Finding the right process automation tool for IT

Process automation tools include a wide range of apps and technologies that support end-to-end process orchestration.

Written by Brian McHugh. Last Updated:
Process automation tools include a wide range of tools and technologies, part of a trend towards process orchestration.

What are Process Automation Tools?

If your IT team is swamped with manual tasks like transferring data between systems, scheduling batch jobs or troubleshooting issues, they’re spending little time innovating. You’re not making the most of your investment in great people, and they’re not enjoying the opportunity to be creative and contribute to strategic project management.

In this type of environment, miscommunication and inconsistency are rampant. It can feel like greater efficiency isn’t possible. That’s because it isn’t with your current tools.

However, there’s hope. With a process automation tool, your IT department can reclaim their time and support broader business goals. Using drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built templates, your team members can engage in task management and workflow management with confidence.

Read on to understand how enabling complex workflow orchestration, real-time monitoring and alerting and more can transform how you work.

What are the benefits of process automation?

Whether they’re used in a data warehouse or by a front-office sales team, process automation tools offer substantial benefits to individual teams and entire organizations. Automating common tasks such as data movement saves time and minimizes the risk of costly human error. 

With fewer manual tasks to handle, IT and business teams can spend more time on higher-value projects like designing new products or dedicating more attention to customers. 

No-code process automation, in particular, enables business users and less experienced developers to automate simple tasks and streamline processes without having to rely on the larger IT team.

What are process automation tools?

Process automation tools enable users to automate manual processes and tasks, often through a user-friendly workflow designer that supports low-code development. This allows users to build and automate processes without the need for custom scripting.

These tools make it easier to manage the complete process lifecycle by providing monitoring, alerting, resource management and advanced DevOps capabilities. They help you identify and eliminate bottlenecks and improve your overall responsiveness to changing business needs.

Platforms with robust connectors enable you to see all critical updates in one place. Dashboards could enhance visibility over data routing and mission-critical processes such as procurement.

Types of process automation

Process automation is an umbrella term for a wide range of automation approaches. There are four main categories of process automation:

  1. IT Process Automation (ITPA)
  2. Business Process Automation (BPA)
  3. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  4. Digital Process Automation (DPA)

There is plenty of overlap in capabilities between these categories, but it’s important to note that they do not share the same origin and, hence, do have different capabilities.

IT process automation (ITPA)

IT process automation solutions emerged from batch scheduling technologies first developed in the 1960s. These tools evolved into job schedulers that provided event automation as well as date/time scheduling. 

Today, ITPA tools provide visual workflow designers and API accessibility, enabling IT to construct processes that manage data and dependencies across disparate systems and technologies.

Because ITPA platforms are designed to be used by IT in support of an organization’s digital infrastructure, they make it possible to orchestrate processes across the enterprise. ITPA capabilities can (and should) include:

  • Advanced analytics, in-depth views and automated logging to minimize the time it takes to troubleshoot and optimize processes
  • Dynamic resource provisioning to ensure processes have adequate compute to successfully complete
  • Event-based automation to trigger processes based on IT and business events
  • Real-time monitoring and notifications to keep IT up to date and support auto-remediation for unexpected issues or complications

Top tools

BMC Control-M: An application and data workflow orchestration tool for both on-premises and as a service 

  • Key features:
    • Ability to embed workflow orchestration into CI/CD pipelines
    • Automated file transfers
    • Jobs-as-code methodology
    • Pre-built integrations for enterprise apps
    • Proactive SLA management

Visit BMC.com to learn more.

RunMyJobs by Redwood: The full-stack advanced workload automation platform and SAP’s #1 job scheduler for building end-to-end business and IT processes

  • Key features:
    • A catalog of easy-to-install connectors
    • Date/time- and event-driven job scheduling
    • Integration of apps across on-premises, hybrid and cloud environments
    • Support for over 25 scripting languages
    • The first native SaaS job scheduler

Visit Redwood.com to learn more.

ServiceNow: A cloud-based platform for digital workflow automation and enhancing operational efficiency

  • Key features:
    • Certificate inventory for tracking TLS certificates
    • Customizable service portal
    • Integration with ITSM and ITOM
    • Real-time data analytics and reporting dashboards
    • Service Graph Connectors for integrating external data

Learn more at ServiceNow.com.

Business process automation (BPA)

Business process automation came about in the early 2000s as a consequence of business process management (BPM) technology. 

BPM dates back to the 1980s and ‘90s. Organizations were digitizing tasks and processes and driving the need to standardize and optimize those processes. As the volume of digital processes grew, so did the need to automate.

