Common challenges when working on mature Automic Automation Engine solutions

ecs-admin 22nd February 2016

Workflow automation solutions today are more intelligent than ever before: as more enterprises come to depend on IT for an increasing number of core business processes, orchestrating a constantly diversifying stable of technologies, platforms and applications becomes more and more arduous. And, as automation systems grow over time, more and more processes are on-boarded. This means that automation systems are likely to increase in complexity – not so much because of the quantity of objects or the difficulty of the process, but because of the increasingly intricate relationships between objects can become difficult to follow and document.

Understanding exactly how these relationships work can be challenging for anyone – whether you’ve spent years working with the system or just picked it up. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the common challenges when dealing with mature Automic Automation Engine solutions, and how best to manage them.

Mature automation systems share some distinctive characteristics.

Automation systems have made it possible to reliably and efficiently carry out tasks that would ordinarily be susceptible to human error – tasks that are overly complex, repetitive and/or boring are the usual culprits. However, the flip-side of this is that as automation systems grow, they build a large ecosystem of workflows and objects with inter-dependencies. Even though automation solutions can contain hundreds, or even thousands of objects, the quantity of the objects isn’t as important as the relationship between them. Large and sophisticated automation systems also typically have a high grade of nesting, with nested workflows often existing within other nested workflows, and so forth. On top of this, each task within a workflow can have its own individual properties, all of which influence that particular task’s behaviour. For example, pre- and post-conditions may impact an individual task within a nested workflow. The active/inactive flag also affects individual tasks, which could result in some tasks being inactive without any obvious signs of this in the workflow view.

Additionally, some tasks have external dependencies which are often difficult to identify, since there are specific conditions that result in the external dependency being considered. Other objects aren’t executed by direct dependencies, but through a call in the script. Standard user interfaces also only give the option to view a single workflow at a time, which makes it difficult to assess the functionality and influence of a single job, and therefore make a modification to it without affecting functionality of other workflows. Regardless of whether you’ve been working with the system for a long time or you’ve just made a start, understanding these complex relationships can be arduous, to say the least.

Some common questions for mature Automic Automation Engine solutions

Working with a established automation solution certainly has its difficulties, but the most common challenges that people have when working with Automic Automation Engine boil down to four questions:

  • How do I view all objects within the workflow, including all nested workflows (including nested workflows within other nested workflows) until I reach the last object in the call stack?
  • How do I see where each object is being used?
  • How can I visualise external dependencies?
  • Is there a way to uncover hidden dependencies and nested workflows?

ExtractaFlow 2.0: Document Automic Automation Engine workflows quickly and easily

As a long time Automic partner, ECS Digital has extensive experience implementing and optimising Automic Automation Engine workflows in many different environments across a number of industries world wide. To help our clients get the most out of their automation workflows, we’ve built a full-featured desktop application called ExtractaFlow that makes it easy to understand the complex hierarchies of objects that exist in mature workflow automation solutions. What’s more, we’ve just released version 2.0 of ExtractaFlow, which includes a host of new features, fixes and improvements.

Some of the features of ExtractaFlow 2.0 include:

  • Full support for Automic Automation Engine version 11 and below.
  • Create technical drawings quickly and easily – ExtractaFlow’s intuitive interface means there’s virtually no learning curve.
  • Customise your drawing with a variety of colours and drawing options.
  • Access all your diagrams and shared content, all stored as local files on your desktop.
  • Label and colour-code task connectors.

ExtractaFlow makes it easy to keep tabs on individual objects within your Automic Automation Engine solution, no matter how complex it may be. With our easy-to-use tools and clean, simplistic interface, navigating your workflow will be easier than ever before. Visit our website now to sign up for a free two-week trial of ExtractaFlow 2.0 today!

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