INSIGHT

Accounts Payable Digitalization & Automation – Blue Prism Digital Workforce

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Accounts Payable Digitalization & Automation – Blue Prism Digital Workforce

For quite a few years now, finance and accounting functions have counterintuitively become more people-oriented and paper-centric, even with the rapid progression of technology over the last two decades. For any business organization, keeping pace with competitors is a challenge. Hence, businesses have to look to technologies that can streamline financial workflows so that a lot of the work can be done more efficiently – saving time, space, and money.

The Accounts Payable Process is one such finance process that consumes a lot of people and involves immense paperwork. This manual process not only causes delays in payment to vendors but also induces inevitable errors. As there is a human workforce involved, the cost of the process is relatively high.

RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is a technology that can take care of tasks that are defined by pre-determined rules, are repetitive, and have a standard operating procedure (SOP). When humans perform these tasks, there are chances of errors, reduced speed, and lower accuracy.

Blue Prism is one of the fastest-growing robotic process automation tools in the market, providing a robust solution to the prevailing problems in the AP Process.

How MSRCOSMOS delivered success by automating AP Process using Blue Prism

The Challenge

An US based multi-brand corporation which has operations across the globe struggled to deal with thousands of monthly invoices for the Account Payable Process. A huge amount of mundane manual effort was involved in the AP Process. The corporation was looking for a solution that could standardize and optimize the AP Process. They wanted to improve customer service by reducing payment delays and manual efforts.

Problem identification

Invoice Segregation, Invoice Processing, Cost Feeds to ERPs were the use-cases that were identified by MSRCosmos to address the problems in the AP Process using Blue Prism Robotic Process Automation.

Delivered Solution

MSRCosmos applied its cutting-edge Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation skills to solve the AP business process challenge. Using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, MSRCosmos developed in-house engines that could identify and segregate various invoices downloaded from vendor websites and some emails. Once the invoices were downloaded, the machine learning algorithm read all the costs and other attributes from invoices and queued it for the Blue Prism tool.

The Blue Prism tool processed the information and cached it to enter the data into the Oracle ERP system. Once the data was automatically entered, the AP Process completed and submitted to the Accounts team for processing the payments to respective vendors.

Key Outcomes

The automation solution benefited the organization in multiple ways.

  • Swift Payments: Automation made invoices readily available to the customers who could then pay promptly and reduce payment delays. Automation also brought speed to invoicing.
  • Reduced Incidence of Errors: Automation brought down human process errors leading to the lowering of cost with happier customers.
blueprism
  • Standardized Processes: Automating accounts payable standardized the entire process, thereby making work simpler. The workload for the collection manager became more manageable, and collections were more streamlined.

 

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Digital Monitoring and Maintenance Operations

Digital Monitoring and Maintenance

Critical infrastructure has never been important in history than it is right now. As we experience and work through global pandemic, we still need shipyards and warehouses to keep supply chains running. We need data and network centers to keep communication lines open and we need power plants and refineries to keep the whole machine running.

Due to the vital importance of these sites, they have traditionally been staffed by professionals trained to manage operations, security, maintenance, and all other aspects of keeping the facility running. Over the years, however, we’ve learned that adding more humans does not necessarily guarantee operation. While humans excel in creative and abstract thoughts, they also bring a certain level of inconsistency and imperfection which can cause issues. For example, In the case of datacenters, more than 70% of all data center outages are caused by human error and not by a fault in the infrastructure design. Furthermore, “mistakes” that led to an outage can often be traced to a poor decision by senior management.

The obvious solution in overcoming human inconsistency and ensure constant operation of critical facilities is to automate tasks using the power of software. However, this is difficult to do using traditional software techniques of requirements documents, coding, bug fixing and version control. Injecting a traditional software development project into an already complex operation needlessly increases risk and is simply not feasible.

