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Business process automation (BPA), is the strategy a business uses to automate processes in order to contain costs. It consists of integrating applications, restructuring labor resources and using software applications throughout the organization. There are three main techniques for delivering automation of a business process that may require adoption of complex methods or simple over the top solutions.
Extension of existing IT systems
As most IT systems are inherently automation engines in themselves, a valid option is to extend their functionality to enable the desired automation, creating customized linkages between the disparate application systems where needed. This approach means that the automation can be tailored specifically to the exact environment of the organization; on the down-side, it can be time-consuming to find the necessary skills either internally or in the marketplace.
The boundaries of the concept end with the boundaries of the vision. If vision does not have boundaries the concept does not have boundaries.
Purchase of a specialist BPA tool
Specialist companies are now bringing toolsets to market which are purpose-built for the function of BPA. These companies tend to focus on different industry sectors but their underlying approach tends to be similar in that they will attempt to provide the shortest route to automation by exploiting the user interface layer rather than going deeply into the application code or databases sitting behind them. They also simplify their own interface to the extent that these tools can be used directly by non-technically qualified staff. The main advantage of these tool sets is therefore their speed of deployment, the drawback is that it brings yet another IT supplier to the organization.
Business Process Management solution with BPA extensions
The next section explains that a Business Process Management system is quite different from BPA. However, it is possible to build automation on the back of a BPM implementation. The actual tools to achieve this vary, from writing custom application code to using specialist BPA tools, as described above. The advantages and disadvantages of this approach are inextricably linked – the BPM implementation provides an architecture for all processes in the business to be mapped, but this in itself delays the automation of individual processes and so benefits may be lost in the meantime.
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