Enterprises need to respond quickly to changes in customer requirements and operating environments. Traditional development approaches involve skilled developers and IT practitioners writing complex code, with all rules and actions manually formulated. With such an approach, there is an apparent business-IT disconnect. Low-code automation bridges this gap by enabling business and IT functions to describe business requirements by visualization (i.e., process is the visual language).
A low-code process automation platform offers visual development tools that enable both skilled and citizen developers to analyze, model, optimize, and automate business processes. In particular, its drag-and-drop interface enables citizen developers to incorporate changes in processes and deploy them rapidly without needing to write complex code. When consumed as a cloud-native platform as a service (PaaS), users can experience several benefits, including better scalability and auto-scaling, high availability (HA), improved security and compliance, and continuous delivery and instant deployment.
2. Low-Code Process Automation PaaS
The low-code process automation tools market has evolved from a mix of adjacent software markets, including intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS), low-code application platforms (LCAPs), and robotic process automation (RPA). A similar thought process is involved in defining this convergence as digital process automation (DPA). For DPA, traditional business process management (BPM) tools used for handling complex, long-running processes were augmented with rules and decisioning capabilities for conditional logic, RPA for task automation, and AI/ML capabilities for content intelligence.
A low-code process automation platform provides a visual development approach for skilled and citizen developers to analyze, model, and automate end-to-end processes. Process modeling involves creating process diagrams that provide information on individual steps within an end-to-end process. This view can be used to identify areas for process improvement and achieve optimum efficiency. Process simulation tests various process versions created to drive improvement and identify the version that would deliver optimum efficiency/results.
Process mining has a broader purview to discover, analyze, and monitor end-to-end processes and sub-processes using event logs from information systems. For process mining, a process is a sequence of events comprising individual process steps. Data collected from process mining can be used to run process simulations (for example, using a process modeling and optimization tool). Process automation involves using software to automate manual tasks end-to-end to orchestrate people, applications, devices, and data across the enterprise.
A low-code automation platform gathers historical and real-time process data to provide insight into process performance in KPIs (key performance indicators). With an analytics dashboard, users can identify bottlenecks, monitor performance and service levels, and incorporate changes in the process. A low-code process automation PaaS should ideally offer all these features and capabilities.
3. Benefits of a Low-Code Process Automation PaaS
When using a low-code process automation PaaS, there is a shift from a CapEx to an OpEx model; there are no ongoing costs for infrastructure, maintenance, and upgrades. Compared to on-premises deployment, PaaS does not require extensive time and effort to set up, delivers faster time-to-value, and gives users access to new features via managed upgrades. Moreover, a cloud-native PaaS offers better performance than a cloud-hosted solution because the underlying stack (e.g., infrastructure and application development framework) is optimized for developing and rapidly scaling cloud-native applications. PaaS offers built-in redundancy and failover, and high uptime with SLAs (service-level agreements). The key benefits of a low-code process automation platform include:
- Ease of use: Visual modeling and drag-and-drop features can be used by citizen developers to visually map out processes and automate. There is no need for writing complex code, and the UX is compelling for citizen developers.
- Agility: A drag-and-drop interface allows citizen developers to incorporate process changes and deploy them quickly to respond faster to changing business and customer requirements.
- Cost of ownership: Training cost is reduced; citizen developers can get started without developing significant development skills. When consumed as a PaaS, the benefits of cloud economics apply, with no ongoing costs for infrastructure, maintenance, and upgrades.
- Time to value: Tools driving user productivity, a compelling UX, and template-driven approach to building and automating process applications contribute toward faster time to value.
- Better collaboration: A low-code approach drives business-IT collaboration, as process is the visual language, and business requirements are described via visualization. Different teams can share information, assign tasks, and view data via a centralized platform.
PaaS is a cloud computing service enabling users to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining infrastructure. Cloud-native PaaS offers an integrated stack (e.g., infrastructure and application development framework) optimized for developing and rapidly scaling cloud-native applications. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is a cloud service wherein a third party (IaaS vendor) offers on-demand infrastructure services (e.g., servers, storage, and networking) on a pay-as-you-go basis, delivered via the cloud and accessed using the internet.
Benefits of Bizagi PaaS
Below are the key benefits of consuming low-code process automation capabilities as a PaaS. These are specific to the value proposition of Bizagi PaaS, consumed as a cloud-native PaaS exploiting Microsoft Azure App Service and other Azure services.
- Low-code process automation: With Bizagi PaaS, a process can be converted to a model-driven application, and a significant share of process steps/tasks can then be automated. Visual development tools enable skilled and citizen developers to analyze, design, optimize, and automate business processes without writing complex code.
