The Driving Forces of Automation Adoption
The Fourth Industrial Revolution presents a significant macroeconomic impact on various global issues, such as the ongoing pandemic, a shortage of skilled workers, disruptions in supply chains, inflationary pressures, and an energy crisis.
For businesses to thrive amidst these challenges, they must remain agile and adaptable. Global issues have led to various difficulties, including reduced productivity, rising labour costs, and labour shortages resulting from pandemic-related health concerns.
Additionally, inflation has caused price increases that can stifle innovation and quality. Moreover, businesses are hindered by inefficiencies from manual and repetitive tasks integral to their operations.
All in all, this has resulted in a perfect storm. Accelerating the development and adoption of automation within businesses. Improving efficiency and simultaneously reducing the burden on overstretched workforces.
The Bots are here…
MuleSoft’s RPA comes to the rescue…
In the digital transformation era, digital technology is integrated into all areas of an organisation, profoundly transforming how businesses function and provide value to consumers.
MuleSoft is vital in facilitating digital transformation by delivering solutions that assist organisations in seamlessly and efficiently integrating their applications, data, and devices.
MuleSoft Flow Automation uses Bots to automate repetitive, mundane, and rule-based tasks. MuleSoft’s RPA solution makes it simple for organisations to automate processes by building bots that can communicate with apps and systems via API calls. The various use cases that can be implemented include data input automation, report generation, and testing automation.
MuleSoft Flow Automation (RPA) in action…
Use case: Automated expense/invoice approvals
The use case I wish to explore is diverse and can be adapted to different scenarios based on personas. For instance, it could be used by a Finance team to approve travel expenses or by a Supplier Manager to approve invoices below a certain amount.
To gain an overview of this business process, consider the example of an expense report maintained in an Expense sheet. However, it could also be in email attachments or retrieved from an expense system. For simplicity, we will stick to a basic implementation.
- The Finance team checks each expense line in the report for its amount.
- If the expense amount is less than £500, it can be approved automatically. However, if it exceeds £500, it requires the manager’s approval.
Note that the approval amount is configurable, and the mentioned amount is only an assumption.
Now, using MuleSoft’s RPA solution, let’s delve into how a Bot could automate the expense approval process:
- Firstly, the Bot accesses the Expense file from the Shared Drive.
- Then, it selects the file content and checks each record to determine the expense amount.
- If the amount is less than 500, the Bot automatically approves it. However, if it exceeds 500, the Bot requests Manager Approval.
BPMN – Tasks and Activity params
First, log in to your RPA account using your RPA credentials.
Step 1: Set up the Activity parameters to hold the expense amount and the expense owner.
- First, click on the top right corner of the BPMS canvas.
- Include the Activity parameters to save the expense amount, owner, and line counts for iterating the expense records. You can specify any default values for the Activity parameters on this screen. Choose the appropriate type of Activity parameters based on your data processing needs, either Integer or Alphanumeric.
- The Business Process Initialisation will initialise the following set of Activity parameters with their default values.
- Add these values to the Workflow so these parameters can be used later in the flow.
- Read the Expense file contents and extract the expenses as below:
- Iterate over extracted data to check whether EOR(End of Records) has been reached or not.
- Decision tree – If Expense Amount is > 500, pass the record to the Manager Approval User task or if the Expense Amount is < 500, pass the record to the Auto Approval step.
Step 2: Manager Approvals User Task.
Approval task for Managers to approve expenses over Amount > 500. Also, we can display the Activity Parameters related to Expense Owner and Amount for Managers to review and approve the expense.
Step 3: Auto Approval task to approve the Expenses < 500.
Let’s see the Bot in action
Simple text file with expense details – Expense Owner and the Expense Amount.
Test run for the Bot executing the first step in the flow to read the expense details from the file.
I have added a Message box to debug my flow to see and check the data in flight. This step is only used for testing purposes.
The Bot has processed the first entry in the Expense file. The Expense Owner is named as Jack James, and the Expense Amount is 800. Because the Expense Amount exceeds the Auto Approval limit of 500, the Bot has submitted the information to the next step for Manager approval.
You can now see the Activity Params have been populated for the Manager to review and approve as below.
The manager has approved the expense, and the Bot has completed the first iteration of the Expense approval.
Moving to the next iteration, we must check whether all the records have been processed. As indicated in the Message box below, additional records must be processed, so the status completion flag is currently set to false.
The Bot has successfully retrieved the subsequent Expense record. The Expense Amount for this record is 400, which falls below the Auto Approval expense limit of 500.
The Expense record was sent to the Auto Approval process by the Bot. I used a Message Box to confirm that the expense record was auto-approved. We can also use an email component to notify the relevant teams that the expense has been auto-approved.
The Bot has successfully processed the expense records, and the final test run information is provided below.
In this blog, Breaking Free from Mundane Tasks: How MuleSoft Can Help, I have demonstrated how MuleSoft RPA can automate the repetitive manual activities involved in the expense approval process.
This example can be enhanced further by incorporating additional capabilities, such as the ability to extract expense receipts (such as those for travel, lodging, transportation, etc.) from emails or scanned invoices provided by suppliers.
In conclusion, MuleSoft’s RPA is transforming automation by providing businesses with a powerful platform to automate their end-to-end business processes. By integrating RPA with MuleSoft, businesses can create automated workflows for different departments and systems, build a more resilient and scalable automation ecosystem, and improve compliance and security adherence. With MuleSoft’s RPA, businesses can focus on higher-value activities that drive business growth and success.
If you want to know more about using MuleSoft for intelligent automation within your organisation or learn how Devoteam can help you implement solutions, please do not hesitate to contact us.