Using SAP Intelligent RPA to upload attachments to sales orders in SAP Business ByDesign
This blog describes the idea and development of a bot for uploading attachments to sales orders in SAP Business ByDesign. It will briefly explain what the bot does, what was learned and what conclusion can be drawn from the experience.
In everyday business a lot of information and documents are sent and received with Outlook. When employees receive requests or questions about sales orders they have to search in the mailbox and their ERP system and then formulate a response. To shorten the search, most companies upload relevant documents to sales orders in their ERP system. This also ensures a single source of truth.
However, imagine what this means in actual tasks performed by your employees. They first need to manually download the attachment from the e-mail and save it to a folder on their computer/network. Secondly, they need to logon to SAP Business ByDesign. Thirdly, the corresponding sales order needs to be found (multiple actions to find this). And at last, the attachment needs to be selected from the correct folder and uploaded to the sales order.
This is a cumbersome and repetitive process and although it does not take a lot of time for one attachment, this task is performed multiple times a day. This makes the amount of time spent on this enormous. And since it is a manual task, it is prone to errors.
To alleviate the workload of employees, this process can be automated using SAP Intelligent RPA. The Bot can process e-mails and attachments 24/7 and your employees are free to use their time for tasks which add value to your company.
Proof of Concept
By making use of Intelligent RPA a Proof of Concept was developed aimed at solving this issue. This bot does the following:
- Open Outlook and search in the specified mailbox for unread e-mails.
- If an attachment meets the requirements, download it to the specified folder.
- Do this for all relevant e-mails and attachments until all are processed.
- Upload the attachment to the corresponding sales order in SAP Business ByDesign.
- Loop through all attachments until all are processed.
- End of process.
For some part, these are essentially the steps an employee needs to do. The big difference is that this is done in seconds instead of minutes. Furthermore, by using the Business ByDesign webservice, the bot does not have to perform all the steps in Business ByDesign like the user ought to do.
Some important things to take into account when developing your bot:
- Think ahead what you specifically want your bot to do, this way you do not run into problems later on; Draw your steps beforehand and create them in that order in Desktop Studio.
- Watch out when adding new steps in your existing workflow, this may cause conflicts with custom coding if you let the Desktop Studio build it. Always backup your custom code outside of the Desktop Studio!
- Always use an API when possible. This will result in a more stable bot than automating your process by screen capturing. (What if a screen fundamentally changes?)
- As always, test, test and test again. Make debug mode your friend.
Intelligent RPA solves certain issues as described in the business case. The POC is an example of how to alleviate employees of tedious and repetitive tasks. There are far more options where Intelligent RPA can make a significant difference.