Automation tools: which do you need?

It can be hard to know where to begin when choosing your automation tools. You know that you need to use an automation solution, but how do you choose the right one for you?

Depending on what you want to automate, there’s a suitable tool to help. You might want to automate one or two tasks, staggered workflows, or even business decisions. No matter the tasks, there’s a tool out there that’s right for you. 

So, whether you’re a programmer, a huge enterprise, or a business in the middle, here’s a handy overview of the different automation tools out there.

Starting small

For programmers, it’s likely that you might only want to automate one or two things, inside one or two systems. So, you don’t need one of the big automation tools with all the bells and whistles attached.

If you want to automate a single, specific task, you could consider using a macro. A macro is a short sequence of code that automatically expands into a set of instructions when read by the computer. These instructions outline how to perform a single, specified task.

A macro records and replicates common actions within an application. This makes specific tasks within the application less repetitive for the user. Macros also give programmers a quick and easy way to reuse big blocks of code, as they enable a small sequence of characters to represent a bigger block of code.  

So, if you’re a programmer looking to automate small, single tasks, a macro could be the choice of the automation tools for you.

Expanding to a specific procedure

Keeping things small, what if you want to automate a single, specific procedure or series of tasks? Well, there are a few automation tools available that are capable of this. The smallest of these is best used by programmers and takes the form of a sequence of code, known as a script.

Scripts are related to macros. The key difference is that they are more in-depth, allowing them to expand in functionality past that of a macro. These automation tools are essentially a list of commands that exist as text written in a scripting language. They run line-by-line to automate a procedure or action.

They’re useful for automating the behaviour of system programs. This makes them very useful to programmers, but not the most efficient solution for businesses.

The other end of the spectrum

So what options are there for businesses wanting to automate more than small tasks or processes? For large enterprises with deep pockets, automation tools with all the bells and whistles might be an option. This brings us to the other end of the automation tools spectrum, with artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is a tool that mimics the human brain to make decisions autonomously. It automates processes by learning from masses of accumulated data. This means that AI boasts functionality past that of other (more traditional) automation tools. For example, it can solve problems, answer questions and draw conclusions via its algorithms.

But AI is an extremely expensive automation option to implement. It also requires a large bank of data to learn from. So, unless you have the budget, (and the need to automate decision-based processes to justify the immense cost) it’s not necessarily the best tool for you.

The middle ground

So, what about a middle ground? When it comes to automation tools, business process automation (BPA) is the best option for most businesses. BPA is a great all-around tool for businesses big, small and everything in-between. It can handle a broad range of workflows as easily as it can a select few procedures.

Business process automation works via rule-based logic. That is, it works by following a series of pre-defined rules, triggers and actions that you can set up and tailor to your business need. It does exactly as you tell it, using if/then logic. With BPA, if you can think it, you can automate it. But unlike AI, it can’t think for you.

This automation tool, then, is more accessible than AI, and more useful to a business than a macro or a script. It can handle any number of business workflows, simple and complex. You just need to tell it what to do.

Automation tools based on needs

For programmers, macros and scripts could be the only automation tools you need. For large enterprises with deep pockets, AI could be the tool to help you make smarter decisions.

For everyone else, business process automation is the best of both worlds. It’s an affordable software solution, capable of automating any number of workflows across any number of systems.

If BPA is the tool of choice for your business, why not get started today with a free trial of ThinkAutomation?