How to Improve the Automate Everything Approach — Ranorex Blog

To Save Time, Cost, Efforts and a lot more

Automation is all around us and is a crucial aspect of our organization and lives. Technology lets people automate pretty much everything—from manufacturing, to tweets, to space exploration. How it benefits us can be directly linked to its implementation process.

Automation offers scalable benefits to modern enterprise. It simplifies human activities and reduces operational costs in the long run. A business of any size and nature can automate its processes and improve performance significantly.

One should automate to:

  • Gain speed, momentum and velocity
  • Schedule tasks and enhance workflow efficiencies
  • Reduce monotonous tasks
  • Keep system admins and developers happy
  • Increase employee productivity
  • Save considerable costs, and lastly,
  • Accelerate ongoing business development

Workflow Automation Trends

The key to success in achieving LOB (line-of-business) and workflow efficiency has evolved due to different trends that company leaders should embrace. Some common trends allow to enhance effectiveness and get the most of a workflow system. The key workflow automation trends to keep in mind:

  1. Many businesses use robotic process automation (RPA) and workflow technologies together. In this scenario, some tasks are done by bots, some — by humans, while task assignment and flow are managed by a workflow automation app.
  2. Businesses start to realize that simply changing from paper-based workflow to digital workflow doesn’t bring enough benefits for the business. Hence, they tend to consider modern workflow management systems capable of processing data efficiently during the approval process, obviating the document exchange steps.
  3. Gartner encourages CIOs to implement integrated digital platforms, that can consolidate a wide range of digital technologies and give even more synergetic benefits.

The most important workflow software trend in 2021 is the technology “democratization”. Nowadays workflow technology democratization expands widely thanks to low-code platforms, which empower non-IT professionals to build their business workflow automation apps and make them available in the cloud.

Video

How to Find a Workplace Automation Solution for Your Business

Here’s what you should look for in a workplace automation tool:

A. It should be easy to use

When you’re introducing a new process or system to your team – you might be met with a lot of resistance. That’s why you need to ensure that your automation tool can be used by anyone.

For example, If you’re managing a non-technical team, the tool shouldn’t require the users to know Voldermort’s favorite programming scriptPython

(Get it?)

B. It should be able to handle most of your tasks

It doesn’t make sense to buy a separate tool for handling every individual task of your workflow. It’s like getting a separate wand for each and every spell!

Keep a lookout for tools that have features that can handle more than a single automated task

For example, an email automation tool that helps you with marketing automation is a good choice.

C. Its cost should justify the benefits

Not everyone is as rich as Draco Malfoy’s father, who once bought Nimbus 2001s for all of his son’s Quidditch team members!

Create a budget for all your task automation tools and other related software like RPA (Robot Process Automation). 

Then create a shortlist of the tools that can help you, and choose the one that offers the most value for the lowest price.

Automate Content A/B Testing and Optimization

Do you have two potential headlines for your article, and you’re not sure which one is more effective? Or, maybe you want to experiment with different images on your social media posts to see which one gets the highest click-through rate.

Split A/B testing is the traditional way to measure the effectiveness of two different versions of a single piece of content, but it can be very time-consuming when done manually and can quickly become complicated if you’re experimenting with more than one variable.

Automated testing and optimization tools take the hard work out of optimizing your content and marketing campaigns. With AI-powered tools, you can even experiment with thousands of iterations of a single landing page or piece of content, and the software will intelligently optimize it with each individual who visits the page.

Automation for Seamless Data Management

RPA and data management make a particularly compelling combination. Data management includes numerous repetitive tasks in aggregation and curation that can benefit from automation. Applying RPA to large data repositories makes tasks such as data cleansing, normalization, data wrangling, and creation or updating of metadata more efficient.

Case: Company A seeks help with managing loads of information!

Business challenge: The organization was expected to have the ability to dive deep in the oceans of fragmented data and bring them up rapidly for decision making. They are aware of the game-changing potential of Big Data, but its adoption has several complexities. What will they do?

Solution: Hexaware’s Big Leap can quickly help align the big data projects of the organization with their business goals while complementing his correct maturity levels in terms of adoption of Big Data. They can leverage what they currently have and do lots more with this solution to leverage the rapid value that Big Data provides.

Fulfilling Orders, Smarter

If you are sending anything out to customers, you need to look at investing in a comprehensive order management systems (OMS) that hooks up with your website. Together, these tools can manage inventory updates across all selling channels. Some can also connect with supplier warehouse management systems to make picking and packing tasks easier.

In meeting demands in peak seasonal shopping periods, order management automation can make a huge difference to your profit margins. It will also make your website management during the sales a lot more efficient, and ensure that product listings are 100% accurate. An out of stock product page or an unfulfilled order can lead to a really negative customer experience.

Environment creation script

The first script we’ll look at is named New-AzureWebsiteEnv.ps1. It creates an Azure environment that you can deploy the Fix It app to for testing. The main tasks that this script performs are the following:

  • Create a web app.
  • Create a storage account. (Required for blobs and queues, as you’ll see in later chapters.)
  • Create a SQL Database server and two databases: an application database, and a membership database.
  • Store settings in Azure that the app will use to access the storage account and databases.
  • Create settings files that will be used to automate deployment.