Digital Monitoring and Maintenance Operations

A highly feasible and proven solution is to use ‘Digital Workers’. Digital Workers are software entities, powered by artificial intelligence, which can be trained directly by subject matter experts. Digital Workers can execute work in a human-like manner, and do not take breaks, get sick, or execute inconsistently. Security experts can train Digital Workers to recognize authorized personnel and sound alarms for unauthorized events. Operations experts can train Digital Workers to monitor conditions via the Building Management System and take appropriate action if conditions stray outside of acceptable parameters.

Digital Workers are very beneficial, with their 24 x 7 dedicated focus, rule-based / AI driven correlation to identify true conditions (For Example: Physical threat versus high humidity / foggy conditions blocking camera view) to discern, decide and perform necessary steps / actions without needing any human intervention.

The typical scenarios/use cases involving Digital Workers for monitoring and maintenance include:

Scenarios Digital Worker Use cases Digital Worker Tasks
Datacenters / Manufacturing Plants / Commercial Buildings / Warehouses / Shipyards /Government Offices & Secure sites
Electrical equipment in Captive Power Generation Plants
Electrical equipment monitoring (PDU, HVAC, CARC Units, Generators) Equipment monitoring
  • Equipment / Environmental attributes monitoring & correlation (Temp, humidity, Delta T)
  • Alerts / notifications / Actions
  • Maintenance decisions
Equipment maintenance validation Maintenance validation / verification
  • Human presence checks
  • Visual monitoring / analytics of human maintenance actions / tasks
Manufacturing equipment
Production monitoring Production batch monitoring
  • Detect production defects
Production equipment monitoring Equipment monitoring
  • Equipment / Environmental attributes monitoring & correlation (Temp, humidity, Delta T)
  • Alerts / notifications
  • Maintenance decisions
Equipment maintenance validation Maintenance validation / verification
  • Human presence checks
  • Video analytics to monitor human maintenance tasks
Building / Site Physical Security
Site security and alerting Sleeping guard
  • Video analytics to monitor guards
External Threat detection
Facial Recognition
  • Facial recognition for employees / authorized entry permits
Entry / Exit door monitoring
  • Check for authorized entries
  • Check for Tailgating
Monitoring No-human zones
  • Detect and Alert human presence in No-human zones inside / outside
Monitoring No-take zones
  • Detect and Alert human presence in No-take zones inside / outside
Vehicle movement / number plate recognition
  • Video analytics to detect suspicious vehicle movement within the facility
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Transforming HR Landscape with Blue Prism’s Digital Workforce

Digital Workforce

The human resources (HR) plays a pivotal role in creating, reinforcing & transforming the culture in any given organization. Right from recruiting/ onboarding/running payrolls/managing performances/training & development to reinforcing the core values of the business, these essential elements of business culture are covered by “HR”.

Most of the organizations emphasize on placing the HR Team in a defensive position as many things might possibly go wrong if someone is not paying required attention toward the following matters:

  • Hiring Process (Onboarding & Offboarding the resources)
  • Compensation (providing competitive benefits and salaries to attract and retain top talent)
  • Employee morale (motivating employees, maintaining culture, and providing training)
  • Employee behavior (towards each other and as representatives of the organization)

About Blue Prism

Blue Prism is one of the most renowned & fastest growing Robotic Process Automation tools in the IT market today. Blue Prism now offers a new solution called “Digital Workforce” which not only reduces costs but also automates manual or repetitive activities of the human workforce & re-assign them to more strategic, high-value tasks.

In the HR scenario, mundane tasks such as Onboarding & Offboarding of resources in an organization can be taken care of by the Blue Prism Digital Worker. This gives human resources ample time to emphasize more on enhancing the employee experience & making HR more “human”.

HR Automation

Image Source Designed by upklyak / Freepik

How MSRCosmos shaped the HR automation for one of its customers with help of Blue Prism

The Challenge

A renowned global data center with over 40 data centers operating under its umbrella in 3 continents & 30+ markets has reached MSRCOSMOS. They wanted to automate a part of their HR Process that could change the way they handled the Onboarding & Offboarding process of their employees. The current HR process was carried out from Headquarters, for all the employees from all three continents.

