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.