The amount of information we have to deal with day-by-day is large enough not to be able to handle it without specialized software tools. Ordinary events we face daily, from doctor’s appointments to upcoming Zoom meetings, are compiled into a system with too many variables to track and manage efficiently. Therefore, at least, the use of a simple task management app is a must nowadays.
In business, the stakes are much higher. The volumes of data that constant collaboration with clients generates are too big to efficiently process them manually. As a result, without adopting a software system that makes business process management more efficient through automation, you risk facing decreased customer satisfaction and loss of competitive advantage in the market. Today, we’ll consider three different approaches that can open up new horizons of automation for your company and try to understand which one of them can better suit you.
The Main Differences Between BPA, RPA, and IPA
Business Process Automation or BPA is probably the most straightforward way of optimizing your workflow. The core idea behind BPA is to turn a disparate set of applications, such as ERP, CRM or project management software solutions, into a single system working like clockwork. This goal can be achieved by integrating a BPA app into the existing company’s infrastructure in order to automate the processing of flow of information across the apps that are already in use.
Let’s assume that your company lacks bright and skillful employees. You might want to fill this gap and hire somebody that suits your current needs and expectations. This task falls on the shoulders of your HR department staff. Without a process automation solution up and running, there are tons of potential bottlenecks. Let’s suppose that the HR specialist will have to search for suitable candidates, review their CVs, schedule and conduct interviews, fill documents, and send them to another department. This process comprises dozens of subtasks, each requiring constant monitoring. Subsequent onboarding will require a considerable amount of additional manual paperwork.
As an alternative, your company can rely on a process automation solution. The BPA app can receive candidates’ CVs online, process them automatically, and send results to all employees responsible for the recruitment process. During the entire process, the automated notification mechanism can help to ensure that all involved parties are aware of the current state of affairs. Besides decreasing the probability of duplicated and obsolete data appearance, such process automation can help you complete in a few hours what used to take a day.
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RPA or Robotic Process Automation is a step forward in terms of technology. As the name suggests, in this case, we deal with a process automation approach that, to some extent, simulates human behavior. Indeed, the main purpose of adopting an RPA solution is to make it perform repetitive tasks instead of your employees. But not let the word “robotic” fool you. RPA systems, despite the levels of automation they provide, can’t fully replace humans in the workplace.
First of all, RPA works primarily with structured data, so there must be someone who ensures that such a software won’t be involved in processes it wasn’t initially designed for. Countless emails received from the customer support department can be a good example of where RPAs can help. For example, customers dissatisfied with your services can fill an online form. The automation approach, in this scenario, implies that the software system can automatically process such records and save them into a database.
However, RPAs can’t efficiently analyze the info they work with and make their own decisions regarding it. Despite that RPA adoption may seem like an approach that requires reconsidering the habitual way of doing things, usually it doesn’t require re-engineering your infrastructure.
IPA or Intelligent Process Automation is the approach that requires the use of the most breakthrough technologies. Modern IPA software uses such techs as AI, machine learning, and even natural language processing. Unlike RPA solutions, such apps don’t require the data to be structured specifically. Using mentioned technologies allows process automation software to work with almost any source of information, from hand-written text to audio records.
Thanks to machine learning algorithms, in comparison with RPA, this process automation solution can solve even a broader range of tasks that previously required human intervention. IPAs can not only process the info they receive and put it into a database, but also recognize valuable patterns or solve specific problems, for example. If you’re not too demanding of your process automation system, you can even design and build an IPA solution using low-code or no-code platforms. However, it’s important to note that these platforms have their limitations.
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How to Choose the Right Option For Your Business
At first glance, everything may seem quite simple. Process automation technologies “evolve” through three successive stages, each more advanced than the previous one: BPA, RPA, and IPA. It may look like there’s no point even wasting your time on something that is not an IPA. Such a train of thought has its rational grain. BPA can handle the automation of some tasks, RPA can take care of entire business processes, and IPA takes the best of both of these worlds and adds a pinch of AI to make everything better. The thing is that business has to weigh the benefits it gets for a specific price. There’s always the chance that AI simply has no scope for your business. Here, IPA will become a useless investment. Because of this reason, it may be useful to consider the cases where BPA, RPA, and IPA can be most helpful.
BPA solutions are pretty simple compared to other options and, in this case, simplicity can be considered as an advantage. Such process automation tools are easy to implement and adopt, especially with SaaS solutions. Moreover, the outcomes of their work are predictable, so you know exactly what you get for your money. You can consider BPA adoption if you constantly face the need to perform the same manual tasks, such as data input, repeatedly. If employees process everything manually, there’s always the probability that your database will accumulate inconsistent, obsolete, or duplicated information. BPA can help to deal with this issue as well. Extended visibility and real-time reporting are other features that business process automation systems can enable to make sure that all parties are on the same page at any point in time.
RPAs offer more, but they also require more. It’ll take more effort to integrate such an application into your IT infrastructure and train bots how they must process the data you give them. Such systems work better with structured data, so they’ll better fit companies that work with organized records or have resources to prepare raw data before the RPA system will enter the stage. In return, you’ll be freed from the necessity of performing multiple copy-paste operations and generating regular reports manually.
IPA erases the requirements for the input data format. First, you can effortlessly work with unstructured data. Also, if the business processes your company relies on imply, for example, constant monitoring of social media, this process automation technology can become a huge helper. IPAs give you more than some tools helping to automate specific routine tasks. Set of features that such systems provide allows using them as the basis for developing solid marketing strategies.
Business process optimization and automation is a race in which there are no stops for a breather. Technologies are constantly developing, which provides your competitors with more and more advantages. Luckily, nothing keeps you from adopting, say, artificial intelligence in order to make your company more efficient. Nowadays, there’s no shortage of custom software development companies ready to provide you with a process automation system that will fit you like a glove. If you’re looking for a reliable partner with extensive expertise, please contact us.