business process automation (BPA) definition

Contributor(s): Christina Torode

Business process automation (BPA) is the technology-enabled automation of activities or services that accomplish a specific function or workflow. Business processes can be determined for many different segments of company activities, including sales, management, operations, supply chain, human resources and information technology.

 A business process is often started by a trigger, such as the filing of an expense report, which initiates a set of predefined workflow steps, or processes, that conclude with the employee receiving reimbursement. The goal of BPA is to not only automate business processes, but to simplify and improve business workflows as well. BPA can be a standalone initiative or part of a larger, overarching business process management (BPM) strategy.

Within BPM, automated business processes are managed collectively to improve an organization’s overall workflow in terms of achieving greater efficiency, adapting to changing business needs, reducing human error and clarifying job roles and responsibilities. BPM is itself a subset of infrastructure management, which maintains and optimizes an organization's core operational components such as processes, equipment and data.

This was first published in September 2011

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