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Blog | Dec 14, 2023

BPM vs Workflow: Is There a Difference?

BPM vs Workflow
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We get it. It’s easy to confuse business process management (BPM) with workflow management. Both have similar goals to enhance and optimize processes within an organization. They both also involve automation and improve efficiency and processes. But as core concepts, they’re fundamentally different in their suitability and application in your business.

So, what exactly are the differences? Or when should you use BPM vs workflow automation? You’re in the right place. We’re diving into the specifics, backed with real-world examples. By the conclusion, you should have a solid grasp of everything BPM and workflow. Let’s get started.

What Is BPM and Workflow?

First, we’ll begin by clarifying our definitions:

Business process management (BPM) is both a discipline and a technology. As a discipline, BPM focuses on how we identify, study, optimize and monitor business processes to ensure they deliver the right outcomes and results over time. As a technology, BPM connects people, processes, digital workers, data and systems together through the use of intelligent automation (IA). Many organizations choose to use dedicated BPM systems to help transformation efforts, such as SS&C | Blue Prism® Chorus.

A workflow is a series of repeatable steps performed to complete a process, such as sending an email or filling in a form. Workflow automation (or workflow management) is the use of automation and rules-based logic to automate that specific end-to-end process. Typically, organizations would deploy workflow automation software to carry out their workflows.

With BPM you can optimize workflows, and in many cases, you would use workflow automation in BPM. BPM essentially acts as the larger umbrella, overseeing and automating the entire enterprise — inclusive of its workflows. In comparison, workflow automation is more focused on the specific processes and tasks that can be housed within the broader BPM system. Where they intersect is in their mission to optimize, enhance, streamline and make business processes more efficient. Ultimately saving your organization time and resources.

Benefits of BPM and Workflows

The benefits of both BPM and workflow automation are clear, helping organizations:

  • Save time.
  • Improve efficiency.
  • Reduce errors.
  • Save costs.
  • Boost productivity.

More specifically with BPM, organizations are able to get total visibility into their business, help orchestrate and manage work across the organization, predict outcomes, strengthen performance and importantly, continuously work to improve the results. Ultimately, it enables organizations to scale their automation efforts further and across the entire enterprise more efficiently to unify your workforce.

The benefits of workflow automation can be more distinct, and BPM covers many of these too: better transparency to keep track of progress, improved customer experiences as employees can refocus their efforts on them and improved employee satisfaction as they’re no longer bogged down by the same repetitive work.

Learn more detailed insights about the importance and benefits of BPM or workflow automation benefits.

Examples of BPM and Workflow

It can be helpful to see BPM and workflow automation in action:

BPM Onboarding

BPM is often seen as the building block organizations use to transform operations. For example, it can be used to improve an entire process, such as new customer onboarding.

In this example, BPM’s role will be helping you to redefine and streamline the intricate steps in an onboarding process. It orchestrates a more seamless and efficient journey for the customer and organization by improving all the tasks, approvals and documentation that might be holding up the experience initially

“SS&C Blue Prism Chorus BPM has helped us create a best-in-class customer experience. It has enabled us to deliver clear, concise communication and to process work quickly, which is what drives more clients, and more agents, to do business with us.”

Kylie Gormly

Vice president of customer experience, SILAC

See how Chorus helped SILAC deliver exceptional customer service.

Workflow Onboarding

Workflow automation can also be used in onboarding in a more specific manner. For example, it can be used to automate a specific subset workflow of the onboarding process — such as information retrieval. It focuses on that specific set of processes to improve. It may take into consideration other related processes, but not as detailed or specific as BPM would do. Discover more examples of workflow automation.

To sum up, here’s a quick, handy reference about BPM vs workflows:




Series of tasks in a process (repeatable). Workflow automation is the automation of these steps.

A more comprehensive approach to managing and improving end-to-end processes through analysis, automation and continuous improvement.


Specifically concentrated on the flow of a process.

A broader view that might span across various teams, departments or organizations.

Tools or resources

Workflow automation tools like email automation, project management tools and data collection tools.

Both a discipline and an IA technology, such as Chorus, that includes robust workflow features.

How Can I Choose Between BPM and Workflow Automation?

It depends on what you want to do and your organization’s goals. If you’re looking to automate just a single process in a team, then workflow software could be the option for you.

But, if your visions are grander, BPM will likely be your best bet. BPM lends itself to more scale, so you can optimize a large set of processes in one function, make improvements swiftly and then roll out similar automations in other areas. It also lets you manage multiple workflows, forms, reports and more.

To help guide your decision, here are a few questions to kickstart:

  • How large is your budget?
  • What’s the scope of the project?
  • Where’s the implementation area?
  • How long is the project?
  • Is it one process or multiple interconnected processes?

You might start with workflow automation to test one area, then move into BPM as you learn more about other processes you want transformed.

BPM and Workflow Tools

There are several workflow automation tools and business process management software out there. To help you get started, here are a few considerations you need to think about and some help deciding which partner or solution will be the best fit for you:

  • No-code/low-code — Do you want to build applications that solve use cases without developers or IT?
  • Analytics — What type of information breakdown do you want to have, such as real-time reporting?
  • Communications — Do you need personalization functions?
  • Monitoring — Do you want to track systems and performances through multiple control mechanisms? Such as advanced monitoring and telemetry, rapid deployment and scalability, resiliency disaster recovery, etc.
  • Data transformation — Do you need to extract, classify and transform data in a certain way?

If you’re still struggling to choose between BPM software and workflow, there’s no need to panic. You can’t go wrong with BPM, as it will still help you automate individual workflows. Then, when you decide you want to scale it up you have the resources already available through BPM to do it.

Think Bigger With Chorus BPM

While individual tasks or workflows can be automated in small groups, manual review and action were often required to move from one step to another. With integrated processing, the right work can move the right resources quickly.

BPM is built for growth and is a great strategic move for organizations to implement. It can help guide you more precisely and deliberately through its lifecycle, so organizations really nail the value of improving their business processes. And SS&C Blue Prism stands out with our BPM platform Chorus, a structured and proven approach to business process transformation.

Download our business process automation e-book to learn more about BPM or get in touch with us to accelerate your organization’s digital transformation with Chorus.

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