Business process automation (BPA) is a strategy wherein businesses use technology to organize their personnel and systems through workflows. Processes are the sets of activities that move your business toward a goal. Forrester predicts that automation can cut operating costs up to 90 percent with BPA.

BPA goes beyond traditional data management and records to advanced software systems and programs that integrate all your applications. Automation can permit your company to maintain control over various issues, such as customer relationships, analytics, planning, sales, standardization, and development. Automation can target not only complicated information technology tasks, such as managing your system users and troubleshooting network issues, but also programs like email marketing services.

BPA supports your knowledge workers and helps minimize operational costs, freeing up personnel to perform higher-level tasks. Clients are happier because you can assist them immediately and cut down on human error. In organizations where relationships are king, BPA can significantly enhance human interaction and decision-making, as well as create real-time transparency.

BPA is sometimes referred to as information technology process automation (ITPA). Implementing BPA can be a major event; because many business IT environments are virtual or cloud-based, their complexity can be challenging. Furthermore, in business process management (BPM), the automation element can take a backseat to defining the processes themselves. BPA concentrates on first automating the processes, then analyzing and optimizing them. BPA practitioners know that business needs change rapidly and there’s often no time for substantial business process modeling and mapping projects prior to software selection.

BPA is often confused with other terms such as industrial automation, robotic process automation, smart factories, infrastructure management, and enterprise risk management. Industrial automation (IA) uses control systems such as computers to automatically run industrial processes. Primarily found in manufacturing, it replaces the human element and improves the production rate through consistently managed processes. Whereas BPA automates processes and workflows, IA strictly automates the physical human labor in processes and workflows.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is an emerging field that specifically automates artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics. Although the technology is getting savvier, RPA mimics high-volume, repeatable human tasks, leaving more abstract duties such as relationship building to the humans. RPA complements BPA, after it streamlines your processes.