Business process automation tools go beyond day-to-day task management and provide tools to develop, automate and monitor complex processes critical to business operations. This can include pulling data from multiple systems to automate employee onboarding processes, trigger file transfers based on business events and compile and distribute reports to employees or customers.

Top tools

ActiveBatch by Redwood: The easiest-to-use workload automation platform in the marketplace for automating both IT and business processes

  • Key features:
    • Date/time- and interval-based scheduling across timezones
    • Health Service for monitoring system performance
    • Integrated job steps library for simple job creation and management
    • Machine resource optimization

Web Services API and Service Library supporting both SOAP and REST

Ready to see how we make workload automation easy?

Schedule a demo to see how easy it is to build and maintain your jobs in ActiveBatch.

Bizagi: Business process automation software with a low-code interface and built-in artificial intelligence

  • Key features:
    • AI tools for parsing, extracting and analyzing unstructured text
    • Cloud and on-premises deployment options
    • Drag-and-drop visual process modeling
    • Role-based user experiences
    • SLA escalation and audits

Visit Bizagi.com to learn more.

Tungsten TotalAgility: A flexible low-code process orchestration platform with intelligent document processing 

  • Key features:
    • Automations for improving the employee and customer experience
    • Case management tools for better decision-making
    • Document library with pre-trained extraction models
    • Generative AI for conversational insights
    • Workflow optimization and dynamic rules management

Discover more about Tungsten TotalAgility.

Robotic process automation (RPA)

Similar to BPM, robotic process automation tools evolved from back-office screen-scraping technologies that were popular in the 1980s and ’90s. This is what sets RPA tools apart from other process automation tools — RPA largely operates via the user interface, whereas BPA and ITPA interact with other applications at a deeper programmatic level.

RPA software automates rule-based, repetitive tasks such as data collection, data entry or creating user accounts. For example, if a customer has applied for an insurance quote, an RPA bot can collect that information and enter it into a desktop application or Excel spreadsheet.

Interest in RPA solutions has surged in recent years as an effective way to provide desktop automation for office employees. However, RPA implementations have been limited by the rigidity of the scripts that underlie these processes, as well as the impact large deployments of software robots can have when IT isn’t positioned as an owner.

Top tools

Automation Anywhere: A powerful, user-friendly platform that supports both attended and unattended bots

  • Key features:
    • Accessible to non-technical users for easy scalability
    • Automations for order-to-cash, procure-to-pay and other common business processes
    • Cognitive automation with AI capabilities
    • User-friendly bot creation for repetitive tasks
    • Visual editor and pre-built templates for automation building

Visit AutomationAnywhere.com for more information.

Blue Prism: A robust, secure and scalable RPA platform ideal for enterprises needing to deploy large numbers of robots

  • Key features:
    • Automation lifecycle management toolkit
    • Decision automation with detailed audit logs
    • Integrated process intelligence for rapid process flow analysis
    • Process assessment tool for validating and scaling RPA
    • Task and process mining for automation optimization

Learn more at BluePrism.com

UiPath: A well-known RPA platform that allows businesses to start small and scale quickly 

  • Key features:
    • Automation for UI elements and APIs
    • Enterprise-grade orchestration tools
    • Extensive library of pre-built activities
    • Intuitive automation design tools
    • Task, process and communications mining

Visit UiPath.com for more information.

Digital process automation (DPA)

DPA is a hybrid of ITPA and BPA. It streamlines and optimizes the end-to-end delivery of data to support the customer experience.

For instance, when online traffic surges for a retailer, a DPA tool can provision the servers needed to support the extra traffic. A parallel DPA process can then take the customers’ information, perform an ETL process and send the data to a BI tool before sending a morning report to the appropriate business users.

Top tools

Appian: A low-code automation platform and data fabric solution that accelerates the creation of high-impact business applications

  • Key features:
    • AI-powered automation to eliminate time-consuming tasks
    • Built-in development governance
    • Process intelligence for pinpointing inefficiencies
    • Real-time process performance tracking
    • RPA, AI, IDP and API integrations

Learn more at Appian.com.

Nintex: A workflow automation software designed to automate complex business processes quickly and easily

  • Key features:
    • Integrated forms automation, RPA, document generation and e-signature
    • Mobile workflow management apps
    • Process identification and task-level process mapping
    • System health insights and BI integrations
    • User-friendly interface with customizable branding

Visit Nintex.com for more.