MSRCOSMOS identified use-cases such as – smooth & fast onboarding, assigning system to a user, providing access badge & assigning software licenses to the users, and commenced work using the Blue Prism robotic process automation (RPA) solution to improve the process.

The Solution

MSRCOSMOS applied its automation skills to solve the HR challenge. MSRCOSMOS carried out the end-to-end implementation of the solution using the Blue Prism robotic process automation tool. From smooth & fast onboarding, assigning system to a user, providing access badge to assigning software licenses to users, all were seamlessly automated with the help of the HR team, MSRCOSMOS consultants & respective application owners.

Key Outcomes

The automation solution has helped the HR team in their daily Onboarding & Offboarding activities.

  • It reduced the human workload
  • Redeployed HR into other strategic roles in the company which enhanced the employee experience
  • Improved turn round time of the HR process which simplified work for other departments that relied on them.
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Driving Maximum Value Out Of SAP To Azure Migration

Back with another topic for the podcast. Raghavendra Prabhu (Prabhu) ( Global Head – Sales & Solutions) speaks on – Driving Maximum Value Out Of SAP To Azure Migration.

The COVID-19 outbreak has generated enough hurdles for the IT industry and created a lag in the way it functions. Considering these uncertainties of the times, Prabhu states a few pragmatic approaches to help customers derive maximum value out of technology projects, especially the migration of SAP to Azure.

He even asserts, how since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, MSRCOSMOS has been responding to customers need through a compelling offer of Free POC / Pilot migration of SAP infrastructure to Azure. Several customers have leveraged the offer to accelerate their cloud migration decisions.

Transcript of the Podcast: –

Question: During this time of uncertainty, what would be your suggestion to derive minimum value out of technology projects, especially migration of SAP to Azure?
Answer: In the current challenging time due to covid-19 outbreak, we’ve been hearing customers shares concerns regarding their critical applications and infrastructure. Several customers have experienced unexpected challenges when executing disaster recovery and business continuity plan for their critical applications such as SAP. And it was very important for these customers to ensure these applications started despite the covid-19 issues that they were facing. But for many customers, not having a DR and DC plan for their applications and data was a rude awakening. It is more important today than ever before for customers to strengthen their critical applications, data and infrastructure.

Cloud and more specifically Azure offers a great platform and a huge opportunity for customers to accelerate their plans to upgrade and migrate SAP applications. The power of Azure’s data and AI services delivered deep insights from SAP data faster and easier than the traditional tools and technologies. MSR has been championing SAP immigration effort for customers for over five years now. Since the onset of covid-19 outbreak MSRCosmos has been responding to customers need through a compelling offer of free PEOC or pilot migration of SAP infrastructure to Azure.

We believe that this act of us helped customers to evaluate cloud for their critical applications and IT needs. We have seen several customers leverage the offer to accelerate the cloud migration decisions.

End of podcast transcript.

Talk to us: +1 925 399 4218 or Email: info@msrcosmos.com.

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Implementation Challenges And Solutions To Cloud-Migration

Raghavendra Prabhu (Prabhu) (Global Head – Sales & Solutions) takes up yet another important topic in the podcast –
From the multiple engagements MSRCosmos has executed, he describes a few best practices on:
1. What should a client’s priority be when it comes to cloud-migration strategies?
2. Top 3 implementation challenges and solutions to cloud-migration

Furthermore, he simplifies a few key findings along with some recommendations to help customers take informed decision on their cloud journey, including applications and services they wish to prioritize.

From Legacy to Cloud: MSRCosmos delivers the infrastructure and resources to support enterprise agility.

Transcript of the Podcast: –

Question: What should a client’s priority be when it comes to cloud-migration strategies?

