According to Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, data is the oil of the 21st century, in the sense of being the most valuable resource. Dynamism is a main feature that characterises data operations, and these operations constitute the foundation for doing business.
Consequently, in an age where data travels with the speed of light, companies must be granted access to most recent and error free information in order to maintain its data infrastructure, and thereby stay competitive on the market.
In other words, enterprise resource planning software such as SAP is vital, it is not an option but rather a must. In order to stay safe from the hell of unreliable, erroneous information in an ever-changing world, our recommended solution is to grow SAP applications through robotic process automation.
What are some of the benefits of doing so? Automating SAP processes leads to FTE savings, scalability, deployment with limited need for coding, as well as significant reductions of processing times for typical SAP tasks such as data entry or notifications for leave requests.
Probably the most productive gain is that RPA allows integration with any other platform or web services, which streamlines data flow for tasks like copying and pasting data between SAP and other applications, content migration, data mining, and more.
It is useful to know that last year, SAP bought Contextor, a French RPA provider, in order to leverage the potential of robotic process automation for its applications, such as SAP S/4HANA or SAP SuccessFactors. This is part of a very ambitious project, but the concrete action plan has not been specified yet.
No clear-cut implementation timeline is currently available; all we know is that it is meant to happen rather fast. The expectation is that half the business processes will be automated within three years. However, the scope of automation will be most likely restricted and it will not include all the legacy systems.
Use cases for growing SAP applications through RPA
1. Order-to-cash process
Data about incoming sales orders usually comes in a variety of forms, like emails or email attachments, paper documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc. Software robots can use optical character recognition to scan the data. Consequently, it can easily be entered in SAP, and then Sales Order can be booked. Ultimately, bots can initiate the fulfillment of Sales Order. These few steps illustrate full automation of SAP Sales Order.
2. Supply chain management and procurement processes
Bots’ capacity for quick and accurate comparison of prices, goods availability, raw material, and delivery times makes them the perfect candidates to carry out the evaluation of your company’s suppliers.
The purchase order follow-up process is also nicely amenable to automation, given that software robots can check vendor’s acceptance of the purchase order, PO fulfillment, as well as receipts and invoices availability and correspondence with the order.
3. HR onboarding process
As we were saying before, bots are a valuable asset when it comes to HR processes. Another way by which you can grow SAP applications through robotic process automation is to have bots capture relevant data from resumes, drivers’ licenses, and HR forms, thus minimising the risk of errors due to fatigue or lack of attention.
Furthermore, software robots can collect applicants’ data from the recruiting application and enter it directly into the SAP Human Capital Management (HCM) system or SAP SuccessFactors systems.
4. SAP login process
The optimal route to automating this process is along the lines of the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, that is, by breaking it down into two separate SAP workflows. First, the SAP GUI must be opened so that bots can select the server connection via activities such as Application or Click.
Afterwards, Type Into activities can be used to enter the server connection username and credentials. All that’s left is for the bots to choose and activate the login button, assisted by the Click activity.
5. SAP S/4HANA migration from SAP to other business software applications
The main reason why this makes a good application area for software robots is that it is that it is quite costly and also highly repetitive and monotonous, thus having a high error rate when performed manually.
Bots, on the other hand, can quickly scan and assess the data, thereby speeding up data migration and validation. What do you get out of this? A reduction in both the costs and the risks associated with manual task performance.
6. Interface monitoring
Numerous interfaces connected through SAP Process Integration, SAP Process Orchestration, or third-party middleware (non-exclusive disjunction) are involved in the completion of transactions.
The possibility exists that the interfaces fail, while failure identification is not exactly a piece of cake. It requires a whole range of skills from the support team, such as SAP Process Integration and SAP Process Orchestration know-how, functional SAP system skills, experience with the legacy system, etc.
Software robots can streamline the process by closely monitoring the interfaces of the SAP environment across all its domains, checking interface status in middleware, verifying the transaction status in non-SAP systems also. At the end of the day, bots can generate reports of all encountered interface and transaction failures.
7. Data consistency checks
Not extending the material master to the proper organizational structure, not updating purchasing information records, expired purchasing contracts in SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) or SAP Ariba, incorrectly updated vendor master fields, these are but a few examples of data inconsistencies which can block transactions. So you have very good reasons to prevent those from happening.
However, manual performance involves a variety of painstaking processes, like running multiple reports, downloading data to Excel, and then carefully going through the Excel spreadsheets to find out incompatible information. The bots can do all this much faster, greatly reducing the risk of false positives and false negatives.
To err is human, but your SAP database is the last place where you can afford to err, if you only consider how much time and money you’d have to waste to rectify those errors. The good news is that by growing your SAP applications through RPA you can drastically reduce the amount of error in the back end.
Other benefits of automating SAP processes are FTE reduction, an upgrade in the quality of collected data, or better informed management and sales staff. These outcomes of RPA deployment for SAP applications translate in significant financial benefits for your business.
There are numerous benefits to implementing robotic process automation for SAP. Should you decide to start this endeavour, do not hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to help you get started.