Conferences on Business Process Management

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3rd BPM Expert Forum on July 6, 2021

“Will RPA make BPMSs redundant?”

The third BPM Expert Forum will take place on July 6, 2021, with Stefanie Rinderle-Ma and Bernd Rücker.

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Prof. Dr. Stefanie Rinderle-Ma

Stefanie Rinderle-Ma is a full professor at the Department of Informatics, Technical University of Munich, Germany, where she holds the Chair of Information Systems and Business Process Management. Before Stefanie worked as full professor at the University of Vienna, Austria. Stefanie’s research interests include flexible and distributed process technology, digitalized compliance management, as well as process and production intelligence. The goal is to enable and accelerate digitalization and automation through processes and at the same time keep the human in the loop. Application areas comprise production, logistics, and medicine.

Process orientation and automation are key to digital transformation across industries. Both, RPA and BPMSs aim at process automation, but from different angles. RPA is an “outside-in” approach [ABH18] and typically suited for simple and repetitive tasks where user interactions with the UI are replaced by software. BPMSs implement and execute process logic “from scratch”, mostly based on process models. The following questions can be raised:

[AHB18] W.M.P. van der Aalst, M. Bichler, A. Heinzl: Robotic Process Automation. BISE 60:269-272 (2018)

Bernd Rücker

I am a software developer at heart who has been innovating process automation deployed in highly scalable and agile environments of industry leaders such as T-Mobile, Lufthansa, ING, and Atlassian. I contributed to various open-source workflow engines for more than 15 years and I’m the Co-Founder and Chief Technologist of Camunda – an open-source software company reinventing process automation. I am the author of “Practical Process Automation” and co-author of “Real-Life BPMN”. Additionally, I am a regular speaker at conferences around the world and a frequent contributor to several technology publications. I focus on new process automation paradigms that fit into modern architectures around distributed systems, microservices, domain-driven design, event-driven architecture, and reactive systems.

Process automation covers a variety of use cases. Depending on the nature of the process it calls for different software solutions, like RPA, low-code tooling, or orchestration via workflow engines. All have their pros- and cons and it is vital to understand them to sketch your own architecture and tool stack. For example, RPA in reality is task automation. And while low-code tools have their merits, it can be dangerous to be bypass software development for certain processes that would require pro-code approaches – as this can lead to malicious cycles of developer shortages. In recent customer projects I work with what I call “the process automation map” to classify processes and map them to sweet spots of different tool categories. This allows you to see that RPA is one piece in the overall process automation puzzle, while workflow engines are another. Having said this, we should think twice about using the term BPMS, as this is too often connected to inflexible tools that were stuck-in-the-middle between low-code and pro-code.