Process orchestration: what it is, common examples, and the benefits it provides

Process orchestration

Automating a business process end-to-end can fundamentally transform the experience you deliver to employees, clients, prospects, partners, among other key stakeholders.

And while these improved experiences can lead to the same benefits provided by streamlining individual tasks, like reducing human errors and saving time, the impact stretches much further.  

We’ll break down these additional benefits as well as share examples of how processes can work once automated entirely. But first, let’s define the concept behind end-to-end automations—process orchestration.

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What is process orchestration?

It’s the use of an automation platform to streamline a business process end-to-end. This can be accomplished by building an intelligent, multi-step automation, or by creating multiple automations capable of calling one another.

Process orchestration vs other approaches to automation

Perhaps the most common alternative—or complement—to process orchestration takes the form of task-based automations, which are either performed by custom-coded scripts or robotic process automation (RPA) software. This approach works great for specific scenarios, such as when the applications’ UIs and the nature of the tasks change infrequently; they also help organizations adopt a hyperautomation approach

However, task automations and the solutions that drive them have limitations. 

Automated tasks merely allow a process to run more efficiently. If issues exist within the process, they won’t get resolved by adding automation. Moreover, RPA tools’ software bots require time and expertise to set up and manage, especially when you’re looking to scale specific task automations (as this requires using more bots). These drawbacks might explain, at least in part, why the market for RPA software is projected to decelerate—recent research by Forrester shows that the RPA market’s growth will slow down as soon as next year.

Another common approach comes in the form of business process automation (BPA), which falls under business process management (BPM). BPA software allows you to build event-based automations, but implementing and maintaining its automations is, like RPA software, often difficult. It requires employees with certain technical expertise, and even these employees may take years to implement any automation with the platform.  

A process orchestration tool, otherwise referred to as an enterprise automation platform, neatly addresses the drawbacks of the traditional approaches mentioned above. Aside from allowing you to build end-to-end automations, the tool offers a low-code/no-code UX, which enables non-technical users to also implement and maintain automations. This, in itself, should help your team accelerate the pace at which they take automations to market as well as scale their automation production capacity.

In addition, the tool provides the capability of kickstarting an automation based on an action that occurs in another—resulting in more intelligent and impactful automations. For instance, say you have an automation around running a background check on an incoming employee. Once that process is marked as completed, another automation can get triggered to provision applications on that employee’s behalf.

For more on how process orchestration tools can help your team, you can read over the benefits section in this article.

Related: The differences between process orchestration and automation

Examples of process orchestration

Let’s explore this definition through a few common use cases:

1. Application provisioning for new hires

As a new hire joins your team, they’ll likely be eager to make a positive first impression on their colleagues. 

You can lean into this motivation and impress the new hire by giving them access to the applications they need to carry out their work on day one. 

Here’s an automation we’ve built and that you can implement to do just that:

1. Once a new hire notice* is sent out by your HRIS, the workflow gets triggered.

​​Note: We define a new hire notice as an email that gets sent out to the hiring manager, the HR team, the legal team, etc. The email notifies them of details like the new hire’s start date, employment type, and who they’ll be reporting to.

2. A customized platform bot (dubbed “HR Bot”) notifies the hiring manager that the new hire letter was delivered via a business communications platform; the message also allows them to select the apps the new hire needs, along with the access levels for each.

3. The IT team gets notified by the bot in Slack, where they can review the provisioning requests and—within the message—schedule the provisions to be completed by the beginning of the new hire’s first day.

Related: The features that come with an enterprise automation platform’s visual workflow builder

2. Employee offboarding 

By executing offboarding poorly, your organization is vulnerable to all sorts of risks. 

Former employees might take personal information, violating your employees’ and clients’ privacy; they can steal expensive equipment, costing your organization a pretty penny; and they may even try to grab confidential business documents, which if exposed externally can cause significant harm to your business.

To minimize these adverse outcomes, as well as avoid the repetitive tasks associated with offboarding each employee, you can automate the process as follows:

An example of a workflow automation for offboarding an employee

1. Once a termination event gets created in your HRIS, the workflow gets triggered.

2. An ITSM tool creates tickets around offboarding the employee.

3. These tickets include removing the employee from different groups in Active Directory and using a platform like SentinelOne to deactivate their laptop—both of which are set to be completed by the end of the employee’s last day.

