Does Winshuttle meet the requirements for robotic process automation?

By Monika Pletschke on March 23, 2016

The majority of Winshuttle customers use our software to automate manual processes, using familiar spreadsheets and scripting to massively speed up transactions in SAP (e.g. master data mass updates, automated journal entries). Other applications of Winshuttle software include the transformation of poorly-defined and loosely coupled tasks into a well- structured and governed workflow. Winshuttle is a platform that has proven results in the areas of data collection, data validation and data movement, while ensuring security and governance.  But is the Winshuttle platform up to robotic process automation (RPA)?

The requirements for robotic process automation include having the software perform tasks that are currently performed by a a human. Such tasks may include responding to an e-mail request, gathering data over multiple systems, or interacting with systems of record. RPA processes typically do not alter the systems in place, but interact with those systems as a human operator would. RPA tools therefore have to demonstrate the capability to interact with one or more systems like a person would. The individual tasks that make up the process need to be executed in a specific sequence. Branching should be supported, e.g. when an exception occurs, or if the task is routed to a person because the process is completed autonomously by the software. The tool needs to support the reading and writing of data from and to one or multiple sources and destination systems. These systems could include an Outlook inbox, Excel spreadsheet, SAP, or many others. Extensibility

The Winshuttle platform incorporates many of the attributes required by RPA, specifically in processes whose interaction is either with SAP or Salesforce, ( the capability to Interaction with other systems of record will be added in the near future). The interaction with these systems of record is always through the application layer – that means no changes are required to your SAP system.  This is very important because it means configuring the robot to perform an SAP transaction requires no programming – just simply recording the transaction. The Winshuttle platform has the capability to design the flow of tasks and any conditional branching by means of a graphical interface.  While this is currently applied mainly to design workflows, it is possible to have “Activities” (manual interaction by a person with a web form) in the process flow that are substituted with plugins and “Autopost” functionality (no manual interaction required) to achieve complete automation. Exception handling that alerts a human operator is very well supported within the platform, as it’s already used extensively to automate workflows. The ability to transfer data through other means besides web forms or spreadsheets without human interaction, is a functionality that isn’t currently well supported in the no-programming paradigm.  This does not mean it’s not available, but it’s supported within the extensibility framework, i.e. programming may be required.

For this the Winshuttle platform offers two mechanisms – Business user extensibility through Javascript or VBA and Developer extensibility through .Net or ABAP. Much of the functionality incorporated within the Winshuttle platform is intended to rapidly create workflow applications without programming, and many of our customers have built and deployed these workflow applications. The Winshuttle extensibility model does however offers further opportunities to achieve Robotic Process Automation.


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About the author

Monika is an experienced IT professional, with more than 20 years in roles ranging from SAP consulting (MM), system analysis and design, solution architecture, integration management and project management. She has worked internationally across multiple industries including automotive, manufacturing, chemicals, energy, telecom, public sector, textiles and tertiary education. As principal solution engineer with Winshuttle since November 2013, she has presented at roadshows, webinars and user group meetings, created tailor-made product demonstrations, contributed to Winshuttle collateral, written proposals and estimated projects. She enjoys the wide range of activities working for a dynamic and growing software company and the wide exposure to diverse business challenges encountered by Winshuttle’s customers.


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