On January 10 SAP announced the SAP Business One EMEA Development Challenge in alignment with the SAP Business One Innovation Summit 2018 in Barcelona. At Boyum IT Solutions we have always been keen on innovating for the SAP Business One market. Our approach is the Eliminate, Automate, and Delegate 3-8 model:
- Eliminate all processes that have no value.
- If a process cannot be eliminated, automate it.
- If neither elimination nor automation is possible, delegate.
In the blog entry below you can read about the solution we have submitted for the Development Challenge. If you find our solution useful and innovative we would love to get your vote!
Monia Solution Demo Video:
Monia Solution Demo URL:
Monia is a friendly bot that eliminates and automates HR processes and duties such as leave requests and planning as well as absence reporting. The bot is available for Slack and Skype (it can be extended to other conversational user interfaces such as Microsoft Teams, Alexa, and Text/SMS) and interacts with SAP Business One through the SAP HANA Service Layer.
Solution Use Case
At Boyum IT Solutions we create standard solutions for SAP Business One. We are investigating the impact and feasibility of using bots in the enterprise to automate and eliminate processes. Our entry for the Developer Challenge is a minimum viable product: a bot that will lead us towards creating added value for our customers. Our hypothesis is that bots are heavily under-utilized in terms of their potential to interact with end-users who are not experts in all the enterprise’s information systems. Bots and the underlying technologies can also help interpret situations in the same way that we do as human beings. For example, it is common for colleagues to spot when a co-worker is experiencing stress or feeling challenged based on the amount of sick leaves, working hours and on their communication. In the future, bots will be able to proactive help avoid and remedy these situations.
For our minimum viable product we have selected some simple processes that are wasteful as manual procedures.
A typical leave request process would go something like this:
- Employee contacts HR and asks how much days of leave they have remaining.
- HR looks up the employee’s details in SAP Business One and informs the employee about the remaining days.
- Employee looks into their calendar to find days to take off.
- Employee sends a request to her direct manager and a copy to the HR department.
- The direct manager looks into the staff’s planning schedule to see if anyone else is on leave on those dates (if they even have the overview) and replies back with approving it.
- HR register the approval in SAP Business One.
From the process described above we identified three personas involved and who will benefit from the solution:
- Manager (Maggie) – People manager responsible for employee’s engagement, sick leaves and planning schedule.
- Direct Report (Ben) – Employee reporting to the manager.
- Human Resources’ Member (Peter) – Responsible for registering and reporting days of leave across the organization.
The solution eliminates the manual leave processes and steps in addition to automating the process of requesting, planning and booking leave as well as registering sick days in a simple and intuitive way. It has literally never been easier to manage the leave request processes.
What conversation can you have with the bot?
As an employee
- I would like to take days off in week 10
- I’m sick today
- How do I get in contact with Allan?
- How much leave do I have left?
- When do I have approved leave?
As a manager
- Who will be working next week?
- Who will be working in august?
- Who is working today?
- Do I have any outstanding leave requests?
Example, As an employee, I am sick today
Example, As an employee, “I will be on holiday three weeks from now for 2 weeks”
Example, As a manager, Please process a leave request from an employee
Example, As an employee, terrible boss rejected the leave request
Example, As a manager, overview of who is at work
For the implementation of the solution we have used the Microsoft Bot Framework to build the bot engine. The bot has then been extended using the Slack UI to support the Slack conversation platform. Using the Microsoft Bot Framework the bot was also made available for Skype.
When users interact with the bot they are actually interacting with the bot implementation (using the Microsoft Bot Builder Framework) hosted on Microsoft Azure. The bot implementation interacts with an ASP.NET solution that interacts with SAP HANA based on the perceived request.
To implement the natural language processing logic we have used LUIS from Microsoft Cognitive Services.
The architecture is loosely coupled from the client to the middleware and to the backend services. It can easily be extended to support other conversational UIs such as Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Teams and Text/SMS.
The bot we have developed for the Developer Challenge is a horizontal solution desired by any company that has an HR department with leave request and sick leave processes. This also makes it easy to evaluate its usefulness across different companies. With this approach we can broadly test our hypothesis of the bots’ effectivity of in the enterprise.
Bots that pass the market validation will be marketed as part of the Boyum Pack and be rolled out together with our partners.
We have approached the development using an agile design thinking process where we are testing hypothesis and making changes accordingly. Our roadmap for 2018 is to continue testing the hypothesis around using bots as an interface and which process would be useful to automate in this fashion.
Partner: Boyum IT Solutions