Business Processes that Benefit from Workload Automation

What Business Processes should be managed with a Workload Automation solution? FTPs, data warehousing, and BI processes, among others.

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Workload automation enables IT to optimize and orchestrate business processes

Business Processes That Should Be Automated

In today’s fluid 24/7 world where business demands are real-time and IT is being asked to “script” business processes into automated workflows, old-school batch processing can no longer cut it. Posting a job to run every night at 3 AM was fine 10 years ago, but today these processes have to be run in real-time and workload automation is the key to industrializing business processes to save companies time and money. Here are three common business processes that Advanced Systems Concepts Inc. sees customers automating with ActiveBatch to save money and ensure SLAs are being met.

Automate FTPs Using Enterprise Job Scheduling

Information exchanges are becoming critical elements of today’s business processes, and information exchanges are increasingly being accomplished using electronic file transfers. On the flip side of the coin, anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of data processing is batch, according to industry analyst firms such as Gartner and Forrester Research. In almost all cases, file transfers are part of these batch processes, making it essential to ensure the reliable and timely transfer of files from FTPs. Managing and automating the two separately is not only expensive and time consuming, but exposes the business to risks associated with file transfer delays or failures of batch processes that are dependent on successful completion of FTP operations.

When we speak to prospects and customers regarding the automation of FTP and batch processes, they’re usually automating the two separately. This strategy is both time consuming and expensive, as it builds “silos of automation” that add IT complexity and make it difficult to manage complex workflows that span FTP operations, databases and applications. Moreover, FTP automation tools are difficult to use and often require programming or scripting, resulting in a fragmented approach that involves time-consuming and error-prone manual procedures spread across “siloed” tools and departments. The end result: the business is exposed to risks associated with file transfer delays or failures of batch processes that are dependent on the successful completion of FTP operations.

By adopting an architectural approach and incorporating the management of FTP operations within your enterprise job scheduler, IT organizations gain extended visibility and control over complex batch processes and the FTP operations that they’re dependent on. For example, when something does go wrong, enterprise job schedulers such as ActiveBatch provide the ability to securely send FTPs and automatically restart from the point of transmission failure while providing a centralized alert and monitoring framework to alert IT Operations of a problem.

End-To-End Automation Of Data Warehousing And BI Processes

In today’s world, businesses live by data, and data is delivered by business intelligence and reporting solutions. The insight these solutions deliver allow leaders to gain faster time to insight which directly affects the bottom line. Integrating and automating the data integration and warehousing processes that pass data to these reporting solutions has become critical.

The problem lies with the democratization of BI and reporting solutions, which has become a driving force in the growing complexity of data integration and data warehousing processes. ETL and data warehousing processes are integrating increasingly large volumes of data from multiple sources. These complex data pathways can fail, dependencies aren’t met, systems go offline, all without the visibility into each process step. As a result, reports are incorrect, late or both.

While many tools exist to automate the processes used to update data stores, most have significant limitations. For example, many leading enterprise data warehousing and BI solutions come with native scheduling capabilities, but these are typically limited in their respective functionality and are platform-specific, leaving IT organizations to rely on error-prone and time consuming scripting to pass data and mange dependencies between the various systems that comprise the modern data warehousing process. Developing, testing and updating scripts to automate these processes can take weeks and even months.

To solve the problem, many of our customers turn to workload automation to efficiently integrate and manage workflows across their data warehousing environments for improved data quality and reporting. By unifying platform-specific scheduling tools and scripts into a single IT Automation framework, IT organizations can integrate data pathways into automated, repeatable workflows that deliver a high degree of control over all steps of the ETL and BI process, allowing IT organizations to better meet business demands.

Pass Data And Manage Dependencies Between Applications

ERP, CRM, supply chain management, work order management software, project management and consulting systems… these are all examples of core business processes that run the modern business. Whether they’re Oracle, Microsoft, SAP or a series of solutions from best-of-breed providers, today’s businesses run on a heterogeneous collection of applications and platforms, a hybrid assortment of legacy applications, custom-built .NET or Java-based applications and newer, cloud-based SaaS systems. IT organizations require an architectural approach to scheduling and automating the batch processes that span these systems. As the customer examples below demonstrate, adopting an architectural strategy for IT Automation consolidates disparate scheduling tools and scripts into a centralized scheduling and automation framework that ensures the timely update of business applications and faster time to resolution when something does go wrong.

Business Process Automation Case Studies

  • An international financial services company consolidates a collection of Task Scheduler, SQL Server Agent, .NET Assemblies and PowerShell scripts responsible for executing bill payments or delivering credit card transactions for processing.
  • An international professional service/consulting firms automating key processes that pass data between their ERP and project management systems, such as loading daily exchange rates, passing payroll data and uploading consulting transactions.
  • A power company using ActiveBatch to keep its work order management solution, Passport, updated so engineering and maintenance staffs at its nuclear plants are working with updated information.
  • A large restaurant chain using enterprise job scheduling to integrate legacy ERP applications such as JD Edwards with newer, custom-built business applications.
  • A large North American trucking company using workload automation to not only upload accounts payable, invoicing and asset management data into ERP and business applications, but also automating several customer-facing activities for the company. For example, automating workflows that keep trailer tracking software updated with rental and lease agreements stored within the company’s transaction system, and then pushes that that information to the company’s website for access by customers.

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Colin Beasty was a contributor to IT Automation Without Boundaries, covering workload automation, data center automation, cloud management, and more.