Automation vs. Orchestration - What's the Difference and How Do Both Benefit Your Organization?

In a bid to digitize operations and increase business agility, more and more organizations are turning to automation as a tool for transformation. As the popularity of process automation has grown, there is now a need to orchestrate processes and the people, systems and bots that facilitate them. In this article we will explain the difference between process automation and process orchestration – to help you design your strategy. 

This is an important topic because orchestration is where the greatest value can be achieved in terms of efficiency, agility, and delivering market-leading customer experiences. 


What is process automation? 

Automation is a broad term encompassing physical robots, software robots, and Business Process Automation, where applications are created that digitize operations and intelligently integrate your enterprise systems.  

Business Process Automation is born from the practice of Business Process Management. Business Process automation is used to automate everything related to a process including data, business rules, performers, and integrations to create  enterprise applications. These applications are created using low-code platforms such as Bizagi. How does it work? It all starts with a process model. This is used to document, simulate and improve the process before automating it. The model then becomes the basis of your application. 

Low-code applications are faster to build and easier to change than those created using traditional coding. Low-code platforms enable non-coders to collaborate with IT and contribute to the creation of the application because the process model is the core of the application. Importantly, low-code platforms offer intuitive interfaces for business users. 


What is process orchestration? 

We’ve talked about process automation, but what does it mean to orchestrate a process? 

orchestration      /ɔːkɪˈstreɪʃ(ə)n/      noun 

1. the arrangement or scoring of music for orchestral performance. 

"Prokofiev's mastery of orchestration" 

2. the planning or coordination of the elements of a situation to produce a desired effect, especially surreptitiously. 

"the orchestration of the campaign needed tightening" 

The word ‘orchestration’ originates from the arrangement of a musical performance. It happens to be a useful term in the context of arranging complex business operations. What it really means is the bringing together of multiple elements in order to produce a combined overall effect. 

So when we talk about process orchestration, we’re talking about the ability to use technology to arrange multiple elements of a business such as its people, systems, data and bots. It gives IT teams visibility of the different systems used to carry out automation tasks and how they are connected and allows them to monitor these systems in a single platform to optimize operations. 


What's the difference?  

Despite the terms automation and orchestration often being used interchangeably, automation is a subset of orchestration.  

Automation has been widely adopted by many organizations in a bid to reduce costs, increase efficiency and maximize business output and it is not without success.   

However, when automating multiple business processes of varying complexity at scale, it is orchestration that provides the visibility and control needed to achieve digital efficiency across the enterprise – connecting businesses across teams, locations, and time-zones. 

Orchestration is more complex than automation. It coordinates tasks, integrates systems, makes decisions based on outputs, and adapts to changing conditions. The goal of orchestration is to provide an overall view of automation technologies across the enterprise including low-code, RPA, AI, and legacy systems. 


How does automation benefit the organization? 

- Cost savings  

Automating repetitive, manual tasks increases efficiency and productivity. It lowers the number of time-consuming tasks employees need to complete giving them more time to focus on higher-value work and reducing the need for additional headcount when workload increases. 

- Increased compliance 

Automation allows you to build compliance checks into your processes and automatically update them to ensure that regulatory requirements are met every time a process is executed. It also provides ongoing visibility of compliance status to reduce non-compliance risk and enable more accurate auditing. 

- Increased agility  

Changes in technology, regulations, and customer expectations require organizations to respond quickly to stay relevant and keep up with the competition. Business and IT can collaborate in a centralized platform to create solutions that meet these new requirements and continually update as they evolve.   

- Increased accuracy 

Automating business processes improves consistency and reduces the likelihood of errors caused by human input. Fewer errors mean business decisions are made based on more reliable information and employees spend less time fixing them and delaying processes. 


What additional benefits does orchestration bring? 

- Increased governance and security 

Orchestration allows IT to centrally manage all the automated processes across the organization. This increases transparency and governance and minimizes the risk of shadow IT. Centrally managing process applications also enables IT to manage permissions to increase security. 

- Preserve IT resources 

Managing the entire organization’s automations within one platform enables efficient use of IT infrastructure and resources as your IT team does not have to continually monitor and fix multiple applications. 

- Integrate new technologies quickly 

Centrally coordinating IT applications enables new systems to be integrated to the existing infrastructure with ease. 

- Enhance employee productivity and satisfaction 

Employees can complete tasks within a single interface instead of having to log in to multiple systems saving time. 


Process orchestration in action 

Deutsche Post DHL 

Worldwide logistics company Deutsche Post DHL wanted to integrate and optimize its business operations to increase process transparency and efficiency. By orchestrating its tech stack and connecting internal and external users, data and systems it was able to automate 24 processes in vendor management, procurement and customer service from end-to-end globally in 17 languages, saving 400 FTEs and 20m Euros per year.  

Unilever International 

Global consumer goods company Unilever International wanted to connect the multiple technologies used across the organization to increase visibility, enable efficiency and ensure governance. By orchestrating processes from end-to-end through integrations with SAP, DocuSign and Excel, they were able to monitor process status, reduce errors, and speed up cycle times across several processes including pricing, shipping and governance.  



Orchestrate your organization with Bizagi's low-code platform.