Originally published on Thrive, a Lexmark blog for finance professionals. 

In a world of acronyms the definition of the terms BPA, BPO, and BPM vary widely. Here is our take on it – I look forward to your comments. How do you define and differentiate?

BPA – Business Process Automation

BPA was once described as the low hanging fruits in business process workflow optimization. And we think that it is not a far-off definition.

For us, BPA is the automation of business processes with a fast implementation timeline and also ROI. At Lexmark we are defining BPA as most relevant for document/information-intensive processes.

Automating such processes provide companies with the ability to significantly improve processes (cost, time, quality) and realize straight-through-processing (STP). Whilst still maintaining overall control of their process and retain agility.

With regard to software solutions for BPA – these are transaction-workflow focused.

BPO – Business Process Outsourcing (providers)

Business Process Outsourcing is about outsourcing the operations and responsibilities of business functions/processes to a service provider.

Such service providers are in the focus of Lexmark. Enabling them with technology to become more efficient is a key goal. BPOs in the past were utilized merely for cost-saving purposes, something that has changed significantly over time. Today BPOs are strategic partners of their customers who enable companies to maximize value and efficiency of business processes.

We still like the definition of back office (referring to supporting administrative functions) vs. front office (referring to customer-related services) outsourcing services, as it still reflects today’s reality. But both are merging which poses further challenges for BPO.

KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) is also a term that reflects the changing perception of BPOs and increases the value perception of services offered.


BPM – Business Process Management

For us, this is on one side the methodology (five stages: design, modeling, execution, monitoring and optimization) used to improve business processes; and on the other side it refers also to the market-place of holistic software solutions.

BPM software solutions differentiate from BPA as they are more human-centric, penetrate an organization deeper thus require also a longer implementation period with longer ROI.

Let us know you if you agree with our definitions in the comments below!

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