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Gliding path for Customer’s Automation Success with SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation

My name is Harsha Bhat and I am the global Solution Owner and Go-to-Market Lead for  SAP Intelligent RPA solution. This blog post is a follow-up to the earlier ones from Sebastian Schroetel where you saw how Robotic Process Automation is elevating to next level low code/no code integrated automation suite here: RPA – Quo vadis?, and from Dr. Andreas Gerber on how SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation solution elevates to the next level to meet that challenge: Bringing SAP Intelligent RPA to the next level.”

Now, let me provide you a few insights on how customers can adopt these innovations and find a gliding path to success by automating and optimizing business processes using SAP Intelligent RPA.

Let’s imagine a customer’s journey in this context. It often begins with a set of aspirations and priorities to be met by an automation solution like SAP Intelligent RPA:

  1. Customers would like to reduce manual repetitive tasks that their enterprise is busy with and gain new speed for getting things done. They would like to use automation here as a key lever for augmenting their organizational capacity towards more and more high value, cognitive tasks. They want to be efficient, compliant, flexible and scalable during the course.
  2. While unleashing the key lever of automation to gain new efficiency, customers would like to carry their existing heterogeneous IT infrastructure along with minimum financial and usability disruption. They do not want their legacy systems and homegrown disintegrated tools deployed over many several years to be their constraints for being successful.
  3. Automation choices that customers make need to be secure, manageable, governable, compliant and extendable for volatile future. It should be versatile enough to manage exceptions, intelligent enough to handle unstructured information and intuitive enough for end users to incorporate operational changes in a seamless manner.
  4. The choice that customers make for an automation tool should be easy to implement, should enhance overall employee experience, and increase customer satisfaction. It should make the process of automation building and consumption easier as well as enjoyable for all types of users. It should provide customers a quick Return on Investment (ROI), ensure business continuity for critical processes with high availability, and shouldn´t force for a huge capital expenditure (Capex) to get everything done.

Keeping those aspirations and priorities in mind, the next step for the customers is to find answers for vital “What and How” questions. Here is a recipe book for you to systemize automation adoption:

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Customer journey towards achieving process optimization and excellence

Step 1: Understand what needs to be automated

How to identify distinct automation opportunities? Should they setup a dedicated transformation project for discovering automation potential? Do they already have a list of use cases to set start their automation journey right away? Is there an IT solution to address this discovery question – which can precisely point out towards manual repetitive processes? Is there a tool which can observe user’s behavior and quantitatively generate a view on efficiency losses and potential process tasks which need to be automated?

This is where process mining solutions, user behavior mining tools and/or use cases discovery workshops can help identifying the use cases to automate. You could learn more about SAP´s approach towards process mining for automation discovery here

SAP also helps customers on their automation use case discovery process with some examples here.

Step 2: Choose right solutions for automating what is discovered

Once customers figure out “what to automate”, the next step is to solve the How question by identifying tools available to “automate all of them in real” while meeting their original aspirations and priorities.

While creating an automation solution, the key activity is to describe “how a process is executed today step by step” and “what are the known variations of executing a processes step by step”. The best way is to simply observe and record end user’s interactions with tools and screens they need to interact with for getting things done. That can serve as an information to build a digital bot workflow accurately to create reliable automations resembling to daily lives of process execution.

Once you identify the scope of the use cases and capture the “how” aspects, the next step is to decide on the automation tools to make it happen. Let´s look at some of the probing questions from the analyst firm Gartner here to evaluate further:

  • Is the goal to automate repetitive human tasks only? – RPA can be a good fit here with software bots getting activities done via User Interface (UI) of the software.
  • Is the goal to optimize and automate end-to-end business processes, including discovery, modeling and orchestration? – RPA-based UI automation in combination with process mining tools, BPM and other integration tools can be a good fit here.
  • Is the goal to achieve better system automation by integrating applications, data and systems (including SaaS and cloud-based platforms)- API based orchestration, BPM, Rest API consumption via individual applications can be a good fit here
  • Are you looking for a combination of the above – Some organizations might want to automate human tasks and integrate disparate legacy systems. Some might need to orchestrate processes while automating human tasks. – RPA in combination with process mining tools, BPM, API based orchestration and other integration tools can be a good fit here

This is where SAP Intelligent RPA can be a safe choice of customers for changing the discovery into an automated reality with its overarching capabilities for combining and addressing multiple automation needs.