Run the script

Note

This part of the chapter shows examples of scripts and the commands that you enter in order to run them. This a demo and doesn’t provide everything you need to know in order to run the scripts. For step-by-step how-to-do-it instructions, see Appendix: The Fix It Sample Application.

To run a PowerShell script that manages Azure services you have to install the Azure PowerShell console and configure it to work with your Azure subscription. Once you’re set up, you can run the Fix It environment creation script with a command like this one:

.\New-AzureWebsiteEnv.ps1 -Name <websitename> -SqlDatabasePassword <password>

The Name parameter specifies the name to be used when creating the database and storage accounts, and the SqlDatabasePassword parameter specifies the password for the admin account that will be created for SQL Database. There are other parameters you can use that we’ll look at later.

After the script finishes you can see in the manag

After the script finishes you can see in the management portal what was created. You’ll find two databases:

A storage account:

A storage account:

And a web app:

And a web app:

On the Configure tab for the web app, you can see

On the Configure tab for the web app, you can see that it has the storage account settings and SQL database connection strings set up for the Fix It app.

The Automation folder now also contains a <webs

The Automation folder now also contains a <websitename>.pubxml file. This file stores settings that MSBuild will use to deploy the application to the Azure environment that was just created. For example:

As you can see, the script has created a complete test environment, and the whole process is done in about 90 seconds.

If someone else on your team wants to create a test environment, they can just run the script. Not only is it fast, but also they can be confident that they are using an environment identical to the one you’re using. You couldn’t be quite as confident of that if everyone was setting things up manually by using the management portal UI.

A look at the scripts

There are actually three scripts that do this work. You call one from the command line and it automatically uses the other two to do some of the tasks:

  • New-AzureWebSiteEnv.ps1 is the main script.

    • New-AzureStorage.ps1 creates the storage account.
    • New-AzureSql.ps1 creates the databases.

Parameters in the main script

The main script, New-AzureWebSiteEnv.ps1, defines several parameters:

Two parameters are required:

  • The name of the web app that the script creates. (This is also used for the URL: <name>.)
  • The password for the new administrative user of the database server that the script creates.

Optional parameters enable you to specify the data center location (defaults to "West US"), database server administrator name (defaults to "dbuser"), and a firewall rule for the database server.

Create the web app

The first thing the script does is create the web app by calling the New-AzureWebsite cmdlet, passing in to it the web app name and location parameter values:

Create the storage account

Then the main script runs the New-AzureStorage.ps1 script, specifying "*<websitename>*storage" for the storage account name, and the same data center location as the web app.

New-AzureStorage.ps1 calls the New-AzureStorageAccount cmdlet to create the storage account, and it returns the account name and access key values. The application will need these values in order to access the blobs and queues in the storage account.

You might not always want to create a new storage account; you could enhance the script by adding a parameter that optionally directs it to use an existing storage account.

Create the databases

The main script then runs the database creation script, New-AzureSql.ps1, after setting up default database and firewall rule names:

The database creation script retrieves the dev machine’s IP address and sets a firewall rule so the dev machine can connect to and manage the server. The database creation script then goes through several steps to set up the databases:

  • Creates the server by using the New-AzureSqlDatabaseServer cmdlet.

  • Creates firewall rules to enable the dev machine to manage the server and to enable the web app to connect to it.

  • Creates a database context that includes the server name and credentials, by using the New-AzureSqlDatabaseServerContext cmdlet.

    New-PSCredentialFromPlainText is a function in the script that calls the ConvertTo-SecureString cmdlet to encrypt the password and returns a PSCredential object, the same type that the Get-Credential cmdlet returns.

  • Creates the application database and the membership database by using the New-AzureSqlDatabase cmdlet.

  • Calls a locally defined function to create a connection string for each database. The application will use these connection strings to access the databases.

    Get-SQLAzureDatabaseConnectionString is a function defined in the script that creates the connection string from the parameter values supplied to it.

  • Returns a hash table with the database server name and the connection strings.

The Fix It app uses separate membership and application databases. It’s also possible to put both membership and application data in a single database.

Store app settings and connection strings

Azure has a feature that enables you to store settings and connection strings that automatically override what is returned to the application when it tries to read the appSettings or connectionStrings collections in the Web.config file. This is an alternative to applying Web.config transformations when you deploy. For more information, see Store sensitive data in Azure later in this e-book.

The environment creation script stores in Azure all of the appSettings and connectionStrings values that the application needs to access the storage account and databases when it runs in Azure.

New Relic is a telemetry framework that we demonstrate in the Monitoring and Telemetry chapter. The environment creation script also restarts the web app to make sure that it picks up the New Relic settings.

Preparing for deployment

At the end of the process, the environment creation script calls two functions to create files that will be used by the deployment script.

One of these functions creates a publish profile (<websitename>.pubxml file). The code calls the Azure REST API to get the publish settings, and it saves the information in a .publishsettings file. Then it uses the information from that file along with a template file (pubxml.template) to create the .pubxml file that contains the publish profile. This two-step process simulates what you do in Visual Studio: download a .publishsettings file and import that to create a publish profile.

