What is Series Published by:

The understanding of key concepts is critical when discussing any platform and technology. Different RPA platform vendors use these same words, processes, bots, and automations, but each uses a slightly different variation with their meaning. The market is coming up with standard definitions for many terms in use. Read on to understand what these key terms mean and how best to use them in this new installment of the What is Series.

Some Background

Every new technology resolves many problems. However, along with these solutions, come challenges arise. The inconsistent use of terms is one of those challenges. Until the dust settles and the whole industry uses the same terms and definitions, there will be a need for thinking about the meaning of some of the terms we use.

Which Business Terms do we use for Processes, Bots, and Automations?


These are the tasks and collections of tasks that people do to complete a business process. Sometimes a few tasks make up a simple workflow. Some other times, a combination of tasks, collections of tasks, conditions, and different actors perform a complex workflow.


Applications, or programs, are collections of code that make up functional units of different levels of complexity. Programs can be combined to create an application (an app) or a system at its most complex level.

Automatic Workflows

After converting workflows into programs, you can achieve automatic workflows. Automatic workflows are collections of workflows and programs that can accomplish a function that would otherwise be executed by one or more people in the organization.

The RPA Terms: Processes, Bots, and Automations


Each RPA process represents a business workflow. The simplest expression of a workflow is a process. RPA processes can define specific business procedures for facilitating automation. Process Discovery then is the workflow that an organization needs to follow to document and explain the smallest components to those automating in the RPA platform.


Each bot is a small set of steps, a program; with the intent of completing a business workflow. Bots that are increasingly more complex can also be a combination of simpler bots, helping to address more complex functions. You can see a bot’s code and, depending on the platform, be able to understand what it does. Some RPA platforms are easier to understand than others. Citizen Developers in particular love Automation Anywhere for its design, user experience, and simplicity. Citizen developers are part of a business unit that doesn’t necessarily need to have programming skills. In this case, citizen developers create starter bots that the RPA Center of Excellence, the IT department, or a Services company can bring to best practices and compliance.


Automations are bots and configurations for using them. These bots can be either called in by the occurrence of an event or manually started. After an automation starts, it may (or may not) require manual intervention laying out the path for attended and unattended automations where attended automations run on the user’s device, and unattended automations normally run on a server.