  • Output from process mining tools can be used as an input for SAP Intelligent RPA design studio to construct the process flow for software bots for automatic execution. Another way is to simply start with the use cases that are identified through end user observation or use case identification exercises. In whichever way a use case description comes in; the next level of SAP Intelligent RPA Cloud Studio makes it even easier for business users and citizen developers to covert those use cases into fully functional automation.
  • Customers then can decide the mode of bot operation by choosing between attended (human in the loop) or unattended (autonomous) execution. Infrastructure readiness to install and deploy bot agents on user desktops for attended mode or on servers / virtual machines for unattended mode can be established at this stage. SAP Intelligent RPA lets citizen developers build those automations, orchestrate them in attended or unattended mode, and monitor bot performance in a centralized dashboard. It also provides flexibilities to manage credentials required for bot authorization to be setup in a flexible way by leveraging SAP Cloud Platform secure store capabilities. User credentials, machines and job assignments can be centrally managed in the cloud factory component with possibilities for controlled deployments via dedicated environments for testing, pre-production and production.

How can customers find an easy path to adopt here? SAP Intelligent RPA Next Level elevation could further accelerate the customer’s journey towards success:

  • New refurbished architecture with the introduction of low code Cloud Studio, provides customers an additional simplified option to make the bot building experience more business-user friendly and more suitable for citizen developers. JavaScript experts can still leverage the power of a comprehensive debugger and the scripting environment of the design studio.
  • SAP Intelligent RPA solution contains API Triggers Framework which simplifies the integration with Business Process Management (BPM) for building complex bot workflows, combining UI-based bot access and API-based orchestration. This is where SAP Intelligent RPA overarches human-to-system tasks and system-to-system interactions for a complete end-to-end digital process execution.
  • Another strength of SAP Intelligent RPA has been in the areas of automating SAP’s own applications in heterogenous surroundings through special connectors and pre-defined content bots addressing multiple use cases. Improvements on connectors for building bots with SAP Graphical User Interface (GUI) and SAPUI5-based interfaces continue to get simplified for consumption. SAP Intelligent RPA Store accessible via the link here continues to deliver multiple pre-defined bots for free on SAP portfolio of SAP ECC and SAP S4HANA for making customers´ life easier to kickstart their adoption projects. SAP also proactively provides several accelerator content bots periodically on SAP Intelligent RPA community for simplifying adoption. You can find an interesting blog post by my colleague Peter Engel on it
  • You can always try out SAP Intelligent RPA via a limited period free self-service Trial available here. You also have an option for becoming a “voluntary beta customer” for the SAP Intelligent RPA next level version to avail early insights into the upcoming changes. You can access various up-to-date information and exchange experiences with other automation enthusiasts from the market on SAP Intelligent RPA community here.

Step 3: Extend the core automation with further intelligent or cognitive capabilities

Once the core automation is built, the next optional step is to evaluate what are the further options available to extend the core automation infrastructure towards enabling it for cognitive abilities?

Processing unstructured documents with software bots made easier:

Enhanced platform capabilities empower customers to automate further on unstructured document processing. New activities and methods for PDFs have been introduced for extracting texts easily from readable pdf files and inputting extracted entities for subsequent bot execution steps.

Moreover, customers can also now flexibly use ANY document extraction vendor of their choice and can easily onboard the outputs into the bot workflow for SAP Intelligent RPA driven execution.

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PDF processing made easy with SAP Intelligent RPA next level

Here is an example of SAP Intelligent RPA working smoothly with a document extraction vendor: ABBYY FlexiCapture for processing unstructured supplier invoice documents. The descriptive blog post from my colleague Dr. Pavel Efros provides detailed insights here.

 

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SAP Intelligent RPA automating the outputs from ABBYY document processing

 

API trigger and notification framework for consuming intelligent services

The API trigger and notification framework empowers SAP Intelligent RPA to seamlessly consume intelligent services such as ML and conversational services. For example: It can be combined with chatbots for a digital enterprise using SAP Conversational AI. Chatbots can be used for frontend customer interaction whereas SAP Intelligent RPA-based software bots could work in the background to execute on processes across multiple heterogeneous systems and notify the chatbot upon work completion- hence taking digital customer experience to a newer level of satisfaction. Here is an interesting blog post from Tyler Gardner on how chatbots and RPA work together.

Step 4: Monitor automation performance and provide execution level information for organizational level analytics

Once the core automation is built and further extended optionally with cognitive or non-cognitive further conversational abilities, the next step is about – how do we monitor and govern automation tools and processes? How do we make process execution level statistics and information transparently available for bigger picture enterprise-wide analytical exercises?

  • SAP Intelligent RPA’s cloud factory component contains a monitoring dashboard which summarizes and provides all the execution information such as bot run statistics, completed and failed executions, time-based aggregations of process execution information etc.
  • Output of the dashboard can be easily exported and used further for Business Activity Monitoring and feeding the information into wider organizational level analytics dashboards, management reporting, uploading to Business Information (BI) tools etc.

