What’s the difference between Workflow, BPM and Process Automation?

As technology continues to evolve, consolidate and adapt to new business requirements, we have the need to develop or redefine the terms we use describe our solutions. iDatix has always had a mission to “Simplify the Workplace” from a user point of view. Our issue has been how do we define that in the terms of our solution and software industry.

There is no clear definition for the solutions we offer. So we have chosen the term “Process Automation” or “Business Process Automation” to label us and our platform software technology. As soon as we did this, it begged the question:

What is Process Automation and what is the difference between Workflow, BPM and Process Automation?

iDatix started with a vision to provide a completely integrated platform to maximize an organizations most expensive resource, their people.

Our focus is the point in time a user needs to review, act-on or decision information and driving the business processes and interactions for doing that.

Workflow is typically an extension of document management that provides simple routing of documents to the people who needed them. It has a very limited rules capability and is often just a fancy email interface or set of inboxes.

BPM is a set of tools that let mostly developer types create systems to manage the flow of “information” DATA across the many back-end systems that companies use to manage their businesses. It allows for complex DATA driven rules to govern how to move and when to move the data through the systems of the company.

BPM systems have evolved to include eforms (web based forms) to collect and display some data to end users, but most often they are for back-end operations and owned by the IT department.

These systems often ignore the need to manage “unstructured” content that is traditionally handled by document management and ECM systems. Unstructured content consists of everything outside of your data sets – all the images, documents, videos, PDFs, PowerPoints, etc.. – all the information your company depends on day to day.

Often companies will want or need to integrate the two to get a complete solution and that is when most of the implementations fall apart, fail and became too expensive to implement and too difficult to make work.

“Process Automation” or “Business Process Automation” as we are defining it, is automating business processes to make information actionable via an elegant user interface designed with simple tools without development.

It allows users to define complex business processes with simple to use tools that focus on the user interaction, knowledge workers and the information they need to get their jobs done. It is really the integration of BPM, ECM, eforms and BI/Analytics into a seamless platform that can be applied to creating user productivity and improving processes across the enterprise.

Its focus on user productivity and the platform’s ease of use and change facilitation is what empowers the adopting organization. It shortens the deployment time, reduces implementation costs, enables ownership and minimizes ongoing management and expense.

Process automation products and platforms are evolving into “Smart Applications”. Smart Applications are all of the tools above put into a predefined package for a specific business application. This allows the enterprise to implement a known solution with minimal effort with greater success to achieve process improvement, enterprise wide.

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