How to implement file automation (without scripting)

Let’s face it. Many business processes depend on the successful manipulation of files and get stuck or fail if something goes wrong with even a single file along the way.

Now, while most ‘file automation’ programs help you with simple file manipulations (moving files, deleting files, etc.), a business environment usually requires more sophistication. Here’s a real life example.

One of our clients in the insurance industry has a business process where it received zip files via ftp from insurance agents. Zip files contain incident data (photos of damaged cars etc.) which needs to be extracted and moved to different back end system.

The file automation problem begins when a zip file is corrupted and cannot be opened – something which causes the entire business process to get stuck and fail. Since the backend legacy system was lacking a log file, even identifying the event was not that obvious.

Our customer used eyeShare, our IT process automation tool to resolve this issue. eyeShare validates the time stamp on zip files. If the time stamp is over 2 hours (indicates the file could not be opened), it triggers an automated workflow in eyeShare, which sends notification via text message, and performs several corrective activities.
Why didn’t the customer use scripting? Two reasons. First, time saving — the ability to implement the required logic without writing a line of code, simply by dragging pre-build logic activities. The second reason is complexity — the need to automate several corrective activities (including alerts and notifications), plus handling legacy systems, which would require complex script writing and integration capabilities.

So if we try to generalize, what’s needed many times is a combination of two capabilities: a sophisticated watchdog that can monitor and respond to a wide range of file events; and high-level process automation ‘skills’ in order to perform any number of activities across different systems when certain conditions are met. So for example, you’d want a mix and match capabilities such as the table below:

Trigger an automated workflow
Existence/total number of files Send an alert to a human being to inform about status (SMS, mail, voice message)
File size Perform file operations (delete, move, etc.)
File extension Terminate a task or start a process/server
Timestamp Extract data , parse,
File data (read log file) Perform corrective maintenance

Here’s how the process actually looks like:

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

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