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August 26, 2021
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Understanding Process Automation

Acronyms can be useful to say a lot with just a little. This is particularly true for “BPM”, which can mean three different things at once:

  • Managing by processes: implementing a process-based management system to steer the company to sustainable performance.
  • Company reference mapping: modeling processes, information systems, organizations, management rules, etc.
  • Execution and process management: implementing ERP and BPMS tools with workflow engines, such as Bonita BPM, that allow you to develop, execute and manage processes.


BPM has become a very popular acronym, one that suggests opportunity and is easily recognizable, so professionals in the sector (software companies, service providers) seem to want to make it mean what suits them. This suggests that the different BPM realities are also reflected in a power struggle:

  • Some players who wish to stand out for their process management are careful to distance themselves from the players involved in process modeling and execution. In doing so, they are often criticized for working on a solely conceptual level that doesn’t always translate to improvements in operations.
  • Some players involved in process execution try to reassure their clients in order to strengthen their sales position, but by doing so they increase confusion about business process management itself and the BPM tools that support it.


The goal of this white paper is to reconcile these two approaches and show that BPM and the process of implementing BPMS platforms are closely linked, and that each one supports and reinforces the other. We illustrate this through the following points:

1. Process automation is inextricably linked to process reconfiguration. It’s possible to rapidly put in place plans for improvement, which support both Business Process Management techniques (process mapping and re-mapping) and their implementation (process automation).

2. BPMS tools make information systems more agile in general, particularly enterprise resource planning (ERP). Business process management justifies return-on-investment (ROI).

3. BPMS tools strengthen the business’s capability to manage and measure processes, which is at the heart of BPM implementation.

4. The emergence of a common modeling and execution language, BPMN, makes BPM more intelligible for business users who are responsible for processes, and for the information technologists that implement them. This makes it possible to imagine and develop technical solutions to support innovative BPM.

5. Following the lead of BPM that places the individuals who are involved in a process at the heart of performance improvement, the applications created around workflow engines place the individual at the heart of the process execution.

6. BPM relies more and more on the concept of extended systems in order to offer innovative, high-performance processes. BPMS tools allow you to put these concepts into practice, supporting processes from beginning to end using a variety of different information systems.


This paper is intended for:

  • Managers in charge of business processes (in finance, quality, HR, and other departments) who want to put cost-saving plans in place quickly and easily, applying standardization, automation and intra-and-inter-departmental integration.
  • Managers in charge of information systems who wish to place BPM tools (formalization, automation, simulation and process management) at the heart of operating performance improvement processes for their company or organization.


This white paper discusses the key elements necessary to:

  • Prove that BPM and implementation of process automation projects naturally work well together;
  • Identify reasons why the current technological context is favorable for implementing process optimization projects supported by BPM platforms (service-oriented architecture, extending traditional company boundaries, BPMN, and so on); and
  • Position process automation projects at just the right level in order to roll them out more effectively. We offer examples from projects where Bonita BPM has been implemented to illustrate some of these points.