What is Human-in-the-Loop Business Automation?

How to build advanced business workflow automations powered by real-time decision-making

Polina Zyaparova


Polina Zyaparova

Marketing & PR at Frends

Business Process Automation (BPA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are integral parts of modern business today. Business automation and workflows are known to increase service quality, reduce time, errors, and costs, among other benefits. IT automations are also much easier to manage than manual scripts that are still quite commonly used in organizations. Managing script-based operations would require a tech-savvy dedicated team. Meanwhile, business automation executed with, for example, an iPaaS, integration – platform-as-a-service, brings:

  • visibility via visualization (BPMN2.0),
  • intuitive, user-friendly interface to monitor a task execution,
  • a flexible up-to-date IT architecture.

Some may argue that automation and robots take jobs away from people. On the contrary, automation can be viewed as an efficient tool to increase a team's productivity with the same resources at hand. Moreover, the next level of automation is when we can bring human intelligence into the picture to reduce the errors and execute more advanced workflows.

Human-in-the-loop automation / Human intervention / Human interaction

There are many terms out there to express the same idea of automation powered by human decision-making: Human-in-the-loop automation (HITL automation) / Human intervention / Human interaction. As integrations become more and more ingrained within organizations’ operational processes, the need for humans to interact with integration workflows become more critical. Human interaction can be needed in various situations, for example, when a workflow cannot execute without a manual approval, or when a workflow encounters an error and cannot get completed. It is also common that we can use AI inside workflows to make decisions that earlier required humans - but that is not always possible. Sometimes we need human-in-the-loop.

The core concept in bringing a human into an automation workflow is to bring value. There are several defined scenarios in which human interaction brings the most value to business automation:

  • To approve or reject action in a workflow
  • To ask for an additional data input
    • Missing mapping information
    • Missing value
  • To interact with error handling and alerts
    • Rerun a workflow
    • Ignore problematic data
  • To fill out forms to pass data for the integration

Collaboration platforms as Human Interaction Channels

Setting up mechanisms for human interaction is usually a one-time project that will be allowing your business team to execute tasks independently in the future. No need for custom front-end applications, no need to learn how to navigate new tools, no need to delegate tasks to the Support. One option is to use already existing modern collaboration platforms in an organization, like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

MS Designer card

For example, here the combination of Microsoft Actionable Message Designer and Microsoft Teams can act as your front-end application through which you can interact with an automation workflow.

Use case explained: How to configure a notification card in Teams for Human Interaction for Reject / Approval Tasks


Letting humans add value to a workflow is a perfect solution in most process automation cases to bring even more effectiveness and efficiency to business operations. Human interaction is the golden mean between executing a task fully manually and executing a full automation.

  1. Human interaction reduces the number of errors compared to manual work that is prone to errors.

  2. Human Interaction goes further than full automation as full automation is limited by certain triggers, schedules, and execution conditions.

Frends iPaaS gives the flexibility and freedom to create, manage and monitor APIs and integrations within one platform. Do not hesitate to contact our integration team to see how Integration-Platform-as-a-Service can bring continuous value to your business.


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