The other function uses another template file (website-environment.template) to create a website-environment.xml file that contains settings the deployment script will use along with the .pubxml file.

Troubleshooting and error handling

Scripts are like programs: they can fail, and when they do you want to know as much as you can about the failure and what caused it. For this reason, the environment creation script changes the value of the VerbosePreference variable from SilentlyContinue to Continue so that all verbose messages are displayed. It also changes the value of the ErrorActionPreference variable from Continue to Stop, so that the script stops even when it encounters non-terminating errors:

Before it does any work, the script stores the start time so that it can calculate the elapsed time when it’s done:

After it completes its work, the script displays the elapsed time:

And for every key operation the script writes verbose messages, for example:

Journalists

15+ Best Productivity Apps – Save Money, Time and Effort

Coffee could be killing your productivity. As former Googlers say, relying on your morning cup of Joe is likely to worsen your work rate. But there’s also one thing that can actually boost your output – not undermine it. I’m talking about…

Automate Content Creation

If you think of automated content as nothing more than the nonsensical content produced by article “spinners” in an attempt to manipulate Google’s algorithm, you’ll be shocked to see what today’s content automation software can do.

The AI industry has made huge leaps in the last decade, and one area where this is really obvious is content creation. News publishers have already been using automated content creation tools for several years. For example, the Washington Post uses AI technology to write short reports and social media updates on sporting events.

To get an idea of just how sophisticated AI-powered content generators have become, just look at the example of GPT-3. Even the previous version of this AI model is so effective at writing “fake news” that OpenAI, the nonprofit that created it, was forced to withdraw it from public use for fear that it would be misused.

However, most marketers won’t want to automate the entirety of their content production. But, automated tools can be very helpful to post social media updates, short news alerts, and other small snippets of content.

aul Roetzer, one of our advisors and founder of the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute, has a clear opinion on the state of automated content creation. “We’re a long way away from robots replacing creatives and writers. There are platforms available today that can generate highly templatized documents like financial reports, but Johnny 5 is not guest blogging for you anytime soon.”

Focus on function and flow

You have now reasonably confirmed the software addresses the change it was intended to address, at least to the level many people will exercise it. Likely, you have already done more than most would and we have not yet automated anything. Here is where most “testing” stops and people begin to “automate.” This is the wrong place to do this.

Instead, take a look at intended usage of the software. How does it get used, in the wild? What do the customers, external or internal, reasonably intend to use the software for? Can you emulate what they need to do? Can you emulate the “business flows” they will use?

Many will say “No.” I understand that. At one point in my working life, I would have agreed. A wise woman gently asked me once, “Have you tried asking anyone?” I hadn’t. That was a lesson I have never forgotten.

It often isn’t in the requirements or in the acceptance criteria, and is not often addressed in the “justification” or “statement of business purpose” or “problem/need” statement. Most of the time those are not prepared by the people who use the software to do what needs to be done. Ask the people who need it for their jobs, if at all possible. It may not be, I get that. But someone can likely describe how the software gets used.

Talk with them.

Then, build scenarios to exercise what they describe, Review it with them. Show them what the software does to make sure you understand what need is being addressed.

The scenarios you scripted and reviewed the results for have one vital purpose.

They define the main business “flows” going through the software you are supposed to test. Once you have that done, you now have a meaningful set of test scenarios which make sense to the actual customers.

Why Choose the Comindware Workflow Automation Software?

Among several options for business management, Comindware Tracker stands out from the crowd. It is an incredible next-generation software that will help your team complete their tasks and make your company departments truly interconnected. Naturally, this software has an elegant and easy-to-use graphical workflow modeling tool to better visualize the workflow and supports Excel-like formulas. Comindware Tracker also features a top-notch web form designer to design intuitive interfaces with adjustable tabs and fields; data export to Microsoft Word or Excel. A secure cloud-based technology ensures your peace of mind and robust data storage. SLA status indicators show the status of the ongoing project. Convenient Outlook-style visual hints help you master Comindware Tracker. You can create reports, statistics, and analytics to measure the current work progress; create sequential and parallel workflows; set different access levels for each role; share documents with stakeholders to improve communication between different parties. The software boasts many other services that can be integrated. No surprise businesses chose Comindware Tracker to improve workflows and improve or establish intercommunication. Its many features ensure that business owners get perfect results.

I have used Comindware Tracker for almost two years now to automate workflow across the Engineering business unit in our organization. This software is used across almost every single business unit in Upper Trinity. It has enabled teams to reduce the time taken to calculate expenses on projects as well as time incurred on business processes. – Sr. Electronics Technician, Upper Trinity Regional Water District | Read the Full Review

Comindware offers a 30-day trial to experience the highest level of quality and efficacy of the product. For many people, this cloud-based workflow automation system will mean gradual working environment improvement as tasks can be done by more employees. By doing less routine work and focusing on areas where specialists are needed, achieving goals will be easier.

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