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What is digital process automation?

With so much tech jargon doing the rounds today, it’s easy to confuse one enterprise software approach with another. We have written this article for people who want more clarity on what Digital Process Automation (DPA) is – and what it isn’t.

DPA is a type of software platform that takes a process-centric approach to digital transformation. This technology enables organizations to gain optimum value from their existing systems and people; while helping them to modernize their processes and prepare for the future.

What is DPA?

DPA is a new wave of business process management (BPM) technology. With an enterprise-grade DPA platform, organizations have the tools to develop and deploy new, customized applications to streamline and manage virtually any business process from end-to-end. These applications can be as simple or complex as needed; and they can leverage a range of existing resources, including systems, data, content, and human expertise.

Many companies struggle to optimize their processes because they have multiple line-of-business systems and data management tools in place that are not communicating with each other. One of the key benefits of using a DPA platform is this technology’s ability to bridge the gaps that exist between the various legacy systems, data repositories, and third-party solutions in use across the enterprise.

DPA solutions act as workflow engines – orchestrating the flow of tasks and data between employees, enterprise systems, and new technologies such as software robots or AI-enabled tools, enabling end-to-end process optimization.

Organizations can use DPA to:

Fix outdated processes

Refine, digitize, and standardize business processes before automation is introduced. This helps to optimize costs, increase efficiency, and minimize risk through the reduction of manual work, as well as ensuring that every process step complies with the relevant company policies and regulations.

Automate workflows

Develop automated workflows that orchestrate process sequences from end-to-end according to powerful business rules. These can include reminders, escalations, parallel approvals, sub-processes, and so forth.

Go paperless

Tailor-build feature-rich forms to replace paper documents and manually updated spreadsheets. These forms work across any device and can create a modern user-interface for process applications. They can also be connected to workflows and used to capture data or manage information from multiple line-of-business systems, without the need to leave the form interface.

Connect systems

Both developers and business users can swiftly connect their applications to a range of existing enterprise systems and industry-leading solutions from third-party vendors. Integration is either made possible through no-code connectors or, for more complex integration projects, developers can use APIs and SDKs. This allows businesses to build process applications that leverage a range of IT assets, from legacy systems to innovation accelerator tools.

Empower people

Employees benefit from easy-to-use applications that help them to be more efficient, productive, and collaborative – both inside and outside the office. DPA applications work on any device, even when there is no internet. With everything digitized, employees spend less time on paperwork and manual tasks; and more time focusing on aspects of their roles that capitalize on their unique skills and talents.

Meet compliance obligations

DPA increases process accuracy and supports regulatory compliance by eliminating situations where process steps might be missed. Every action is automatically logged, providing metadata that can prove compliance in an internal or external audit scenario.

Drive continuous improvement

DPA application usage reports help managers to identify bottlenecks, track team performance, and even monitor specific decisions made as part of each process. Third-party tools like Power BI and Tableau or cognitive services and machine learning solutions can be integrated to create more sophisticated reports and analytics. This intelligence enables companies to measure how the business is running and identify new areas for innovation.

Ensure governance and control

An enterprise-grade DPA platform provides the ability for IT to support the business through governance and control. Solution and integration management are centralized; while role-based access controls can be used to secure intellectual property and confidential data.

The benefits of opting for an enterprise low-code development platform

Some platforms offer a low-code user experience, where application development cycles are substantially reduced to increase business agility. This modern development environment caters for both software engineers and everyday business users – by providing visual drag-and-drop tooling for designing applications, workflows, and forms with minimal coding.

Additional features such as smart data connectors, real-time workflow validation, automatic streamlining of applications and the ability to re-use components for new solutions further accelerate development.

What DPA is not?

While DPA clearly offers a broad range of benefits, there are some needs that other technology approaches are better suited for. Due to DPA’s integration and process orchestration capabilities, however, it combines well with other tools – such as robotic process automation and artificial intelligence – to extend an organization’s automation and innovation competencies.

DPA is not software robotics

DPA is not the same as robotic process automation (RPA), which provides software robots to automate routine, rule-based tasks that humans would otherwise have to perform. Nevertheless, RPA and DPA are highly compatible and often used in tandem. DPA can, for example, be used to build process management solutions that route tasks and data between RPA bots, other systems, and humans, depending on the capabilities required.

DPA is not artificial intelligence

While DPA applications can be augmented with AI capabilities, these are integrated into the DPA platform from third-party solutions. Unlike machine learning (one category of AI), for example, DPA software on its own is unable to reach conclusions without being configured to do so; or learn from data and past actions. As is the case with RPA, DPA, and AI also work well together – and DPA is often used to integrate AI capabilities into the process automation environment.

DPA is not always able to integrate with legacy systems

While DPA integrates with a wide range of technologies, it does not always have connectivity with older legacy systems that do not have application programming interfaces (APIs). In these cases, RPA is best applied – because this type of technology interacts with systems at the presentation layer (i.e. the human user interface).

While it’s essential to know DPA’s limits, it’s also important to understand that DPA has the capabilities to act as a cornerstone of digital transformation. As an enterprise technology, it powers the optimization of any type of process, regardless of whether this process can be fully automated or whether it requires human intervention to handle escalations, approvals, and other high-value tasks. This high level of agility and scalability makes DPA truly unique.



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