Achieving Event-Driven Automation with Automate Triggers

December 14, 2017


A key factor setting robotic process automation (RPA) software apart from more traditional types of automation is that it does what you can do. Your software robot should be able to replicate pretty much any repeatable, rule-based process.

Imagine that your task is this: when you receive a PDF file, you take the data from the file and enter it into a database. You probably don’t do this task at the exact same time every day. Even if you usually work on the same schedule, if the file arrives five minutes late, are you unable to complete the task? Of course not, and your automation platform shouldn’t be either. RPA solutions like Automate are capable of waiting until the file arrives, and then immediately starting the next step in the process.

The key to this event-driven automation is triggers, events or conditions that kick off an automated task. After time-based events, file triggers are the most popular, but for maximum flexibility, your RPA tool should have as many triggers as possible. Automate and Automate Enterprise each have 15 triggers. Here are the triggers available and how you can use them to build intelligent automation.

Schedule Trigger

Although your automation isn’t limited to scheduling based on time, this time-based trigger is the most popular trigger for a reason. It is a simple way to launch a task on a certain day or at a certain time. You can also specify an interval, like every five days. This is a useful way to automate a monitoring task. For example, set the schedule trigger to check the contents of an email inbox once every second.

File System Trigger

This is the second-most popular trigger. The file system trigger kicks off a task when one or more files are added, modified, or deleted in the folder specified. It can also trigger a task when the number of files exceeds a specified amount, when the size of one file exceeds a specified amount, or when the total size of the monitored folder exceeds a specified amount. This is an extremely useful trigger since almost all organizations deal in moving files, and having the ability to monitor for their arrival can be a major time-saver. Without a trigger, you would probably end up building delays into the schedule to allow for a potential late file arrival. All those delays could add up to hours of wasted time.

Email Trigger

The newest Automate trigger allows you to monitor an Exchange mailbox for emails matching complex criteria. For example, filter according to the from email address, subject, attachment name, or size. When an incoming email matching your criteria is received, your task or workflow will begin executing immediately.

Database Trigger

This was a new trigger with the release of version 10, and it’s becoming increasingly popular. The database trigger launches a task when a specific operation is performed on a SQL or Oracle database. This is ideal for automated execution of database-related operations. For example, a task could start based on the entry of data into a specific table. Beyond the database trigger, there’s a lot that Automate can do to take tedious database processes off your hands.

Window Trigger

The window trigger can trigger a task when a specified window opens, closes, is focused, or loses focus. A great use of this trigger is to monitor for an error message window. If you are running an unattended environment, the error window could trigger a notification of the problem or even a process to deal with the issue.

SharePoint Trigger

Many organizations use SharePoint to organize files and enable collaboration. But who wants to spend their day navigating through SharePoint to find if a new file has been uploaded or updated? Automate can do that for you, and it can use SharePoint actions to trigger a task. Items uploaded, downloaded, checked in or out, moved, deleted, or updated can all launch a new process.

Keyboard Trigger

This is one that leaves the timing of the process up to a human operator while still saving a huge amount of time. Just tap a pre-selected key or sequence of keys to trigger a task. You can also configure this to work only when a specific application is active or has focus.

Process Trigger

The process trigger launches a task when a specified process starts, ends, or stops responding. This trigger is frequently used to monitor external applications for unexpected crashes. For example, if a certain process unexpectedly stops, a task can automatically be launched to remedy the issue or send a notification.

Service Trigger

This trigger has a similar usage to the process trigger, but for services. It triggers a task when a specified service starts, stops, pauses, resumes, or stops responding.

Event Log Trigger

This trigger launches when a certain event is added to the Windows Event Log. For example, if a log entry is generated indicating that the DNS server could not be contacted, a system administrator could be automatically notified. Read a case study about one company that keeps business running smoothly with event log monitoring and notifications.

Performance Trigger

The performance trigger launches a task when a system or process threshold such as CPU utilization or memory usage is met. It’s ideal for monitoring servers in a "back office" environment. For example, if available memory is too low, a task can automatically restart the entire system.

WMI Trigger

This trigger starts a task when a WQL (WMI Query Language) query executed on the agent machine returns true or more than 0 rows. This trigger is useful for network managers or systems administrators who want to be able to automatically run a task to resolve common problems if they occur.


This trigger launches a task when an SNMP trap is received.

Startup/Logon Trigger

The startup trigger (Automate) or logon trigger (Automate Enterprise) is used to trigger a task that needs to run when the system starts. In Automate the startup trigger fires when the task service starts or when a user logs on. In Automate Enterprise, the logon trigger only fires when a user logs on.

Idle Trigger

Sometimes it’s optimal or necessary to run a task when the machine isn’t in use. The idle trigger launches a task when no keyboard or mouse input occurs for a specified period of time.

Of course, by definition, the trigger is just the beginning. Automate robotic process automation allows you to automate an entire sequence of tasks without the need for human intervention. Not sure how to put all the pieces together in a way that benefits your business? Take some inspiration from these real life Automate customer stories


See for yourself how Automate or Automate Enterprise can benefit your organization with triggers and other features.