For better or worse – and perhaps like it did across all business sectors – the pandemic accelerated many of the financial services industry’s underlying trends. Overnight, almost everything was instantly propelled forward. Practices that have been holding the industry back seemingly forever – such as users’ reluctance to adopt technologies that would disrupt entrenched practices, or the way enterprises manage their resources and technology stack – suddenly shifted into high gear. Change became an urgent necessity.
Automate workflows quickly and easily with Symphony’s new Workflow Developer Kit
At Symphony, streamlining complex financial workflows is a core part of our mission, and automation is one of our most powerful tools for achieving this objective. For years, our developers as well as users throughout our community have built bots on the Symphony platform that automate individual processes or segments of workflows. These have ranged from integrations with tools like Salesforce and ServiceNow to streamlining customized client onboarding processes.
Now, our product team is making it even easier to build bots on the Symphony platform using our new Workflow Developer Kit (WDK). This powerful, easy-to-use tool enables developers to build bots by defining a workflow instead of writing code. So what does that mean for your team?
A simpler, faster way to automate workflows
The WDK simplifies the process of automation by allowing developers and other tech-savvy users to define workflows in readable, human language. Without writing a single line of code, you can build bots to quickly automate simple but repetitive manual workflows.
Bots developed with the WDK can react to events (such as a message or form received, or a user joining a room) or start activities (send a message, add a user to a room, send a form based on Symphony Elements, or update a message). In addition, the WDK can be integrated in a developer IDE and benefit from intrinsic productivity capabilities such as code completion to write syntactical, error-free workflows. Visual representations can be automatically generated and shared with non-technical personnel for a functional validation before deployment.
Our approach to low-code development
Developing these tools took into account the reality that programming languages and generic low-code or no-code platforms have pros and cons – as the complexity of the application increases, low-code platforms have the tendency to open to pro-code.
At Symphony, we first opened our platform through APIs and provided a Bot Developer Kit to ease the work of developers. The WDK is the next step in our journey to help developers to build solutions on top of our platform. It is extensible so you can define your own activities and use script or code when it is more convenient. It also fully respects Symphony’s end-to-end encryption model and runs securely on the customer’s premises.
We also want our users to keep complete control of any automations they build. This means bringing low code and open source together. Thus, the WDK is a project maintained on FINOS and is open to contributions.
Impact on the development process
In traditional development models, whether waterfall or agile, the first step is for the product team to express the customer’s needs by interviewing the business owner and writing functional specifications. Only then can the developer write the code based on the functional specifications. Once the code is written, the product owner reviews the product followed by the business owner for final sign off.
With low-code development, the previous steps can be done all at once, and centered around a single artifact: the workflow definition. This is because the business owner, the developer, and the product owner can speak the same language: a visual step-by-step representation of a workflow. All parties – including non-developer colleagues – can understand and discuss while reviewing visualizations of different workflow options, making it easy to work as a team to implement automation where needed. Further, all parties have a common understanding of how the application behaves.
The WDK also has benefits for testing and maintenance. It includes the ability to test changes live, which makes it easier to iterate on a workflow, backtrack errors and resolve issues. And, because there are no libraries to update in the future or security vulnerability issues to patch, the only artifact that needs to be maintained is the workflow itself, which can easily be adjusted as business needs change.
The workflow gallery
Part of the WDK offering is the workflow gallery, which contains real-life examples of ready-to-use financial services processes. Developers can quickly customize an existing flow to adapt it to their own company. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Examples of workflows include Content Distribution or Onboarding process. The gallery of workflows is also maintained on FINOS, is open to contributions, and will be expanded continuously.
An example of automation: Client Onboarding
When a new client is onboarded, it’s necessary to create a dedicated chatroom and request relevant documents based on the specifications of the client relationship. Typically, at least some of this process is manual to ensure the correct legal entity is onboarded.
If the process is automated, a request can be made to onboard a new client via a dedicated form, clarifying the specific country and financial product. The GLEIF public API is automatically called to retrieve the legal information and, if found, a dedicated chatroom is created.
This process has been described as a simple workflow with seven steps, and took three hours to be finalized and validated via the WDK. The same automation using classic development methods would likely take several days in order to define the specifications, write the code and functional tests, and finalize the validation.
Client Onboarding Workflow Example
The Workflow Development Kit is now available to all Symphony developers on GitHub and the workflow examples are available in the WDK Gallery. To learn more, you can check out the new training course ‘Implementing Workflows with WDK 1.0‘ by heading over to the Symphony Developer Training Center; or you can watch a webinar (including a demo of the Kit in action) conducted by our Developer Relations team: Introducing The Workflow Developer Kit.
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