Business process automation (BPA) is defined as the automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through the use of advanced technologies. It focuses on “run the business” as opposed to “count the business” types of automation efforts and often deals with event-driven, mission-critical, core processes. BPA usually supports an enterprise’s knowledge workers in satisfying the needs of its many constituencies.
“The most important thing to consider is the problem you are trying to solve. Many test automation initiatives fail because teams are trying to jump in head first and automate every test possible instead of the most valuable tests according to the goals of development. They find themselves in a maintenance nightmare. Pick the most valuable test you were already performing manually and automate those first.”
In 2016, an anonymous confession appeared on Reddit: “From around six years ago up until now, I have done nothing at work.” As far as office confessions go, that might seem pretty tepid. But this coder, posting as FiletOFish1066, said he worked for a well-known tech company, and he really meant nothing. He wrote that within eight months of arriving on the quality-assurance job, he had fully automated his entire workload. “I am not joking. For 40 hours each week, I go to work, play League of Legends in my office, browse Reddit, and do whatever I feel like. In the past six years, I have maybe done 50 hours of real work.” When his bosses realized that he’d worked less in half a decade than most Silicon Valley programmers do in a week, they fired him.
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The second area, application coverage, looks at the test process from other directions -- typically, the percentage of the requirements that are "covered." One common application coverage tool is a traceability matrix -- a list of which tests cover which requirements. Typically, test case management software records all the planned tests and allows testers to mark that a test case "ran" for any given release, which allows management to determine what percentage of tests were "covered." This is a sort of "quality assurance" look at the test process, which should ensure that each part of the application is covered, along with a management control.
BPAs can be implemented in a number of business areas including marketing, sales and workflow. Toolsets vary in sophistication, but there is an increasing trend towards the use of artificial intelligence technologies that can understand natural language and unstructured data sets, interact with human beings, and adapt to new types of problems without human-guided training. BPA providers tend to focus on different industry sectors but their underlying approach tends to be similar in that they will attempt to provide the shortest route to automation by exploiting the user interface layer rather than going deeply into the application code or databases sitting behind them. They also simplify their own interface to the extent that these tools can be used directly by non-technically qualified staff. The main advantage of these toolsets is therefore their speed of deployment, the drawback is that it brings yet another IT supplier to the organization.
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