RPA vs. Workflow Automation: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to deciding between robotic process automation (RPA) vs. workflow automation, it’s best to start with a clear understanding of what these tools have to offer – and how they differ from one another.

In working with our enterprise clients, we’ve found that most organizations benefit from RPA and workflow automation tools since both work together to streamline business processes for improved efficiency. However, every business is different, and if you’re not ready to invest in workflow automation and RPA, you’ll need to do some research to determine where to put your initial focus.

Fortunately, we’re here to help with a quick guide to the difference between RPA and workflow automation and the benefits both offer in enhancing productivity and eliminating task completion redundancies. Let’s get to it.

The Basics of RPA and Workflow Automation Tools

You’ve probably heard that automation can improve business processes across a wide range of industries. But if you’re new to the technology, you might be unfamiliar with the precise ways different tools function and why one might be better than the other in certain use cases.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic process automation, or RPA, puts robots to work on the rote tasks that keep your employees from focusing on more big-picture, high-value activities. It’s ideal for automating specific recurring tasks, such as filling the forms and uses a predefined set of rules to ensure that each task is completed to your own operational standards.

The benefits of RPA mirror the benefits of automation in general, especially in the potential of RPA systems to reduce manual errors, boost productivity, and free up employees from repetitive and monotonous tasks that can be completed by robots. This has a huge cost-efficiency benefit for businesses and could mean relying less on third-party IT teams and more on in-house resolutions.

What is Workflow Automation?

Workflow automation is automation with a bigger-picture approach. Rather than honing in on specific tasks, workflow automation tools are geared toward entire processes – think start-to-finish project pipelines and big internal to-dos like invoice and document processing, employee onboarding, and customer service.

A well-established workflow management system is designed around your needs and in particular, the process flows you need to achieve in order to grow your business. Integration is key to how workflow automation tools function, so these systems are generally merged with CRMs, email marketing tools, and other applications for peak productivity.

How does this play out in day-to-day operations? Well, in industries where workflow automation tools are used heavily to improve operational efficiency, workflow management systems help create and onboard new customer accounts, as well as automate bank statements and accounts payable. Workflow automation can also be used for things like general accounting – a benefit that crosses boundaries between industries and helps ensure compliance with regulatory standards. Ultimately, there are numerous ways to employ workflow automation, and it's not limited to a particular field or department.

Difference Between RPA and Workflow Automation

Many of today’s business leaders find themselves facing the RPA vs. workflow automation consideration. To settle it, it helps to consider both the difference between RPA and workflow automation and how these tools collaborate.

The main differences to be aware of are:

  • RPA is task-focused, while workflow automation is focused on automating entire business processes.
  • RPA is best for handing off rote and repetitive tasks that slow down your workforce and take up valuable time.
  • Workflow automation is best for automating end-to-end processes for a higher level of control and critical efficiency improvements.

Ultimately, workflow automation streamlines the flow of project pipelines on a scale that’s more all-inclusive than general task management. RPA, on the other hand, is focused on the trees, not the forest, automating specific activities that would otherwise require time-consuming manual input.

When used together, RPA and workflow automation can supplement the other system’s benefits and enhance them. That means even more cost reductions, speed boosts, and happy customers, which is a win in our book.

Is RPA Better Than Workflow Automation?

Efficiency is the name of the game with both RPA and workflow automation. So rather than say one is better than the other, it’s probably more helpful to say they are tools best used in conjunction. The built-in features of RPA and workflow automation can work together in big ways to wholly transform your operational productivity.

WEBCON is Automation Made Easy

Do businesses need workflow automation and RPA? That depends on their long-term goals and the complexity of their business processes, though it’s safe to say that some form of automation is a must in order to compete in the modern market. That’s where we come in.

The WEBCON low-code automation platform features everything you need to improve efficiency and communication at your business, with seamlessly integrated automation tools that boost productivity where it matters and take your employees’ attention away from where it doesn’t. Get started today with a free trial or 30-day demo.

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WEBCON is the leading European-based provider of a complete Low-code Application Platform for mass delivering business solutions. Companies choose WEBCON to dramatically reduce time and cost of app development. The platform allows them to automate and manage business processes across the entire organization – using a single, unified platform. Thanks to its unique InstantChange™ technology, WEBCON embraces change like no other platform on the market.


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