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Author's profile photo Murali Shanmugham

Achieve Process Excellence and Automation using SAP’s Intelligent Business Process Management

As businesses continue to grow, they rely on their existing processes to optimise costs, improve margins and ensure the best possible experience for their customers and employees. Often these processes span across different departments who maintain their own systems.

Some of these systems would have also come through mergers and acquisitions and would involve processes which need to be done manually. For any organisation to identify inefficiencies in their processes, they need to have a view of the processes – from the start to end. They need to be able to analyse the digital footprint along with the manual processes to holistically understand how these processes behave and the impact it has on their sales, budget, experience etc.

Apart from the need to improve process efficiencies, organisations also need to ensure all the steps followed within each process are compliant and adhere to all their legal obligations. As their IT landscape evolve and expand with solutions from different vendors, they need a way to streamline the process, automate as many tasks as possible and at the same time be flexible and adaptive to changing business needs. This is where SAP’s Intelligent Business Process Management (Intelligent BPM) plays a crucial role. It is a family of services on SAP Cloud Platform to digitize and automate business processes and decision, and gain end to end visibility into the processes that span across heterogenous or hybrid landscape.

Below is a screenshot from the Product Roadmap which highlights the different categories and the respective services which constitute the portfolio

Process Excellence is a concept which all the organizations are striving to achieve whereby they look to continuously improve their process to seek perfection. I like to view it as three different phases where the processes go through an iteration to ensure they meet the business’s expectation.

It all starts with Process Discovery where they try to gain an understanding of how some of their as-is processes are executed. In the Process Automation & Integration phase, processes are automated and digitally integrated to support real-time operations and finally in the Process Monitoring phase, they are constantly reviewed to ensure organizational KPIs are met.

In this blog, I will briefly touch upon these three phases and highlight how some of the components of SAP’s Intelligent BPM help organisations to achieve process excellence.


Process Discovery:

SAP Process Mining by Celonis helps visualize business processes to discover areas of improvements. It can connect to SAP and non-SAP transactional systems and extract the event logs to dynamically construct a visual representation of how the process flows within your organization. Since the visual representations are created directly from the raw data as opposed to any existing process models, it delivers an accurate picture of how your processes are executed within your organization. SAP Process Mining by Celonis also offers pre-built contents and connectors for various SAP solutions.

This enables organisations to quickly gain a holistic view of the as-is processes along with the different variations which were used in completing the process.

The below picture is an illustration of a Purchase-to-Pay process analysis in Celonis. You can view the number of process variation in the right-hand side and depending on the selection, the process flow representation will change to show all the steps involved for each variation.

Analyzing these variations will provide key insights and help pinpoint the areas where one needs to focus on to either optimise costs, improve margins or enhance the experience for their customers and employees. One of the key components of SAP Process Mining by Celonis is the “Action Engine” which constantly analyses data from the processes. It can act on defined rules and can trigger actions to respective users or systems.

The Action Engine can be tightly integrated with SAP Cloud Platform Intelligent Business Process Management services to close the loop from insights to actions.


Process Automation & Integration:

The next stage is on automating and integrating all those identified processes to ensure they run smoothly with minimal human intervention. SAP’s Intelligent BPM offers capabilities to orchestrate and extend SAP and non-SAP processes & decisions. It enables organisations to create and manage workflow & rules application in simple and fast way.

To give an example, consider a vendor master update scenario. Usually, vendor master data in maintained in an SAP system and whenever there is a need to update their details, the respective vendors either call the company’s Shared Service Team to help with this request or email/call a helpline. This is a scenario which can be easily automated using SAP iBPM where a self-service portal can be setup for vendors to make their updates which can be reviewed by the company’s internal staff before it updates the master data in the backend SAP system.

Common use cases like this have already been documented in the SAP Cloud Platform use case repository.

Automate the business partner creation process using SAP Cloud Platform

Another common example we see is around employee onboarding. This process varies from one organisation to another. Once you hire an employee, you might need to assign buddy, equipments and go through and approval process before raising a purchase requisition for those equipments. The business logic for these can be maintained in the rules service and the workflow service can orchestrate the E2E process and can trigger the creation of purchase requisitions as well as travel request for the new starter.

You can go through the use case document to understand how it can be automated.

Automate employee onboarding processes with workflow

Its important to note that SAP iBPM is a collection of several services and you can connect them to orchestrate a process accordingly.

SAP Cloud Platform Workflow service: supports the rapid development of workflow-based applications.

SAP Cloud Platform Business Rules: enables business and decision logic to be maintained outside business applications for business users to manage themselves.

SAP Cloud Platform Conversational AI: enhances customer and employee experience with AI powered chatbots

SAP Intelligent Robotics Process Automation: automates repetitive manual processes across SAP and non-SAP applications.

As you can see, all the services are tightly integrated and can be connected to orchestrate any process. When dealing with multiple solutions across SAP and non-SAP solutions, integration is a key requirement and can be supported by some of the below services.

SAP Cloud Platform Integration: supports process integration by connecting SAP solutions.

SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors: supports integration with 3rd party solutions by leveraging out-of-the-box adapters


Process Monitoring:

SAP Cloud Platform Process Visibility is a service which provides end-to-end, event-driven view on the Processes spanning across heterogeneous landscape. It helps organisations to Identify operational delays in real-time and provides insight to take proactive actions to improve process excellence. It provides easily customizable workspace which can be used by the business process owners in their day-to-day businesses to view and analyse their key performance indicators. Below is a sample screenshot of performance indicators for “Lead to Cash” scenario which can be configured using Process Visibility.

I would encourage you to follow the some of the developer tutorials to try out some of these services in a trial landscape to familiarize yourself.

Related Resources:

Thanks for Archana Shukla and Gareth Lloyd for proofreading and ensuring that the content is relevant.

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      Author's profile photo Sungyoul Baik
      Sungyoul Baik

      Awesome. Nice work Murali