3. Lead nurturing

As prospects evaluate you and your competitors, you’ll want to be aware of the exact activities they’re taking and when they’re being taken. It’s only then that can you respond with an intelligent, timely message.

Here’s how automation can alert your reps of critical lead activities as well as enable reps to act on those insights in near real-time:

1. Once someone at a target account performs an activity that denotes strong intent—such as viewing a competitor’s page in a 3rd-party software review site like G2—, the workflow gets triggered.

2. Intent Bot, another customized bot, messages the assigned rep the latest intent activities performed, as well as additional information on the account from other apps. 

A screenshot of the message Intent Bot shares with a sales rep in Slack

3. The message includes actions the rep can take to nurture that lead, where executing any simply involves the click of a button.

Related: An example of cloud-to-cloud application integration

The benefits of process orchestration 

Here are just a few reasons why process orchestration and the tool that powers it are well worth investing in:

Transformative business results 

Just from our examples alone, it’s clear that process orchestration can improve new hire productivity and retention, minimize security risks associated with offboarding employees, and increase lead conversion rates. 

When you expand this out to other processes that can be automated—from quote to cash to incident management—, the business outcome possibilities are seemingly endless.

Reliable at scale

As your organization’s applications inevitably change, the connections and automations you’ve built are unaffected. Reason being, your process orchestrations use the applications’ APIs instead of their user interfaces. 

In addition, should any part of a business process get modified over time, your process orchestration platform can let you make the appropriate changes within a few minutes.

Related: The benefits of using application connectors

Low-code/no-code approach 

There’s no longer a need to rely on developers and IT to build process orchestrations. Using a process orchestration tool, your business teams can integrate the apps they work in and automate the processes they’re impacted by without having to write a line of code; IT, meanwhile, can still control the security and governance behind these efforts.

Pre-built connectors and automation templates

Using a process orchestration platform, you can access application connectors—i.e. pre-built connections to applications and databases that are supported by a 3rd party—to build integrations quickly and easily. Moreover, you can access their wide selection of automation templates to help your team brainstorm possible automations, as well as implement any with minimal customizations.

Single platform for integration and automation

There’s a wide selection of integration and automation tools on the market, from robotic process automation (RPA) software to business process management (BPM) tools. While these tools often promise to guide your organization towards achieving digital transformation, they fail to account for both integrations AND process orchestrations. A process orchestration software not only offers both, but also allows you to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence-based technologies while building your automations.

Related: How to break down data silos

Use Workato as your process orchestration platform

Workato, the leader in enterprise automation, offers all of the benefits highlighted above—along with many others. This includes enterprise-grade security and governance features, like role-based access control and activity audit logs. And it includes Workbot, a customizable platform bot that lets employees access data and functionality from their apps without leaving their business communications platform.

To learn how Workato can optimize and transform your organization’s processes, you can schedule a demo with one of our automation experts.

Process orchestration FAQ

In case you still have questions on process orchestration, we’ll address a few commonly-asked ones below.

How does process automation contrast with process orchestration?

Process automation involves automating a specific workflow end-to-end. Process orchestration offers this functionality and lets you link automated processes together, allowing you to build even more powerful automations. You can access this orchestration capability in Workato by using Recipe Functions.

Is there a difference between process orchestration tools and process orchestration software?

The two terms are often used interchangeably and, for all intents and purposes, mean the same thing.

What are the differences between process orchestration and business process management (BPM)?

Business process management is a discipline that includes specific types of software for building automations, such as process mapping tools and business process automation software. A process orchestration provider, meanwhile, lets you both build individual automations and “orchestrate” them so that they can work off of one another effectively.

About the author
Jon Gitlin Content Strategist @ Workato
Jon Gitlin is the Managing Editor of The Connector, where you can get the latest news on Workato and uncover tips and frameworks for implementing powerful integrations and automations. In his free time, he loves to run outside, watch soccer (er...football) matches, and explore local restaurants.