Pega: A cloud-based software that delivers advanced analytical insights and AI-powered process automation

  • Key features:
    • AI-powered decisioning for customer self-service and more
    • Built-in design frameworks to support easy automation design
    • Complex business process management tools
    • Low-code development for back-office workflows
    • Out-of-the-box case management features

Learn more at Pega.com.

The era of digital transformation and process orchestration

IT organizations are managing more data, applications and systems than ever before, with environments that are increasingly diverse, leveraging open-source tools, SaaS, cloud-based infrastructure, on-premises mainframes, etc.

New tools and technologies — AI, IoT, 5G, natural language processing — are opening new possibilities for the digital workforces willing to adopt them, and the market pressures to adapt to these changes are increasing. To stay ahead, organizations need the capacity to rapidly integrate new tools with existing legacy systems and create processes that leverage these new technologies.

This requires process orchestration, an emerging field occupied by a variety of technologies applied to a range of use cases. Automation providers have, in some cases, successfully developed products that provide the tools needed to integrate, automate, optimize and orchestrate disparate processes into end-to-end processes.

Process orchestration tools sometimes incorporate intelligent automation to help manage the entire process lifecycle using workflow automation, machine learning and advanced analytics to manage and optimize those processes.

Current orchestration technologies include workload automation (WLA) tools, service orchestration and automation platforms (SOAPs) and enterprise cross-platform job schedulers.

The right process orchestration tool can provide the extensibility to rapidly integrate any new tool or technology, with DevOps tools that accelerate process creation and iteration and keep IT in control yet collaborative.

Explore what process automation could help you achieve — book a demo of ActiveBatch today.

Process automation FAQs

What is process automation?

Process automation refers to the use of technology to perform repetitive tasks or processes in a business or organization. With software applications, systems and various technologies, process automation streamlines operations, reduces manual intervention and improves efficiency. Organizations can apply process automation to achieve greater accuracy, consistency and speed in both IT and business processes. Process automation can be applied to a wide range of activities, from simple tasks like data entry and report generation to complex workflows that involve multiple departments and systems.

In addition to enhancing efficiency, process automation minimizes errors. It ensures that tasks are completed on time and according to predefined standards, which improves overall quality and reliability. Moreover, process automation can provide better visibility and control over business operations through real-time monitoring and reporting, enabling managers to make informed decisions. This transformative approach is crucial for businesses seeking to remain competitive in a fast-paced, technology-driven market.

Learn more about process automation tools and help enable users to automate manual processes and tasks.

What is SAP process automation?

SAP process automation means using leading technology company SAP’s software and tools to automate business processes within an organization. SAP is a leader in enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions and offers various automation tools that integrate seamlessly with its suite of products. These tools help businesses automate routine tasks, streamline workflows and enhance operational efficiency. SAP process automation leverages technologies such as RPA, machine learning, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to optimize processes across different departments.

By implementing SAP process automation, organizations can significantly reduce manual effort and human error to generate more reliable business outcomes. For example, SAP Intelligent RPA (SAP IRPA) automates repetitive tasks like invoice processing, data entry and customer service interactions. SAP’s automation tools can integrate with existing SAP systems to build a unified platform for managing business operations. This integration facilitates better data consistency and improves compliance.

Learn more about enterprise automation for SAP processes.

What is an example of business process automation?

An example of business process automation is the automation of the accounts payable process within an organization. Traditionally, this process involves multiple manual steps, including receiving invoices, matching them with purchase orders, obtaining approvals and processing payments. Software solutions can streamline and expedite these tasks. Automated systems receive and validate invoices electronically, match them with purchase orders and delivery receipts, route them for approval and even trigger payment disbursements without human intervention.

Discover how to automate routine tasks, develop innovative processes and upgrade business operations with ActiveBatch.

Why is workflow automation important?

Workflow automation is important because it enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations by reducing the need for manual intervention in routine tasks. By automating workflows, teams complete tasks faster and with fewer errors for greater productivity and efficiency. Automation helps to standardize processes, which supports high-quality output and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Workflow automation also provides better visibility and control over business processes. Automated systems can track the progress of tasks in real time, provide insights and alert stakeholders to any issues or delays. Enhanced transparency enables managers to make data-driven decisions, optimize resource allocation and improve overall process management. Workflow automation tools also free up employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities, fostering innovation and driving business growth. Automation is a proven tool for reducing costs and remaining competitive in a rapidly evolving business environment.

Discover how to build and automate reliable end-to-end workflows in half the time with advanced workflow development and management capabilities