BPM Analytics

Understanding the difference between BPM and workflow

Business Process Management (BPM) solutions and workflow management applications have become staples for modern businesses, helping them enhance and optimise their day-to-day processes. So, it is very easy to get confused between the two. However, the core concepts of BPM and workflow are fundamentally different, leading to different applications in the business context.

So, what exactly is the difference between BPM and workflow? To understand that, let us start by exploring the core concepts of workflow management and BPM.

What is workflow management?

The concept of workflow management focuses on pairing up and coordinating a set of unique tasks that work together to achieve a unified goal. The goal here is to streamline the different tasks to improve efficiency and boost quality while eliminating any communication gaps or discrepancies that can result in sub-par performance.

However, the workflow management applications do not focus on the "big picture" but instead on a small specific task to ensure timely and efficient completion. For example, consider a workflow management application within a bakery. Rather than focusing on the bakery as a whole, workflow management will focus on a single process – baking bread, for example. Here, the workflow will focus only on the ingredients and processes involved in turning the raw materials into the finished product that the bakery will package and sell. Every item in the bakery will have a unique workflow; however, it will not account for the overall management of the bakery.

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?

Business process management (BPM) solutions, on the other hand, focus on improving the overall business efficiency. They focus on managing and coordinating different workflows, available workforce, budgets, automation tools, and analytics to get a better understanding of the overall business. BPM solutions are a must for every contemporary business as they offer insights into everything you do, helping create agile processes, eliminating inefficiencies in different workflows, and supporting the overall growth of the business.

Continuing with the example of a bakery, BPM solutions focus on the day-to-day operations of the bakery. They ensure all the raw materials are available for every product, the display cases are set to attract more customers, customers and suppliers receive their orders on time, and the employees are engaged and happy. Every single facet of bakery management – even individual workflow management applications – falls under BPM.

Differences between BPM and workflow

Similarities like their utility in streamlining work and their implications for improving efficiency make it difficult to differentiate between BPM and workflow solutions. But there are key differences – especially in terms of scope and reporting capabilities – that set the two apart. Workflow management is a category of BPM solutions but not vice versa.

Here are the differences between BPM solutions and workflow management applications:

  • Where workflows pertain to a single task, BPM focuses on the business as a whole. BPM has enhanced data collection, analytics, and reporting capabilities rather than focusing on individual goals.
  • Containing both manual and application-driven tasks, workflow management coordinates interactions between people and systems. On the other hand, BPM systems focus on coordinating and optimising interactions between all organisational resources.
  • The primary goal of a workflow is to complete a task within the shortest amount of time possible. Conversely, the main objective of BPM is an optimised and efficient operational ecosystem.
  • Where workflow management is often limited to the automation of a few steps of a particular process, BPM solutions tend to implement continuous improvements across all critical processes.
  • Setting up a workflow management application requires little time or investment. On the other hand, designing and implementing a BPM solution is a far more extensive and expensive process.
  • Integrating workflow solutions into existing systems is easy and does not require special onboarding, whereas BPM integration requires parallel installations and integrations, along with specialised training and IT support.

So, what should you choose between BPM and workflow? The answer depends on your organisation's needs, goals, and budget. If you are looking to automate and optimise a single process, a workflow management application will work for you. But if you want to focus on optimising a large set of processes or manage multiple workflows, reporting, and more, BPM solutions will be your best bet.

How can Infosys BPM help?

Infosys can help you leverage next-gen BPM solutions to reimagine your business processes, unlock business value with end-to-end transformation, and drive AI-first operations to navigate your next. No matter the industry or business process you want to optimise, Infosys BPM has the expertise and solutions to help you navigate your digital transformation with BPM and workflow solutions.

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