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What is Process Orchestration?
Process orchestration describes the use of automation tools to coordinate and streamline a series of interconnected business processes. This can involve automating tasks, workflows, and decision-making processes across multiple organizational systems and departments.
On its own, process automation does not give businesses an end-to-end visualization of their workflows. Process orchestration bridges the gap between different tools and systems, providing a centralized view of the entire process and improving team collaboration and communication.
Process Orchestration vs. Process Automation
IT can automate specific tasks using traditional automation tools such as native job schedulers, custom scripting, robotic process automation (RPA) tools, and business process management (BPM) tools. These tasks can be scheduled, triggered by related IT or business events, or performed on an ad hoc basis.
Process orchestration tools have similar capabilities to automation tools, but there are significant differences between them.
Process orchestration tools have universal connectors, direct integrations, or API adapters, making system integrations easier. This is a significant advantage over traditional automation tools that only support specific vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, or SAP systems.
Companies can also easily integrate different tools and technologies using process orchestration tools. Data and dependencies from these new tools can be integrated into existing end-to-end processes using drag-and-drop workflow designers with low-code.
Process orchestration platforms can also monitor and maintain these processes and the resources and applications they rely on.
- Automated workflow coordination
- Business process automation
- Business process orchestration
The Importance of Process Orchestration
Process orchestration plays a critical role in business process automation—by ensuring all the moving pieces of a process are working together efficiently and effectively, it eliminates manual errors, reduces lead times, and enhances customer satisfaction.
What Process Orchestration Does
In the simplest sense, process orchestration coordinates and manages the flow of information and tasks within a business process.
This entails numerous different tasks:
- Workflow automation. Automating repetitive tasks, simplifying complex workflows, and ensuring compliance with business rules and regulations.
- Integration. Integrating different applications and systems to streamline processes, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency.
- Collaboration. Facilitating collaboration and communication between teams, departments, and systems to ensure business processes run seamlessly and effectively.
- Visibility. Providing real-time visibility into all stages of the process, including tasks, workflows, and decision-making processes so that any issues can be identified and addressed quickly.
- Optimization. Continuously improving the process by identifying areas for improvement.
The Benefits of Process Orchestration
Process orchestration solutions offer several benefits over traditional automation practices, namely those revolving around increased efficiency, lower costs, and improved customer satisfaction.
1. Reduces complexity by unifying disparate tools
In the past, automation was implemented on a case-by-case or opportunistic basis—that is, if one software enabled a specific automation function.
For example, one tool might be used to schedule batch processes overnight, another might gather customer data, and several custom scripts might transfer data between different systems.
Contrarily, process orchestration means combining individual tasks into end-to-end processes using an extensible automation tool.
It enables IT teams to manage the whole process lifecycle, including development, testing, monitoring, and managing, from a single location.
2. Minimizes the need for custom scripts
Process orchestration makes organizations more resilient by reducing their need for custom scripts.
Instead of relying on manual coding to automate tasks, process orchestration allows businesses to automate complex processes without coding and building complicated system architecture.
3. Reduces mean time to resolution (MTTR)
With real-time visibility into all process stages, businesses can identify and address issues quickly, reducing the time it takes to resolve problems and minimizing downtime.
Using a process orchestration tool, they can provide better customer service, ultimately improving customer satisfaction and driving retention.
4. Simplifies compliance
By managing audit and credential requirements, process orchestration simplifies compliance, ensuring that business processes adhere to legal and regulatory requirements.
Employee expense claims, for example, can be automatically validated and matched to relevant receipts, reducing manual errors and ensuring accurate reporting.
5. Streamlined integration with other applications
Integrating other tools from a single orchestration platform is faster and more streamlined than integrating them individually.
Through the use of connectors and APIs, businesses can easily integrate services such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and human resource management (HRM) systems, while maintaining effective and efficient communication between each.
Who Uses Process Orchestration?
Process orchestration becomes increasingly important as process complexity increases. Compared to process automation, it is relatively new, but is rapidly gaining adoption across many industries, including finance, healthcare, and manufacturing use process orchestration to automate and streamline their operations, such as order-to-cash and procure-to-pay.
Process orchestration is primarily used by:
- Developers: Rolling out new features, operation systems, and functionalities, managing the deployment pipeline, automating code integration and testing, enabling seamless version control.
- IT Operations teams: Monitoring and maintaining workflows, ensuring systems run optimally, automating routine maintenance tasks, managing system configurations and infrastructural changes.
- HR departments: Employee onboarding and offboarding, managing leave and benefits applications, orchestrating training and professional development pathways, automating internal communication processes.
- Compliance teams: Automating compliance checks, ensuring regulatory standards are met, orchestrating risk management procedures, tracking changes to legislation and adjusting processes accordingly.
- Sales and marketing: Automating sales lead qualification and distribution, orchestrating multi-channel marketing campaigns, managing customer segmentation and personalization, streamlining the sales process from lead to conversion.
Types of Process Orchestration
Process orchestration can be segmented into different types based on their specific application or the area they primarily serve.
Below are a few key types of process orchestration:
Application orchestration primarily concerns the automated arrangement, coordination, and management of complex computer applications, services, and systems. It streamlines the delivery of software and services by automating and synchronizing processes to speed up deployment and reduce errors.
