Boomi-Powered BPA: A Framework for Business Process Automation

8 minute read | 12 May 2021

By Boomi

The concept of business process automation, or BPA, is taking center stage at organizations looking to improve customer experiences, increase cost-efficiency, and heighten business speed and agility.

With BPA as an element in broader digital transformation, companies can automate processes and workflows from end to end across multiple use cases such as B2B transactions, employee onboarding, financial management, self-service customer portals, and many others.

Here’s the twist — the evolution in leading integration platform as a service technology makes an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) like Boomi’s an ideal technology to turn BPA principles into action.

In my role at OSI Digital, a top-level Boomi Elite partner providing business and technology solutions, I’m seeing a growing number of our customers capitalizing on the multi-functional Boomi AtomSphere Platform to automate and orchestrate processes across the business.

Steadily expanding beyond core data and application integration since it pioneered the iPaaS market in 2007, Boomi has turned its cloud-native platform into what I call an integration platform on steroids. As a longtime iPaaS practitioner and market observer, I can say that no other iPaaS vendor provides as broad a set of capabilities as Boomi. These include:

  • Integration to connect applications and data with speed and ease, and break down data silos by integrating across a hybrid IT landscape.
  • Flow, a workflow automation service to quickly build simple-to-complex automated workflows that streamline business processes and data collection.
  • B2B/EDI Management to exchange and process transactions with business partners through any kind of data network.
  • Master Data Hub to build a centralized hub among applications and ensure data is synchronized, accurate, and up to date.
  • API Management to centrally create, publish, and manage APIs and web services

Siloed vs. Holistic Approaches to Automation

Those capabilities are tailor-made for business process automation that encompasses applications, data, people, processes, and devices. And because the capabilities exist in a unified platform, organizations don’t need to rely on ad hoc automation technologies that may be siloed across departments.

As it is, it’s not uncommon for a company to utilize various bits of technology for automation, such as tools for robotic process automation (RPA), workload automation, workflow management, or job scheduling, along with automation features in an ERP or CRM system.

That fragmented approach does deliver benefits, but they’re often isolated to a single use case or department, require specialized skills, and provide limited visibility. Ad hoc automation is also difficult to develop and maintain, and lacks data readiness capacity that’s needed to leverage data for its business value.

A more holistic approach to automation is needed for organizations to realize the full value possible with BPA:

  • Cost savings by eliminating manual data entry and communications work
  • Improved productivity by repurposing personnel to higher-value tasks
  • Risk mitigation and improved compliance by minimizing potential human error
  • Increased process visibility, monitoring, and accountability
  • Delivering 24/7 services to customers, partners, and employees

BPA Customer Successes With Boomi

In a BPA context, our team at OSI Digital has been helping customers build on their Boomi Integration deployments with additional capabilities including B2B/EDI Management, Flow, Master Data Hub, and API Management.

For example, we’ve helped one retail customer eliminate time-consuming manual processing of email orders. This company was manually downloading email attachments to one folder and moving them manually to a second folder for processing. If an exception occurred, they’d have to find and correct the error — a tedious process involving spreadsheets that consumed time and money.

Now with Boomi Integration and Boomi B2B/EDI Management, the company can seamlessly capture orders from emails, point-of-sale applications, and third-party marketplaces and push them to a NetSuite ERP application for fulfillment. Boomi has delivered an end-to-end improvement in efficiency, process visibility, and customer experiences.

Other customers have eliminated the costly overhead of a third-party value-added network (VAN) provider by moving B2B/EDI processing to Boomi. OSI Digital sets up Boomi to translate EDI document information, execute business logic and validation, and push orders to a back-end ERP.

On top of that, OSI Digital has built a Boomi Flow-based exception handling framework that brings additional visibility and control to the full EDI order lifecycle, with real-time transparency as opposed to waiting for periodic reports from a VAN partner. Some customers enrich EDI with Boomi Master Data Hub to support data stewardship and quality.

A Growing Focus on BPA Across Industries

At a healthcare provider customer, OSI Digital used Boomi Flow and Boomi Integration to help automate and orchestrate information and processes across multiple applications, replacing a manual process of identifying and assigning care coordinators to patients.

Previously, staff had to access several systems, consolidate data in spreadsheets, and manually match care coordinators to patients based on location, patient need, and a provider’s specialization.

Now the healthcare provider has a Boomi Flow-based “single pane of glass” that reflects data from multiple systems and introduces workflow-driven automation that’s saving time and money, enhancing visibility, improving health outcomes.

These are just a few examples of the many ways in which organizations are adopting Boomi-powered BPA. From OSI Digital’s perspective, Boomi’s speed of development and deployment supplies a critical edge. We’re able to put Boomi technology into production at least 35 percent faster than alternative approaches, saving cost and speeding value for clients.

The growing focus on process automation that we’re seeing at OSI Digital mirrors what independent researchers are finding. For example, a 2020 McKinsey & Co. survey found that 49 percent of organizations were piloting automation in at least one function or business unit, or planned to do so within 12 months. Only 16 percent had no plans to automate business processes.

Disruption is Prompting Greater Use of BPA

One factor driving BPA growth is the IT complexity introduced with hybrid IT landscapes of cloud and on-premises systems and platforms. Many organizations recognized that integration is essential across such diverse environments — and now are building on integration with additional degrees of automation.

COVID-19 has played a role as well. Organizations are heightening efforts to digitize their businesses and adapt to remote work models that are likely to endure post-pandemic. Pervasive connectivity and efficient workflows help ensure that remote users have the information and tools they need, and free time for the most valuable tasks.

Going forward, I see BPA as a prevailing theme among OSI Digital’s Boomi clients, numbering roughly 200 since we first partnered with Boomi in 2017. OSI Digital was recognized as a Boomi Partner of the Year in 2020, and our Boomi practice has been growing briskly across a variety of industries.

The ongoing evolution of the Boomi AtomSphere Platform has been good for OSI Digital’s business. More importantly, it’s been good for customers that start out with core integration and incrementally incorporate functionally for workflows, master data, EDI, and more, reaping the rewards of business process automation.

About the Author

Hilal Khan is the practice director, enterprise integration at OSI Digital. OSI Digital provides purpose-built business and technology solutions that optimize performance to enable data-driven outcomes for our customers. With extensive experience in data modeling, developing data warehouses, and SOA-based enterprise integrations, Hilal is responsible for the architecture and delivery of robust and scalable solutions for OSI Digital’s customers. His expertise also includes ERP technology and implementation, with specialization in human resources, payroll, finance, inventory, insurance, and other office automation systems.