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Automating Web Browser Actions with Business Process Automation Software

par Richard Schoen - HelpSystems • 05 Nov 2018

Many enterprises have repeated processes that involve interacting with a web browser, like scraping data from a website or entering information into an online form. There are a variety of tools and scripts that can accomplish browser automation, but if your business processes involve repeated website interaction, you need a reliable, scalable, solution—business process automation (BPA) software.

The Problem with Custom Scripting for Automating Website Interaction

The first impulse for IT professionals looking to automate website tasks is often custom scripting. This is risky. Custom scripts are error prone and there’s no support number to call if they fail. One expert leaving the company or a core Windows version or technology change can leave everyone else completely in the dark about how your website automation works.

Furthermore, for a growing business, scripting isn’t a scalable or affordable solution. Every new task requires additional time and resources to automate, and it can only be done by expensive technical experts. Better to use a platform with solid support resources and an interface that’s intuitive for systems administrators and accountants alike.

Web Browser Task Automation with a BPA Platform

A business process automation platform gives both IT professionals and business users a simple way to automate almost any business process. So what makes BPA a better solution than other website interaction automation tools? For one thing, website interaction isn’t the only process your company should streamline. An initial investment in BPA software will also solve the other challenges you may face, like time-consuming report compilation or a high volume of file transfers, with no extra cost. And as your business grows and you add more IT processes, those can also be quickly automated with the same software.

Read on to learn about how Automate, the business process automation platform from HelpSystems, makes automating browser tasks easy.

Automate and Getting Started with Web Browser Automation

Automating website interaction is a common Automate use case. A business needs to grab data from or enter data onto a website, and the requirements might have several steps. For example, they need to log in and download files, grab information like stock ticker symbols or other data from a screen capture, and enter it into Excel or a database. Or they need to enter an order, access a medical record, or onboard a new user. All of these interactions with a website or multiple websites can be automated with the Automate business process automation platform.

So how do you get started using Automate for automating web browser actions? The first step to automating any website interaction is to document the manual steps that the user usually takes in a step-by-step bullet list. This allows your automation experts or our automation services team to quantify the time-intensive actions that the person is currently doing. Once the user steps have been broken down on paper, the work of automating the website interaction task can begin.

Next, you will physically create a new task in the Task Builder. Normally the first step in the task is to open the web browser and navigate to the home page. Then the next website interactions can be to enter the user ID and password to log into the site. After website login, additional browser task interactions can be added to the task in the Task Builder and iteratively tested to navigate to a specific page or control (such as data entry fields, buttons, links, lists, or text), and then either enter or grab data from the selected pages. Files can also be automatically uploaded or downloaded by selecting the appropriate controls on a page. Testing website interactions can range from simple and very straightforward to semi-complex depending on whether a site uses a lot of real-time HTML, JavaScript, or CSS on their web site. Automate contains a unique task building feature that lets users drag and drop actions into the task and then easily select the browser window or controls they need to interact with.

As task development progresses you may want to add steps to the task to validate that you received all the correct data from the website, or that a file downloaded correctly. For example, a file might be given a unique name when it’s downloaded, and then the Automate task can run a file existence check or even scan the data in the file after it’s been downloaded to ensure the data is correct. Website interactivity tasks might include interactions with databases to insert and update records, with Excel files to enter or process data, or using any of the 600+ available task activities in Automate.

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