As COVID-19 (coronavirus) reaches all facets of life, industries, such as healthcare, life sciences, and the public sector, are finding new ways to defend against the spread of the virus and mitigate the impact that could have long-term effects on businesses and the economy.
QC Technology Decisions Inc. can connect you with partners that provide automation solutions to support our customers in navigating these unforeseen challenges.
The economy is taking massive blows, with companies’ ability to function being affected dramatically across a wide range of industries, from tourism and travel, to retail, and logistics, companies are suffering the onslaught of this pandemic.
However, compared to the previous outbreaks, the world is better prepared to address a global healthcare crisis today, there is technology ready and available that can be leveraged to help organizations minimize losses and also reduce the spread of diseases like COVID-19.
How does automaton help in times of Crisis?
Organizations that implement automation will have an easier time dealing with all the nuances of setting up remote work, keep up with similar levels of productivity by relying on automated back office activities, helping overwhelmed customer support staff with attended automation or front office bots, catering to the increase or decrease of supply chain demand, and many other ways that can help them weather these turbulent times with the help of automated business processes.
Here are just a few examples of how automation has been helping during this pandemic:
The need for automation in health care is critical
Hospitals and Clinics were not ready for a pandemic and they need RPA immediately to get them through these challenging times where over 30% of staff are busy with administrative tasks instead of caring for patients.
Some automation use cases having a impact in healthcare include:
Manufacturing and customer supply chains are under significant strain!
Although sometimes invisible to the public, the world's supply chain and accounting processes are significantly overwhelmed, particularly in Health Care and Public Safety areas. This affects both the customers and suppliers! Some use cases for automation in this space are shown below.
Customer Use Cases:
Although we are still all learning on how to cope and run our businesses through this pandemic there is overwhelming evidence that RPA can indeed help organizations respond and act quickly to a variety of situations. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.
Recently we had a great opportunity to work with one of our clients who was implementing a new student information system (Infinite Campus if you’re wondering which one). If you’ve done this before, congratulations, you know what an undertaking it can be!
Our role was to develop an integration architecture that would meet their immediate needs of replacing about 20 integration points between their other systems while setting the foundation that will meet their long term needs for data warehousing, point-to-point systems integration, and data import/export. Oh, I forgot to mention our client was a school district on a tight budget!!
We’re familiar with quite a few integration platforms such as Informatica, Oracle, and IBM… each having great integration functionality; But with a hefty price tag. Microsoft also offers an enterprise class integration platform…. included with SQL Server at < $2,000 per core!! SQL Server 2012 Integration Services was our choice for our client.
At first, I think our client was a bit reluctant at the architecture because it was a bit out of their comfort zone. Most school districts simply script their integration points using what’s available to them (Perl, SQL, VB Script, Excel, Access, etc.) and don’t invest in good integration software. Moving away from the “tried and true” is always a bit difficult, but the benefits using software designed to do integration will always beat out any home-grown solution. But in the end, with some guidance and good examples, they found their feet and are now starting to see this type of architecture will pay off for them in the long run.
The main reason for our success in gaining our client’s trust (and ultimately adoption for the system) was that we were able to line up all the components and fit it into an easy to understand process. Here is what we defined for them for developing exports (data extracts) using SQL Server Integration Services.
Step 1 – Determine the Requirements
It goes without saying, don’t start a project unless you know what you need to do. The complexity any the export package will depend on how complex your transformation requirements are. Some packages can take minutes to develop, whereas others could take days. The requirements should define both the “sources” and “targets” (destination) for your export. and if you need to filter or convert data, they must define the logic (business rules) required to transform the data into the correct target format.
Step 2 – Create/Open a SSIS Project
Developing an export requires that you install SQL Data Tools (from the SQL Server installation disk) first. Once installed, you can create your project and create one or more packages. We recommended that you create a separate project for each “target” system.
Step 3 – Create a new Package and Develop the Export
The outcome of the development is going to be one or more export packages. We ended up creating a few templates for our client to get them started so they could see how to build exports in a variety of formats and destinations.
Step 4 – Test your Export
SQL Data tools includes a debugger which lets you run and debug your packages by running the package locally.
Step 5 – Deploy your SSIS Project
Once you have a working package you can use the “Deploy” option in SQL Data Tools to deploy your package to your Integration Services Catalog. If you’re not using the integration services catalog then you’re probably going to run into configuration issues down the road… so it’s highly recommended. With it, you will be able to audit all your package executions, automatically version your projects, and schedule them with confidence that they will run just like you tested
Step 6 – Schedule your Package to Run Automatically
Finally, we want to automate our exports. This is done by using the SQL Agent to schedule SSIS packages to run on a schedule you set. When you schedule these you can have SQL notify you if something goes wrong too!
Our vision is to be a leader of best practice business intelligence and information management solutions that that improve performance and communication between decision makers, administrators, employees, and the public. We deliver sustainable solutions for our clients by creating scalable designs that meet both short term (immediate) and long term requirements.
Principal consultants at QC are information experts specializing in business intelligence and enterprise information management. We are committed to providing the best service possible for our clients by offering only qualified and experienced consultants that meet their needs.
If you are interested in learning more about SQL Server Integration Services or any of our other services please contact us today!
Shane Quigley is an expert in data warehousing, business intelligence, systems analysis, and solution architecture.