Many companies spend an enormous amount of time importing and exporting data into and out of SAP systems. The amount of data with which we must handle is exploding, with some predicting a growth of 50X by 2020.1 Along with this data comes the need to share it, move it, and generate reports to ensure that the data is converted into information and useful business decisions. How will your company—and your SAP team—deal with this explosion of data? In these volatile economic times, will your business processes be agile enough to survive?
How you automate will make a difference.
Many companies are innovating to find new ways of dealing with all of this data. Automation has become the tool of many. In fact, business process automation (BPA) software is forming its own industry segment. The mid-tier is expected to grow to $3+ billion.2
The number of automation technologies is exploding as well, and some solutions are better than others. For loading data into multiple systems, including SAP, you’ll want to consider using one of these packages. You can load data and integrate disparate systems with simple drag-and-drop clicks, yet control everything with full functionality. The automation tools of today can access data from any source at any layer, including SAP ERP systems, databases, GUI applications, web sites, homegrown legacy systems, and mainframe applications. You can grab the data from the backend or the front end of any of these sources, but front end integration is becoming more popular—mainly to reduce backend updates. Security concerns are lessened, as you can better control access and avoid giving too many people backend update authority.
Automation is being used every day in industries such as healthcare, government, and banking. For example, an agency within San Diego County used automation software to do the heavy lifting when they needed to integrate their legacy system with their document management system.3 Another example is an aviation parts repair company that now automatically pulls data from the front end of their SAP system, matches that data with data in another database, determines whether a special inspection process is required for a particular part, and attaches a notification to the repair order. A huge success and time saver. M&A is yet another obvious example of where automation helps to integrate piles of data within two companies.
Automating SAP data movement has become easier with advanced automation technology. Your biggest challenge is ensuring that your process is well-defined. Let’s assume we want to integrate HR data that resides in a legacy application with some SAP financial data, insert both data into a web application, and run reports. Your process might look like this:
- Log into legacy HR and SAP systems.
- Pull up employee records with the target fields.
- Copy 3 fields (for example name, ID number, phone number) from HR.
- Insert this data into an Excel spreadsheet.
- Copy 3 fields (name, ID number, current wage) from financial data.
- Insert this data into the same Excel spreadsheet.
- Complete this process for all employees.
- Insert the cumulative spreadsheet data into a new web application.
- Generate reports and email to 5 managers.
- Log out of both systems.
This entire process can be—and should be—automated. Using automation software is ideal for this type of data unloading/loading because it replaces an enormous amount of scripting and coding. By using drag-n-drop capabilities, you and your team can focus more closely on the actual processes, while still maintaining the control and flexibility to customize as needed. Using automation is simply a better way.