Step 5: Choose a commercial architecture for scaling through automations

Finally, the task for customers is to evaluate a fitting commercial architecture to leverage different automation technologies to estimate costs and investments needed. Here, SAP Intelligent RPA continuous to offer greater flexibility with commercial options to license and adopt the solution on a consumption-based model. Most of the RPA solutions in market have their pricing based on “what is needed to build and run automations”. Whereas SAP Intelligent RPA pricing relies upon the philosophy of charging customers based on “what they do with the solution”, hence making it a true consumption-based cloud pricing for incremental adoption flexibility. Customers can scale through their step-by-step adoption, achieve quick ROI, while not being constrained with upfront commercial complications.

Customers can flexibly choose between Cloud Platform Enterprise Agreement (CPEA) and monthly subscription for activating SAP Intelligent Service on SAP Cloud Platform.

  • If you choose CPEA, you can avail multiple 65+ underlying SAP Cloud Platform services such as SAP Conversational AI, document extraction services, BPM services and many more along with SAP Intelligent RPA for building multi-mode automation projects. You just need to activate services of your interest, and they get billed based on actual usage.
  • If you choose for an upfront monthly subscription, you can specifically adopt SAP Intelligent RPA with all underlying technical services that are needed to run it.

The unique commercial model of SAP Intelligent RPA lets you use as many design studios that you want, as many bot agents you want to run across your enterprises in attended or unattended mode- without forcing additional component licenses and metering their actual consumption only.

Here is an interesting blog post by my colleague Philippe Poux on how to estimate consumption by translating automation requirements to SAP Intelligent RPA licensing volume. This will help you easily estimate licensing costs for automating business processes.

Moreover, SAP services are equipped more than ever to deliver their implementations even remotely – hence making SAP Intelligent RPA more and more suitable for remote adoption and operation. SAP’s huge partner ecosystem is also equipped to deliver on its services for making customers’ automation projects successful.

Customers globally are already achieving high efficiency, speed and compliance with quick Return on Investment by easily adopting SAP Intelligent RPA

Now, let’s look at some of the customer experiences who successfully travelled through the guiding path of automation success and generated tangible value by adopting SAP Intelligent RPA.

SAP’s experience so far reinforces the fact that lines of businesses such as Finance, Procurement, HR and IT are the front runners with maximum number of automated use cases. Business entities such as Shared Service Centers (SSC) which process high volume of information and need to comply with high Service Level Agreements (SLAs) also have been increasingly automating several financial closing tasks, invoice management activities, order management activities etc. Banks and Insurance sectors which typically contain several legacy systems, could successfully live their automation dream by carrying several disintegrated software pieces along with new age investments for digital transformation. They increasingly succeed with better customer onboarding, automated employee enrollment and better customer servicing.

Now, let’s look at some of the inspirational stories of customers who adopted SAP Intelligent RPA and generated instant business value in their quest for transforming into an intelligent enterprise.

Here is a compelling core automation story from polymer manufacturer Rehau who could adopt SAP intelligent RPA within 3 weeks implementation time and convert ~4 days of work into 10 minutes task while processing financial accounting documents.  They could also reduce a day long work of an employee to 2 minutes bot tasks for process orders automation, hence creating more bandwidth for employees to focus on cognitive innovation. They reduced implementation time significantly by kickstarting their adoption using free SAP pre-defined bot content. Read the full blog post here.

Customer Daewoong Pharmaceutical adopted SAP Intelligent RPA and are saving 5720 person hours to automate the process of downloading external open-market order information and creating sales orders. Read the full story in this blog post here.

Customer Villeroy & Boch discovered manual repetitive use cases for automating process execution traversing across SAP ERP and heterogenous productivity tools. Their efficiency journey started with attended bots for core automation of these use cases. As a next step they extended the core automation with autonomous unattended bot for combining document extraction services with SAP Intelligent RPA. See also the full story in a dedicated blog post here.

Customer Murphy Oil combined core use cases automation with intelligent services for creating a digital oil field using SAP Intelligent RPA. With touchless mobile applications based on SAP Intelligent RPA, SAP Data Intelligence Machine Learning & AI services, SAP Conversational AI and SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite, onshore field operators can now operate with improved effectiveness and safety. You can read more about this inspiring automation story in my colleague Pierre Col’s blog post here.

Conclusion

  • When you start on an automation journey, follow the gliding path of discovering manual repetitive processes, detailing out on how they are performed with variations and then choose an automation tool to address specific automation modes.
  • SAP Intelligent RPA can be the tool of choice by overarching human-to-system and system-to-system activities for end-to-end process automation.
  • Next Level SAP Intelligent RPA would make it even simpler by making the automation building and consumption experience attractive for business users and citizen developers. It can consume document extraction, Conversational AI, and other intelligent services easier than ever. You can readily adopt the solution today and optionally sign up for beta version of the future software.
  • SAP Intelligent RPA is an easy-to-adopt, secure cloud service which can even be implemented and operated remotely within few weeks from scratch. There are several customers who are already generating prolific business values across the globe.

Learn More

For more information on SAP Intelligent RPA:

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