Answer: In my opinion, there is no perfect strategy. It is the cloud experience and confidence that matters. However, in my opinion, customers should think about Cloud as a vehicle for their Digital Innovations, resulting in business transformation beyond cost considerations while evaluating migration of a specific set of applications.
It is a well-known fact that digital transformation has the potential to deliver on strategic goals for organizations such as improved revenues and profitability, new business models and customer partner or employee satisfaction, where customers might have an immediate cloud need for their infrastructure migration. Having the foresight about their IT and transformation needs in the future. Help in making the right decision on cloud providers.

MSRCosmos has been involved in helping over 50 customers across the globe migrate their applications and data center infrastructure to cloud. In most migrations we have noticed a few common challenges due to the nature of evolution of infrastructure and applications that are consider for migration.

Issue 1:
The number one issue that we’ve noticed is missing information or knowledge regarding their application landscape configuration and dependencies between the applications.
Issue 2:
Number two is application affinity to underlying infrastructure or server hardware or network. We are addressing some of these issues with our experience, competencies and tools. MSRCosmos deep knowledge and expertise on cloud infrastructure, networking applications such as SAP, Oracle, etc., and the use of tools such as Turbonomic, Cloudamize and Moveware helping clearly assessing and documenting the data center infrastructure application landscapes and their dependencies.
Our comprehensive cloud assessment report covers application infrastructure landscape, future state deployment architecture, cloud cost and migration recommendations to help customer prepare for their cloud journey.

End of podcast transcript.

From Legacy to Cloud: MSRCosmos delivers the infrastructure and resources to support enterprise agility.+If you want to know more about our services, please do get in touch with us.

Talk to us: +1 925 399 4218 or Email: info@msrcosmos.com.

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Web Application Migration to Azure – Implementation, Benefits and Use case

Objective

We might have one or more applications that run in a server in your own data center, or on your computer. And we might want to move those applications to Azure in the easiest way possible. You can move your existing application to Azure with the app service migration assistant tool. This tool is designed to help you assess and move your application to Azure.

Web Application Migration Overview

What is Web Application Migration:

Application migration is a process of moving an application program from one environment to another. Examples include migration from an on-premises enterprise server to a cloud provider’s environment or from one cloud environment to another.

Web Application Migration Goals:

Web Application Migration Implementation

  • Cost reduction
  • Robustness
  • Scalability
  • Agility

 
Goal in migration to the cloud should be much more than just cost saving. We can aim to make our system more robust and fault-tolerant. It should not capitulate with just minor non-critical errors. We should also aim to develop a scalable system.

With the cloud, our underlying hardware has become code. We have been given the flexibility to creating as many small processing systems or storage systems or N/W points as you may like. We can therefore now break down our monolithic system into many microsystems and use the flexibility of the cloud to bring in scalability.

With our system becoming robust and scalable our next goal should be agility. Once our system is robust we can think of making more changes to our system without fear of breaking it down.

High performance:

Performance means getting more out of your application. It requires you to make your system more efficient. Bottlenecks have to be removed. The cloud gives enormous flexibility to do so. As has been mentioned before the cloud allows for the hardware to be in the form of code. We can therefore easily deal with hardware-level bottlenecks.

Security:

Security is another area that has to be dealt with during cloud migration. Your goal should be to transform the security of your application. Security tends to be the most discussed topic related to the cloud. People are generally spooked with putting out data on the cloud. But moving to the cloud allows you to completely rethink your security protocols. The main service providers like AWS, azure, may have better security than on-premises systems.

Web Application Migration Benefits:

  • When an application experiencing increased traffic it is easy to scale resources on the fly to meet the increasing demand.
  • To reduce operational costs while increasing the effectiveness of IT processes.
  • Application implementation and deployment are fast. So that company can focus more on development while reducing infrastructure overhead.
  • If we would like to build a widely distributed development team. Cloud computing environments allow remotely located employees to access applications and work via the internet.
  • When we need to establish a disaster recovery system, Setting it up for an entire data center could double the cost. It also requires a complex disaster recovery plan. Cloud disaster recovery systems can be implemented much more quickly and give us much better control over our resources.
  • Tracking and upgrading underlying server software is a time consuming, yet an essential process that requires periodic and immediate upgrades. In some cases, the cloud provider will take care of this automatically. Some cloud computing models similarly handle many administrative tasks such as database backup, software upgrades, and periodic maintenance.
  • Cloud computing shifts IT expenditure to a pay-as-you-go model, which is an attractive benefit, especially for startups.

