Thanks to the internet, business processes that used to be complicated—sending files to a partner, ordering inventory, or searching for the data you need—can now be completed with the click of a mouse. Unfortunately for businesses with a high volume of repeated web-based tasks, even those mouse clicks can turn into hours of time spent tediously navigating websites, downloading and uploading files, or copying data into Excel spreadsheets.
Richard Schoen from HelpSystems hosted a webinar about automating website interaction with Automate. The full recording of the webinar is below:
Richard started by introducing a few web-related tasks that our customers have faced in real life. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Someone from your business has to manually log into a trading partner’s website, navigate the site, and download files.
- You search Google daily for specific data and copy it into an Excel report of SQL Server.
- Your data has to be entered into a web application that doesn’t have an API available.
- Your web application doesn’t have a scheduling feature, so running daily reports is a manual operation.
These and similar tasks can be taken off your plate with Automate. There are a lot of names for this kind of solution—interactivity, web scraping, robotic process automation—but the simple explanation is that Automate can do the things that you do online without the need for human intervention or custom scripting.
According to Richard, one of the most common things customers ask about is how to get started with interactive automation. He recommends first asking a couple questions about your current processes:
- What tasks are you spending the most time on?
- Are those tasks repeatable enough to automate?
If the process is repeatable and follows a generally predictable pattern, it’s probably automatable. (That doesn’t mean it has to run at the same time every day. For example, the process could also happen every time a file arrives in a certain folder or a specific window opens.) Make a list of all the steps that your human operator takes. As robotic process automation software, Automate manipulates applications and websites at the graphical interface level just like you, so simply use Automate’s intuitive graphical interface to drag and drop each step into an automated process.
What Automate Can Do
Automate has a number of actions that can be automated to complete website interaction tasks. First are the browser actions. This includes opening, navigating, or closing a browser, extracting data from a webpage, or clicking on links and buttons. You can also build in wait time to allow the browser to load if your internet connection is slow.
Next are interactivity actions, which interact with Windows-based applications. This is important for automating elements in your processes that are not HTML-based, like a “Save As” dialogue when downloading a file or an Adobe Flash element on a web application. Finally, your automated processes can include input actions like sending keystrokes, clicking (including right or double clicks), and copying or pasting data.
As with all of Automate’s solutions, your web browser automation tasks can be integrated with automated actions that aren’t web-based, such as reading or writing data to Excel or a database.
- Richard demonstrated several specific website interaction tasks that can be automated. His demo begins at 15:20 in the video.
- Want to see what else Automate can do or ask questions about the product? Join an Automate Solutions Tour or webinar for a live demo.
- Richard talked about an Automate customer that grew their business using web application automation. Read the case study.
- Maybe browser task automation is not the answer to your current business challenges. Here are five other problems business process automation can solve.