An army of software robots ready to do the work you don’t want to

Fasthosts has servers packed with automation software and virtual robots from Documation that are taking on huge workloads across the UK.


It’s like a family. That’s how Julia Stovold, Head of Marketing at Documation explains what it’s like to be part of the business. We have 30 in the team, with many working their way up through the ranks, having joined as graduates. I’ve never been in a job where people who joined 27 years ago are still as passionate and excited today as they were when they started.

It’s clear that the software firm founded in 1992 by CEO John Wallace is a great place to work – and a business that really cares for its staff. Based in Eastleigh, just north of Southampton, the New Forest and sea aren’t far away. Julia can see the waves from her home office. Even on a gloomy day, it’s a tonic.

But it’s not just people that Documation employs. It also has an army of software robots ready to be deployed for its customers. These aren’t robots in the humanoid sense – tottering about and bumping into things, or falling over endlessly. They’re not even the type of robots you might see building cars on a production line. And they’re certainly not those scary dog robots that trot around menacingly in Black Mirror.

One service that really stood out from the others ...CloudNX, The ability to add or remove CPU, RAM, or disk space to servers using a slider in a dashboard is fantastic.
- Chris Greenhalgh, Systems Administrator at Documation

These robots, created by Documation’s own developers, exist within their software and transform the way tasks are undertaken within clients’ businesses.

But of course, the software robots aren’t in the computer of the user. They’re actually sitting in severs run by Fasthosts on behalf of Documation, alongside other business process automation software the company creates. This is accessed via the cloud by customers.

As Julia explains, These software robots are used to automate workflows, especially in finance and accounting. The robots supplement the software we create, working with it to take on process-driven tasks.

This typically includes things like paying suppliers, purchasing and invoice matching. In many businesses this is done manually. An invoice is received in the post or email. Someone prints it out. They put a date stamp on it. They look for the purchase order to match it to. Someone signs it. It gets scanned in and then saved on a system or database. The process has little variation and is often the same day-in, day-out. It’s dull.

These are jobs that we can automate and get software robots to do for us, says Julia. Accounts payable is our real specialism. We’ve been doing it for over 25 years. But we work with lots of business departments where there are processes that need following. This includes expenses management, purchasing and more.

The pandemic has been a real catalyst for change among Documation’s clients. Any process that had been paper-based fell apart in March 2020. People couldn’t go into the office and certainly couldn’t be passing documents around. They needed to digitise and automate the process. This included using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to read incoming documents and then processing them using our software.

The firm’s clients cover all industries from retail to universities, manufacturing and finance, using Documation software which is hosted by Fasthosts.

Cloud Backup has revolutionised our cloud hosted offering. It can assist with everything from cloning servers to restoring entire system states to the same or different hardware. It gives us incredible peace of mind.
- Chris Greenhalgh, Systems Administrator at Documation

We use CloudNX servers for our hosted environments for customer systems, says Chris Greenhalgh, Systems Administrator at Documation. We use a VPS for hosting our public website and have Cloud Backup for secure offsite storage of the data on CloudNX and VPS systems. We also use this for many on-premises server backups. Fasthosts has also provided us with a number of domain names.

If Chris had to choose one service that really stood out from the others, he says, The CloudNX servers. The ability to add or remove CPU, RAM, or disk space to servers using a slider in a dashboard is fantastic.

He also gives special mention to Cloud Backup. This has revolutionised our cloud hosted offering. It can assist with everything from cloning servers to restoring entire system states to the same or different hardware. Or you can use it to simply obtain specific files from an earlier point in time. It gives us incredible peace of mind that, in the unlikely event of there being an issue with our CloudNX servers, we’d be able to recover from an encrypted offsite copy quickly and simply at the click of a button.

Chris says he uses Fasthosts because it provides reliability and high service standards. We find the service very easy to use. There’s clear billing and the support is great. This includes everything from the fast and excellent responses from our account manager, Asif Veshmia, through to helpful technical support whenever needed. The reliability is confirmed by a separate 24/7 extensive monitoring solution. We also love the ability to create server templates and save them as CloudNX ‘Images’ to speed up our deployment process.

In addition, Fasthosts is great value for money compared to similar offerings from other IaaS suppliers. We particularly love the simplicity of the billing model – no unexpected usage charges or anything, Chris concludes.

From Julia’s point of view, Fasthosts provides the scalability the firm needs to offer solutions to clients quickly. Whether they need a simple invoice management (IMS) system or a full purchase to pay (P2P) transformation, Fasthosts can deliver the processing power via the cloud to achieve it.

As the firm looks to the future, Julia and Chris are confident its combination of powerful technology and a human, inquisitive approach will work. We’re not just about software. We’re here to listen to people and to understand their problems and needs. We build relationships. Only by doing so can we really help clients achieve all their goals, Julia concludes.

One thing is for certain, as the firm grows and helps more customers automate processes, Fasthosts will be there with an army – or family – of software robots ready to be deployed from its servers. In doing so, it might just change the world of work forever.

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