- Native Azure PaaS vs. virtual machines (VMs): Bizagi’s cloud-native PaaS offers automatic OS upgrades for the infrastructure, and there is no need for hardening and patch management. It provides better scalability and auto-scaling; instant deployment and continuous delivery are other benefits. PaaS offers a fully managed solution versus the proposition of customer-managed code with containers, where the time and effort spent managing deployments fails to deliver any business value.
- Cloud-native PaaS vs. on-premises deployment: With a cloud-native PaaS, users can shift from a CapEx to an OpEx model, and there are no ongoing costs for infrastructure, maintenance, and upgrades. The ability to scale up and down per use case requirements makes the PaaS model more suitable for transformation and innovation initiatives.
- Integration and orchestration: The process automation PaaS should support easy integration with various applications and data sources using pre-built connectors/APIs. There is product-level integration between RPA, low-code process automation, and AI/ML capabilities. The broader objective is to provide an orchestration layer across people, processes, applications, data, and RPA bots.
- Consumption-based pricing: Bizagi offers a unique consumption-based pricing model, owing to its cloud-native implementation where organizations are charged based on usage. There is no restriction on the number of users and applications covered under the subscription.
- Reliability and security: Bizagi PaaS offers high availability (HA) and uptime; there is also provision for built-in redundancy and failover. Data encryption at rest and in transit, data isolation, security and access controls, audit tracking, logging, continuous monitoring, and regulatory compliance are some of the key data security and privacy features. Bizagi complies with HIPAA, GDPR, FedRAMP, and ISO 27001 mandates.
Takeda: Migrating from Bizagi On-Premises Solution to PaaS
Takeda is a global biopharmaceutical company acquired by Shire in 2019. Takeda was using Bizagi’s on-premises solution and had a global IT strategy of “unleashing the power of data and digital.” As part of this strategy, Takeda’s applications moved to the cloud, and most of Takeda-operated data centers were closed. To consolidate Takeda and Shire’s data and digital operations, and scale operations while adhering to strict regulations, Takeda migrated from Bizagi’s on-premises solution to Bizagi PaaS.
Takeda had reached the limit (5,000 employees across the globe) for users accessing the GEARS (global engagements and activities request system) application on Bizagi’s on-premises license. So, Takeda’s internal audit team migrated to Bizagi PaaS instead of a lift and shift to AWS Cloud because the Bizagi PaaS model was better aligned with the business requirements and future growth plans. The migration exercise took four months. With Takeda’s GEARS application running on Bizagi, PaaS can now be accessed by well over 5,000 employees and serves as a key source system for the transparency and disclosure mandates. The migration involved 10 GB of data previously hosted on a database in Germany and over 200 GB of documents for process audits and documentation.
Learn more about Takeda and its engagement with Bizagi.
It is the responsibility of enterprise IT leadership to ensure that the security features and capabilities offered by the vendor are properly configured and appropriate security controls allow access to various applications. Enterprise IT leadership should ensure that mechanisms (controls and policies) will safeguard against ungoverned proliferation of “shadow IT,” especially given the involvement of citizen developers. Low-code process automation platforms, such as Bizagi PaaS, provide a standardized approach to process modeling and automation, with IT having an understanding that best practices are followed on an approved secure platform for process automation. IT can set security standards for applications and specify which features will be available to the users before citizen developers start using the platform.
Bizagi Spark is a three-step, agile project management framework developed using knowledge and best practices from hundreds of process automation projects delivered across various vertical industries. The first step, Energize, involves a QuickStart focused on demonstrating value from “quick wins” in the first seven weeks. It involves selecting the first process for automation using Bizagi’s process assessment tool that evaluates candidate processes on three parameters: business impact, process maturity, and complexity.
The second step, Empower, leverages OnTarget Methodology and builds on the results of QuickStart; it aims to deliver the second, more sophisticated, process automation within 16 weeks. The project setup phase involves knowledge transfer of best practices. Correct project initiation helps ensure that all key elements (e.g., resources, project plan, standards, and roles) are well coordinated to meet business requirements. A specific training plan is developed based on the outcome of skills assessment analysis.
The third step, Expand, involves the knowledge and tools needed to establish an Automation Center of Excellence (COE). Key objectives include aligning the process automation roadmap to strategic drivers, mapping Bizagi to enterprise architecture, defining BPM best practices, and measuring performance of process automation initiatives.
