Automating (legacy) business processes using cutting edge technologies - part 1 (Motivation)
In this series I want to show you how we at Gruner+Jahr (G+J, part of RTL) approach the automation of business processes. There will be a series of five articles on this topic:
EASI (Apache Camel)
So let's start by looking at our…
Before we start investigating what we are doing at G+J to automate business processes, let me begin with a short introduction of my team.
My team is called CAIR, which is an acronym for "Corporate Automation Integration and Robotics". Currently we are 10.5 Software Developers/Architects and 2.5 product owners for the it aspects of the product development. We work for ~10 product owners/stakeholders from nearly every corporate unit at G+J, developing and maintaining ~50 applications. Integrating everything from Salesforce over SAP to ServiceNow to give just some examples.
As in probably most of today's bussineses there exists a vast number of manually executed processes that might be (partly) automated using existing toolsets. As automation often is the economically preferable path to take, the demand to actually automate things is growing every day.
Two things we noticed during the last years integrating systems (and thus automating various business processes) was:
Creating transparency of the state of the (partly) automated process instances that span a bunch of otherwise completely unrelated systems is a hard (impossible?) thing to do but is a thing we were asked for by our stakeholders on a regular basis. Aditionally the wish to provide such a view, grew in us constantly.
Some processes, or systems that are used executing them, do not offer our preferred way of interaction: APIs. They might be automatable though, but need UI interaction.
Given these demands and our previous experiences when integrating systems, we started looking at possible solutions for those requirements. After a short phase of reasearch (talking to solution partners, going to meetups, visiting conferences on that topic, contacting other companies that use setups that solve those issues, …) we created an architectural draft and identified two tools that we pitched to our management:
BPMN based workflow engine (CamundaCloud)
RPA (robotic process automation) toolchain (Microsoft PowerAutomate)
Management bought in, yay! So we introduced these tools and started refining and implementing the architecture. And this is where I will continue in the next part of this article series coming up: General Architecture.
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