Automating Regulatory Processes using RPA and SAP EHSM
As is evident from the ongoing changes in the regulatory landscape, managing Regulatory Compliance is a huge challenge to companies. Many systems needs to be accessed, checks need to be performed along with hand offs with home grown manual processes accessing the information from diverse sources. Whether it be an excel sheet pulling the information from diverse websites or custom extracts from their existing ERP applications that needs to be manually pulled from diverse applications screens which is mundane, time consuming and prone to errors. In such challenging scenarios managing accuracy while processing high number of manual entries to be processed, pose significant toll on the people who work on such processes.
In order to overcomes such challenges companies from time to time invest in business process re-engineering and automation using ERP processes such as SAP to ensure that number of manual activities are reduced. Once ERP systems are implemented, companies run from an initial stage of adaptive scenarios where process is further refined to achieve competitive advantage to suit organizational requirements. To operate these steady processes at times companies invest in manpower who need to still work on highly repetitive process which add little value, like copying data from one application to another application and run transactions and generate reports.
To optimize the utilization of resources to create value add to generate value, now a days there has been a huge demand for Robotic Process Automation, which actually is a means of automating highly manual processes. These RPA accesses sizeable systems numbers to manage huge transaction volumes. These scenarios can be back office activities with a good example being the invoice processing for financial areas. However, when it comes to Regulatory management the adaptation is often isolated and limited as it is often felt that these processes are highly regulatory in nature and any issues with system / error will result in compliance issue. However there are many processes which can be further automated using Robotic process automation. Some of the process scenarios where such Robots can be deployed include the Product Safety Stewardship managing the chemical information for different regulatory sites, MSDS information communication for end user information, pulling information to generate regulatory reports.
To develop such processes using Robotic Process Automation, there are many application vendors available in the market, which in conjunction with SAP offer very attractive road map. The beginning steps for managing a process using RPA is doing a due diligence on different processes capturing information on whether a process is manual, volume of processes, number of systems being accessed, level of rules based on which it navigates to different stages, and level of complexity so that the exceptions are limited in nature. Above all it is seen that the process (at times the Maturity level) is predicted to be a stable steps for a sizeable period of time.
Often it needs expertise in the area of Robotic process automation, regulatory knowledge and business expertise to evaluate the processes and come out with regulatory scenarios where RPA can be implemented, be it automatic BOT based SDS communication / guidance or product information or loading the data to regulatory websites and so on. With SAP evolving EH&S landscape be it Fiori based front end or SAP GUI which along with RPA tools will offer huge benefit to organizations. Lastly based on my exposure, it needs a regulatory expertise as well as SAP EHS skills in evaluating these processes to understand the RPA potential and maintain BOTs on a day to day operation meeting adequate disaster recovery controls, thus offering optimum utilization of human resources, minimization of errors and timely compliance.