Service orchestration focuses on the automated configuration, management, and coordination of different services in a network. It is crucial in telecom and IT services, where it enables optimal functioning of various interconnected services and minimizes the need for manual intervention.
Cloud orchestration is about managing and coordinating the delivery of automated tasks and workflows in a cloud environment. It involves the automation of deployments, monitoring, reporting, and maintaining cloud resources.
This can significantly improve efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure a better allocation of resources within a cloud-based infrastructure.
Security orchestration involves aligning and integrating different security systems and automating security operations. It streamlines the process of detecting, investigating, and responding to cybersecurity threats, thus reducing response time and the risk of human error in managing security incidents.
Journey orchestration focuses on designing, managing, and automating customer journeys across various organizational touchpoints and channels. It involves using data to create a personalized and optimized customer experience, enhancing customer satisfaction, and driving business growth.
What to Look for in Process Orchestration Software
Process automation is a must for most organizations—96% of IT professionals believe it is essential to digital transformation. Despite this, most organizations have not yet achieved their goal of fully automating their processes.
Unlike process automation, process orchestration is a relatively new field that is gaining traction as more businesses recognize its value.
Still, there are some common elements to look for when evaluating process orchestration solutions:
REST API Adapters
Interoperability between systems using REST API adapters allows for the seamless integration of disparate systems, enhancing process automation by enabling orchestrated tasks to extend across diverse systems and applications. This is particularly valuable as businesses are often using a mix of different cloud-based and on-premises services.
Take, for instance, a retail company that uses separate systems for inventory management, order processing, and CRM. Using a process orchestration tool equipped with REST API adapters, they can automate an end-to-end order fulfillment process.
When a customer places an order, an automated process kicks off: the inventory management system checks stock levels using its API, then, based on the inventory data, the order processing system processes the order using its API.
Simultaneously, the CRM system updates the customer record with order details via its API. All of this can be accomplished with minimal manual intervention, thereby reducing the potential for human error and significantly increasing efficiency.
Real-Time Monitoring Throughout the Entire Process Lifecycle
Real-time monitoring is an indispensable process orchestration software feature that offers a host of benefits, most notably the potential to drastically cut down the time spent on troubleshooting.
The visibility provided by real-time monitoring allows organizations to detect and address anomalies as soon as they occur, which is crucial in maintaining the optimal performance of automated processes and systems.
The primary advantage of real-time monitoring lies in its ability to identify and resolve issues within the process lifecycle.
When a problem arises, the ability to pinpoint and correct it promptly not only prevents further complications but also minimizes downtime, which can directly impact productivity and efficiency. And since it observes trends and patterns in real-time, businesses can proactively optimize their processes to prevent potential problems before they arise.
The value of real-time monitoring is amplified when combined with auto-remediation processes and artificial intelligence. With auto-remediation, when the monitoring system identifies an issue, it can automatically correct the problem without manual intervention.
When artificial intelligence is incorporated into the mix, real-time monitoring can provide intelligent automation, further reducing runtimes, preventing delays, and improving Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
For example, an AI-powered monitoring system could predict potential bottlenecks or failures based on existing data patterns and trigger preventive measures.
Self-Service Portals for Non-IT Users
The central idea of process orchestration is to bring together and simplify automated processes, whether those are IT operations, business functions, or help desk services.
A self-service portal achieves this by offering an intuitive interface where non-technical users can independently manage their automated tasks.
The immediate benefit of these portals is non-IT user empowerment. With a user-friendly interface that lets users launch, cancel, or restart their automated processes, it democratizes access to process management.
Users can manage their workflows without waiting for IT intervention, thus accelerating processes and enhancing overall productivity.
This user-centric approach also promotes better understanding and ownership of processes across the organization, which can lead to improved collaboration and innovation.
High code complexity, in itself, entails manual tasks. Process orchestration tools may encompass a range of DevOps capabilities, including dependency mapping, process modeling, and collaboration tools. But the most impactful of these features is low-code development.
As the name suggests, low-code platforms are designed to minimize the need for hand-coding, thereby simplifying assembling end-to-end workflows.
Low-code development environments typically offer a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface that abstracts the complexity of the underlying code.
This visual approach allows developers and non-developers alike to design and implement automated processes without extensive programming knowledge.
People Also Ask
Is workflow the same as process orchestration?
While workflow automation is a subset of process orchestration, the two terms are not interchangeable. Workflow automation refers to the automation of specific manual tasks within a workflow. Process orchestration refers to the automation of end-to-end processes that involve multiple workflows, systems, and teams.
Process orchestration provides a centralized view of the entire process, making managing and coordinating all the different elements easier. It ensures that each individual workflow is automated and optimized to work seamlessly within the broader process.
What is the difference between process orchestration and automation?
Process orchestration and automation are related but distinct concepts. Process automation is using technology to automate specific tasks within a workflow, such as routine data entry or recordkeeping.
Process orchestration describes the coordination and optimization of end-to-end business processes. This involves integrating and automating various workflows, systems, and teams to improve collaboration, reduce manual errors, and enhance customer satisfaction.
In other words, process orchestration provides a holistic, centralized view of an entire cohesive process rather than automating isolated tasks within it.