What is Digital Process Automation? (DPA)


What is the definition of Digital Process Automation? 

The term Digital Process Automation (DPA) was first used by Forrester in 2017 to describe the shift from Business Process Management to a growing need for businesses to automate processes as part of wider digital transformation initiatives.

Forrester Research states: “As organizations undertake digital transformation efforts, an important realization emerges: process matters. Investments in beautifully designed web and mobile experiences won’t move the needle unless application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals ensure that the processes on the back-end align to support a true end-to-end customer experience.”

This means that Digital Process Automation can be applied to manual, repeatable tasks throughout an organization to improve efficiency, while at the same time connecting applications and streamlining processes throughout departments, from employee onboarding in Human Resources to procurement in Finance.


What is the difference between Business Process Management and Digital Process Automation?

Business Process Management (BPM) is a related practice to DPA. BPM is more focused on the process models themselves, and how to model, analyze, measure improve and optimize business processes, according to Gartner’s definition.

DPA has emerged as an important evolution of the traditional category of BPM. What’s changed over the last few years are the goals of projects that used to come under the umbrella of BPM. In the past, the business cases for these initiatives would have been built on cost reduction and profitability. But they are now built on the competitive requirement to improve the customer experience.

It loops back to revenue in the end, of course. After all, the net result of improved customer experience is that organizations can increase revenues through more effective acquisition and retention of customers.


What are the benefits of Digital Process Automation?

  • Improve efficiency – quickly completes tasks, without any manual interference, saving time and money 

  • Enhance the customer experience – makes data available that allows the customer journey to be put into context and help organizations to create more personalized experiences. 

  • Enable connectivity – integrates systems and eliminates silos to provide a single view of business data to enable better informed and more efficient decision making 

  • Promote connectivity – Business and IT teams can collaborate more effectively though a single platform 

  • Business orchestration – supports the coordination of people, systems and information across the organization to support business strategy


Discover how digital process automation could benefit your organization.

What are examples of using Digital Process Automation?

Typical examples of processes that require digital process automation include areas such as customer onboarding and loan, credit, quotation, pricing approvals. When these processes are automated effectively, and in a way that can be constantly improved, it creates an opportunity for competitive advantage.

CIO Connect defines the wider business benefits of Digital Process Automation in these terms: “It is not just processes related to low-level employees that can be automated. There is an opportunity to improve the productivity of high-level executives and knowledge workers. The free time generated could be used on more innovative and creative projects, generating more value for the organization as well as improving employee satisfaction.”

Here’s how Fortune 500 company, ManpowerGroup Portugal puts DPA at the heart of its digital transformation strategy:




How do I get started with Digital Process Automation?

DPA is like many other modern technologies in that the best way to get started is to think big, but to start small and then, when you’re ready, scale fast.

Starting small gives you the opportunity to adopt an agile approach, to fail fast and learn even faster, reducing the overall risk of any program.  Most importantly, this approach allows you to demonstrate results fast. This makes it easier for you to gain buy-in for the larger initiatives that you have in mind.

Here’s how travel commerce platform, Travelport put that approach to the test:



Do I need a platform to deploy Digital Process Automation in my organization?

Having a DPA platform in place is a great way to establish end-to-end automation of processes across your organization. It unites the business and IT departments in the business for better collaboration. The platform also acts as an orchestrator that brings together siloed data to give a better view of all customer information.

Forrester divides DPA platforms into two categories: wide and deep. DPA wide platforms are designed for automating processes of moderate complexity using low-code platforms, while DPA deep platforms handle the more highly complex processes.

Bizagi was named by Forrester as a leader in the Forrester Wave: Software for Digital Process Automation for Deep Deployments, 2019. The report states that “Bizagi balances deep DPA functionality with a platform designed to go wide… [falling] somewhere between the wide and deep process automation models, and it likes to describe itself as “the widest of the deep.”

You can read The Forrester Wave: Software for Digital Process Automation for Deep Deployments, Q2 2019 here.