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What is Digital Process Automation and why do I need it?

By Tim Stephenson - 12th February 2019

One of the benefits of Digital Process Automation (DPA) is that it provides a roadmap on how you can quickly understand, visualise and improve processes. 

In the previous blog, we looked at how APIs help with overhauling legacy systems. In this blog, we’ll see how DPA helps you coordinate these APIs and their implementations.
 

APIs & Microservices

APIs allow you to attach and detach front-end services (what the consumer or users sees) from back-end applications (the system or machine that controls the front-end). This decoupling allows you to overhaul the back-end application with modern technologies, often labelled as microservices, without disrupting front-end services.

Microservices help structure an application as a loosely coupled collection, enabling you to take a modular approach to building your application.

Each of these services performs a valuable, even essential, task. But in isolation, they are pretty useless. There has to be something that helps realise the potential of these systems and tie them into the value chains of the organisation.

And that’s where DPA comes in. 
 

Digital Process Automation (DPA)

For a long time, process experts have wrestled with this problem of getting the speed and cost advantages of ‘going digital’ whilst not losing control of the systems. The essential point is that we now have multiple open-source process automation platforms to innovate with. These platforms allow rapid assembly of your microservices into whole systems that support your service delivery. And when requirements change, they allow equally rapid reassembly of those services and/or new ones to meet those changes.

These tools bring a transparency to the IT systems that are all too often missing. By providing a simple visual notation known as Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN),  it allows service owners to grasp how their technology landscape relates to their service delivery; i.e. which pieces provide value and which are problematic and need to be replaced.

Having grasped the software architecture, this visual model allows all members of the team to analyse it. Why do we do it this way? Wouldn’t it be better if we did it like that? That’s how continuous process improvement begins.

This is a tactical approach to getting control of your legacy beasts; often known as a bottom-up approach. 

In the next blog, we’ll look at how using these same tools together with a structured methodology can put you on the front foot and help you design your value-chains from the top-down.


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About the author: Tim Stephenson
Tim Stephenson is our DPA Practice Lead. With over 15 years' experience, Tim's area of expertise is business process management and digital transformation. He has architected many million pound plus software development projects and his expertise is called upon regularly at industry events.