Web Application Migration Practices:

Assess the application and environment:

A successful migration project requires a thorough evaluation of the application portfolio, including its infrastructure, legacy applications and systems, and dependencies that may affect data migration. Prepare the destination server environment by considering requirements for compliance, scalability, and business practices.

Create a deployment document:

The web application may require specific server settings and dependencies, according to its complexity, version, and build. Creating a written deployment document as part of the migration plan can streamline the process and save the DevOps teams from the tediousness of discovering these requirements through trial and error.

Prepare for data migration:

Data transfer is critical to the overall success of the migration process. To begin, create a full compressed backup for file and database migration. Configure the source and destination environments to be as similar as possible, using the same folder paths, database names, and user names if the new system allows it.

Restore and configure:

Once the files and databases have been restored on the destination server, it’s time to reconfigure the application to its new server environment. Identify files related to the application configuration, and update paths and connection strings at the destination environment as needed.

Automate when possible:

Minimize disruption or possible downtime and increase the efficiency of your migration plan by automating repeated patterns whenever possible. For instance, if your organization has chosen to start small with a phased cloud migration approach, automating certain processes can facilitate future phases.

Create a test plan:

A comprehensive testing strategy is a crucial element of the migration process. Modify the local host’s file of your computer to test the application locally before going live at the destination server environment. Navigate the site as both a user and an application administrator and test all functions and features to gain a full understanding of performance.

Web Application Migration Tools:

  • App service migration assistant
  • Visual studio

Web Application Migration Implementation

Figure 1   web application migration process

Analysis:

  • Analyze on-premise app architecture
  • External/Internal application dependence
  • Choose a suitable cloud service (PaaS/IaaS)
  • Choose suitable storage options e.g Azure SQL, Table, Queue, etc.

 
App Migration:

  • Migrate your application to the cloud
  • Modify the source code according to the recommendations
  • Prepare your app to port to the Azure cloud.

 
Storage Migration:

  • Analyze existing database
  • Prepare your current DB to migrate to the cloud.
  • Migrate your SQL store to Azure SQL or SQL Server on VM

 
Testing:

  • Test scalability and performance
  • Fix any issues found
  • Testing application on azure

 
Monitor and Decommission:

  • Monitor your application
  • Setup app/DB backup and recovery
  • DE-commission your on-premise application

Understanding Current Situation:

MSRCosmos will engage in conversation with the respective teams in the organization and assess the current capabilities and the tools used. This is done with the help of a questionnaire that will be shared with stakeholders. A properly filled up questionnaire will give a good understanding of the current setup at the customer organization.

Finalising The Web Application Migration Objectives:

MSRCosmos with the help of stakeholders will finalize the objectives of the implementation and also an appropriate timeline for achieving those objectives.

Documentation of Existing Processes:

The current processes, tools, and systems used by the customer will be documented if no such document exists already with the customer.

Baseline Measurement:

Before starting the project, some measurements to indicate the current tools and capabilities will be noted down. This measurement will be compared after the engagement is completed.

Ideal End State:

After all the analyses are done and processed, the ideal end state from a migration standpoint will be documented and presented. This will include the process and tools that will fit the customer requirement.

Use Case Scenarios

Client
One of the world’s leading manufacturer of wire rope
Business Challenge

Client’s application was built using ReactJS for frontend, NodeJS, and ExpressJS for backend development. For database, they are using the Microsoft SQL Server. For frontend application deployment client is using the Apache2 Server and for backend service deployment client is using node server in a Linux Virtual machine. The current system lacked the capability to scale on-demand and control system downtime. It was not supporting the latest security and high capacity infrastructure standards.

