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Is robotic process automation another name for workflow management software?


Robotic process automation (RPA) and workflow management software applications are different – but complementary – solutions. Both applications are intended to help organizations streamline processes and optimize resources, including the use of automation. While there are some similarities, the differences are significant. Here is a brief comparison of the two technologies:

  • RPA solutions are intended primarily for business analyst use, although creation of some complex automations may require IT involvement up front; workflow applications are generally designed for use by IT professionals.
  • RPA solutions automate a process at a task or interaction level, often accounting for only a small portion of a larger workflow; workflow management software maps, monitors and controls the entire workflow, including the routing of work between front- and back-office operations, multiple downstream systems and users.
  • Attended RPA works in collaboration with employees on their desktops to automate routine activities and provide real-time process guidance, including delivery of context-based content from a knowledge base, website, or other data source; workflow management software does not work “side-by-side” with employees.
  • Sophisticated RPA solutions are increasingly utilizing artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled capabilities, such as computer vision to “read” data from other systems without the need for integration; workflow management software generally requires an interface to facilitate system-to-system data sharing.