Automated File Transfer is a term used to describe the programmatic movement of files. Typically, automated business processes are used for file-based system to system transfers, either inside an organisation or between trading partners.

Introduction to Automated File Transfer

Automated File Transfer is a term used to describe the programmatic movement of files. Typically, automated business processes are used for file-based system to system transfers, either inside an organisation or between trading partners. Businesses usually implement file transfer automation software to replace legacy scripts or unreliable manual processes. This reduces support overheads and error rates, increasing efficiency.

An automated file transfer solution should provide a simple, powerful interface, enabling IT to create business workflows without programming skills. Features should enable you to push and pull files using a variety of file transfer protocols, plus a wide range of options to schedule events and transform or manipulate file contents. Robust reporting and notification is an important component, ensuring users are informed in a timely manner.

automated file transfer workflow

Chapter 1:

What are the benefits of file transfer automation software?
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Out of the box software from a reputable supplier brings benefits across many areas of the business.


  1. Automate repetitive processes to free up resources
  2. Reduce development costs and ongoing reliance on custom code
  3. Onboard trading partners more quickly
  4. Security is increased, with encrypted delivery protocols and files encrypted at rest
  5. Dashboards provide business users with real-time visibility into the status of file transfers
  6. Meet SLAs with alerts for transfers that haven’t completed on time
  7. Avoid human error from manual processing, saving hours of lost time
  8. Integrate with other applications, both on premise or in the cloud, e.g SharePoint, Amazon & Azure
  9. Decrease delays and bottlenecks with scheduling options
  10. High availability and disaster recovery options available
  11. Enable timely file transfer so that IT isn’t a business bottleneck
  12. Transfer files faster, replacing shipping of media such as media USB devices, DVDs & HDDs
  13. Send large data sets quickly, to trading partners across the world
  14. Achieve compliance with company, industry or regulatory standards such as data protection, GDPR, PCI, SOX and HIPAA.

Chapter 2:

Replacing home grown scripts

Over time, businesses have attempted to automate processes by implementing various batch scripts and cronjobs. Some automate ftp file transfers using Windows FTP scripts and have hundreds running unmonitored. It’s the number one reason businesses contact us – they want to consolidate this with file transfer automation software.

Here are some other reasons why home grown scripts are replaced with file transfer automation software:

  1. Script failure – Scripts commonly fail for any number of reasons. With no plan B, downstream processes can be affected
  2. Auditability – Scripts aren’t usually written to provide error reporting, resulting in reliance on operating system logs
  3. Development – It takes significant knowledge and cost to modify scripts, especially once the original developer has moved on
  4. Notifications – Developers haven’t usually implemented email or other alerts, to notify users about a failed script or an unexpected outcome

Chapter 3:

Five best automated file transfer solutions of 2020

There’s a variety of file transfer automation software options, which enable the secure, automated transfer of files. The most appropriate option for your business will depend on your requirements, budget and appetite for risk.

SFTP Client

SFTP Client

The simplest and cheapest option is to configure automations using a desktop SFTP client application. At around £50 it’s cheap but does come with risks. Not being server based, means it relies on the desktop being powered on and the application running. If you’re after a complex workflow then this isn’t an option.

Workflow Automation

Workflow Automation

If you just need to automate the movement of data and don’t need a (new) server to land files on, a workflow automation tool is a good fit. A subset of Managed File Transfer below, the automation engine can move files between file servers, FTP servers and cloud storage with a wide selection of value-add features.

Managed File Transfer – MFT

Managed File Transfer – MFT

Typically, this includes the server component not included above. Managed File Transfer solutions provide a wide range of delivery options to cater for most automation needs. SFTP automation is one of the most common use cases, but a number of other delivery protocols lend themselves to automation too.

Robotic Process Automation – RPA

Robotic Process Automation – RPA

Delivering file transfer automation is just the tip of the iceberg for RPA. Where file-based applications fall short, RPA enables integration with application GUIs or web pages. Configured by ‘demonstrating’ to the RPA tool, it then takes the rules provided and automates 24×7 and error free.

Integration Platform as a Service – iPaaS

Integration Platform as a Service – iPaaS

iPaaS is a set of automated tools for connecting software applications that are deployed in different environments. iPaaS is often used to integrate applications and data between on-premises and the cloud. This solution type is not usually strong on batch file transfers. An additional component is sometimes required to get the data into the platform.

Chapter 4:

Who uses Automated File Transfer? How and why

Almost all businesses have data they need to exchange with business partners, suppliers and customers. You can find out how healthcare, financial services, retail, logistics and utilities organisations use automated file transfer by industry sector in more detail here

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Chapter 5:

Automated File Transfer Resources

Digital Transformation White Paper

MFT underpins digital transformation. This White Paper explains how it transforms your operational processes through automation, integration, improved visibility, security and compliance. 

Managed File Transfer Buyers Guide

Pro2col’s Managed File Transfer Buyer’s Guide equips you with the knowledge to make the right decision when it comes to securely transferring or sharing files.

Building a File Transfer Business Case

Pro2col consultants have many years’ experience helping organisations with their business case. They have put together some hints and tips to help you.

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The Basics