Therefore, the client aimed at transitioning their legacy system to Azure via PaaS platform. They wanted to revamp the system to offer a more advanced and secure platform to their customers. The other key reasons that strengthened their decision to choose PaaS migration via Azure was to reduce maintenance requirements, maximize performance, minimize costs, achieve zero downtime, and zero data loss.

What MSRCosmos Proposed And Implemented:

  • MSRCosmos team conducted a detailed study that focused on understanding the legacy system architecture and deployment setup. The study helped in abstracting the complexity of the existing system and in re-engineering the system architecture that is compatible with cloud infrastructure.
  • Azure PaaS platform is cost-effective and flexible and delivers resilience, performance, security required to host applications. Deploying the legacy system using Azure PaaS platform reduces the required physical infrastructure and provides zero downtime.
  • The existing system lacked the capability to cope, perform, and handle increased workload. This challenge was achieved by reconfiguring the web and database servers that were handling the legacy systems.
  • We have created development, QA, production environments.
  • In the development environment, we have created an app service (B2:1) to run the application.
  • In the development environment we have created Azure SQL database (Standard S1).
  • In the QA environment we have created an app service (B2:1) to run the application.
  • In the QA environment we have created Azure SQL database (Standard S1).
  • In the production environment we have created an app service (P2: V2) to run the application.
  • In the production environment we have created an app service (B1:1) to run the jobs.
  • In the production environment we have created Azure SQL database (Standard S1).
  • In the production environment we have created General-purpose v1 account for storage.
  • Setup app/DB backup and recovery
  • DE-commission your on-premise application

 
On-premise environment:

  • Application is built with spring boot and angular, angular is deployed in Apache web server. Spring boot application was deployed in tomcat server. It can be accessed from the intranet and internet.
  • The application relies on Microsoft Active Directory services for authentication.
  • Application uses a standard Microsoft SQL Server 2019 database for storing application data.
  • Application stores the images uploaded to or created from the application using network file storage. Application is hosted on two instances.

Figure 2 on-premises environment architecture

Azure Cloud Environment:

  • Web Applications are mapped to cloud components (web roles).
  • Active directory authentication replaced with ACS 2.0 Passive federation with ADFS (Active Directory Passive Federation).
  • Azure cache in-role is used for session state.
  • Components that persist data onto disk are re-written to persist into Windows Azure Storage (Blob).
  • Azure VPN is used to provide interaction between cloud applications and on-premises databases.
  • Azure diagnostics has been enabled for diagnostics support.
  • Application uses an Azure SQL Server database for storing application data.

Web Application migration from on-premises to azure app services:

App Services:

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud enabled enterprise applications.

Azure app service is a fully managed Webhosting service for building web apps, mobile backends, and RESTful APIs. From small websites to globally scaled web applications, we have the pricing and performance options and that fit your needs.

Tools:

Azure app service migration assistant tool is used to migrate the on-premises web application to azure app services.

Steps to be followed:

  • Download and install app service migration assistant
  • Select the local server (tomcat or iis) and application you want to migrate.
  • Provide the resource group name, destination site name, app service plan, and region.

Figure 4 web app migration using app service migration assistant

Database migration from on-premises to Azure SQL:

Azure SQL Database is the intelligent, scalable, relational database service built for the cloud. It is evergreen and always up to date, with AI-powered and automated features that optimize performance and durability for you. Serverless compute Hyperscale storage options automatically scale resources on-demand, so you can focus on building new applications without worrying about storage size or resource management.

Tools:

We can migrate the on-premises database to azure using Azure migrate assessment tool and Azure migrate migration tool.
These tools first discover the database, assess the database, and migrate the database.
 
Steps to be followed:

  • Download and install database migration assistant for assessment and migration.
  • Create an Azure SQL Server in the Azure portal.
  • For assessment enter the on-premises SQL server name and select the authentication type and select the database you want to migrate.
  • Upload the assessment report to Azure portal.
  • For migration enter the on-premise SQL server name and select the authentication type and database we want to migrate.

Figure 5 database migration using DMA

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