4. Solution Profile: Bizagi PaaS
Bizagi offers a cloud-native platform (Bizagi PaaS) for low-code process automation. It caters to the requirements of a range of users: citizen developers, power users, and developers. Bizagi Modeler is a free tool for collaboration, process modeling, and optimization. It enables users to create and document business processes in a cloud repository, gain visibility into individual process steps, and identify process improvement/optimization opportunities. The main use case for Bizagi Modeler is process automation.
Bizagi Studio enables users to convert their process models into process applications and workflows that can be executed. Bizagi Studio’s wizard-driven approach allows users to develop a new process application in just seven steps. In the context of process applications, Bizagi Studio can define data models and UI, integrate with existing IT systems/applications/data sources using pre-built connectors, and define the process logic. It is suitable for co-developing process applications in a distributed team environment. Bizagi offers native connectors to UiPath, Automation Anywhere, and Blue Prism RPA solutions for task automation. In this case, RPA bots are used for automating repetitive, mundane tasks, while Bizagi orchestrates process automation.
Bizagi’s low-code process automation platform offers an orchestration layer across existing applications/systems and data sources to remove silos at people, applications, devices, and data levels. The automation platform uses rich forms, business rules, and integrations created in Bizagi Studio to facilitate effective orchestration, while the recently added App Designer enables the creation of contextualized experiences by persona.
Bizagi PaaS provides users with the flexibility to switch between no-code, low-code, and expert modes according to their level of expertise and coding needs. It runs natively in the Microsoft Azure App Service (i.e., cloud-native PaaS) instead of a VM environment. This provision allows users and organizations to exploit the full potential of the cloud and scale up and down to maintain optimum performance.
Bizagi PaaS consumed as a cloud-native PaaS offers better scalability and auto-scaling, including vertical and horizontal scaling, without a need to redeploy. While a VM environment requires hardening and patch management, cloud-native PaaS offers automatic OS upgrades for the infrastructure layer. As in the case of Takeda, Bizagi cloud-native PaaS supports wider user access while maintaining control to protect sensitive information against unauthorized access. There is provision for actual continuous delivery and instant deployment.
Public cloud is the default option for the Bizagi PaaS offering. Bizagi PaaS offers an option of a virtual private cloud (VPC) for customers with specific needs, allowing each customer access to an isolated environment. Separate resources and data isolation is key for delivering predictable performance and meeting regulatory compliance requirements. Bizagi PaaS leverages Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) for better response times and, ultimately, improved UX.
5. Analyst’s Take
Low-code process automation platforms are required to achieve greater agility in responding to customer and business requirement changes. Visual modeling, a compelling UX, and drag-and-drop features lower the barrier to use for citizen developers. However, low-code process automation platforms are also useful for professional developers, as they can develop process applications faster, incorporate changes, and deploy rapidly to deliver innovation with a lower effort. The whole idea of providing a lifecycle approach for modeling, optimizing, and automating end-to-end processes is a significant improvement over traditional approaches that require complex code development and where rapid iteration is a cumbersome process.
PaaS abstracts the complexity of architecting infrastructure and middleware for the users. Professional and citizen developers can then focus on realizing the vision of desired process applications and automation. Cloud-native PaaS offers noteworthy performance benefits, as it is optimized for developing and rapidly scaling cloud-native applications. With Bizagi PaaS running natively in the Microsoft Azure App Service, organizations can realize significant benefits from a cloud-native PaaS, especially compared to the proposition of deploying on VMs or on-premises. The Bizagi low-code automation platform is aimed at enabling organizations to achieve greater agility and innovate faster in response to changes in customer and business requirements. Cloud-native PaaS with consumption-based pricing offers a good price-performance proposition.
6. About Bizagi
Bizagi’s industry-leading platform for low-code process automation connects people, applications, robots, and information. Bizagi’s cloud-native platform enables true collaboration between business and IT, delivering faster adoption and success. Fueled by a community of millions of users, Bizagi powers over 400 enterprises worldwide including Adidas, Unilever, DHL, and Bancolombia. For more information visit https://www.bizagi.com.
7. About Saurabh Sharma
Saurabh has over 15 years of experience as a software developer, consultant, industry analyst, and product & GTM strategy leader. He has advised enterprise IT leaders on integration/middleware (iPaaS, API management, hybrid integration), cloud platforms (PaaS), process automation, digital transformation, and BPM solutions and their implementation. As an industry analyst and consultant, he has consulted with business and IT leaders across different vertical industries, including healthcare, banking, financial services, and insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and public sector organizations. Recently, he led product & GTM strategy for software vendors and played a key role in the productization and commercialization of new SaaS products.
8. About GigaOm
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