with changing business needs. Another result of a successful BPM software implementation is reduction in human error (because, for instance, less manual data entry is typically involved) and clearer understanding of roles and responsibilities.

BPM is a systematic approach to improving processes. When it is successfully implemented, everyone understands better how they contribute to the achievement of business goals. This generally leads to a happier, more productive workforce, which tends to result in happier customers, higher revenues, and lower costs.

BPA versus BPM

Greater staff efficiency improves morale, which leads to happier customers.

Workflow Automation Software and Business Processes

Workflow automation software with built-in flexibility, usability, and power can help an organization embark on business process automation or full-scale business process management. Many companies begin by automating a single process as a pilot project. For example, a company that is used to submitting IT help requests via phone or sticky note may develop an electronic online form that employees can use at their workstation or from their mobile device to request IT services. Once any unexpected wrinkles are ironed out and the new process proves its utility, the company may expand and automate other processes, such as new employee onboarding, travel expense reporting, or building maintenance requests.

Not Just Any Form Software Can Do the Job

Form creating software is widely available, but that doesn’t mean that one software package is as good as another. Don’t settle for form software that has a clunky or difficult user interface, or that locks you into pre-existing templates that aren’t right for your needs. Rather, you should choose form software with an intuitive user interface that doesn’t require users to know how to program in order to create useful, aesthetically pleasing electronic survey forms and sleek, automated workflows.

Many companies prefer cloud-hosted software so that they don’t have to worry over on-site servers and their maintenance. Does your form software offer a cloud-hosted option? Technical and customer service after the sale are also critically important, so be sure to read case studies or contact companies that have used a product before you commit to it. If the form software provider offers a free trial, check that out too. This way you can make an informed decision that can make a measurable difference in your organization’s workflows and efficiency.

PerfectForms’ form software offers tremendous power through an intuitive interface that allows users to easily drag and drop form or workflow elements into place on a virtual canvas. You can start with a range of included, fully customizable templates or begin from scratch if you want. Organizations that automate one form or workflow with PerfectForms soon find countless other applications for it. Why not sign up for a free trial and discover for yourself how powerful and easy-to-use PerfectForms software is?

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