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Business process automation vs. robotic process automation

BPA and RPA pros and cons

Implementing process automation technology is no longer just an “ideal state” or the latest operations trend. It can make the difference in the market and unpredictable times.

But choosing an automation provider can be dizzying. Should you go with business process automation vs. robotic process automation? Or, should you combine them?

Let’s start with the pros and cons of each type of automation software.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

What is Robotic Process Automation? 

Robotic Process Automation is a software for building “bots” that automate and optimize certain repetitive tasks of a business process. RPA automates on an interface level by completing clicks and copy/paste functions that a human otherwise would on a screen. 

RPA has traditionally been an on-premise software, however cloud-based offerings are emerging. Some RPA platforms have also been rebranded as Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), which incorporate some AI features on top of task automation.

What are the pros and cons of Robotic Process Automation? 

The advantages and disadvantages of RPA remain relatively the same:


  • Very effective for specific task automation
  • Good for working with on-premise and legacy software with no API options
  • Can be implemented on top of existing systems
  • Completes high-volumes of tasks for large time savings


  • Can’t handle too much variation or handle data dynamically
  • Developer or consultant-led implementation is usually required
  • Hard to scale or make changes to bots once they’re build
  • Usually requires resources for maintenance and upkeep


Business Process Automation (BPA)

What is Business Process Automation?

Business Process Automation is an approach to automating and optimizing a process from start to finish, meaning combining multiple tasks, stages, systems, people, departments and data. This is usually thought of as a larger-scale approach to automating and optimizing operations. BPA typically automates things at the data-level on the back end, rather than on the surface level.

It can also typically require process discovery or mining software for an in-depth analysis of existing business processes and problems in order to come up with the best way to implement BPA technology.

What are the pros and cons of Business Process Automation?


  • Holistic process improvement, rather than simple task automation
  • Can handle more dynamic automations and data processing
  • Customized solutions for impact across the organization
  • More efficient processes


  • Built from the ground-up and an require process reengineering or rip-and-replace 
  • Long developer or consultant-led implementation
  • Inflexible to change
  • Usually requires resources for maintenance and upkeep

Which automation technology should I use?

Both RPA and BPM software have existed for a while now. They can be combined for powerful results, but they also both have some common denominators: slow implementations and heavy maintenance.

More modern platforms have moved to the term Digital Process Automation (DPA) or workflow automation which are usually cloud-based and can require little or no code to start creating processes. These smart workflows can be as robust as BPA, but easier to implement and more agile to change.

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. Choosing an automation provider is no exception. And many times, it can make sense to combine a variety of platforms to achieve hyperautomation—the combination of multiple machine learning, packaged software and automation tools to deliver work—which is becoming a top strategy.



This is just one of seven common myths affecting automation progress today. Explore the origins of these misconceptions and learn the realities of a new era of no-code workflow automation.

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Written by Catalytic