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Author's profile photo Andreas Welsch

Unlocking value from intelligent processes in SAP S/4HANA in 30 minutes

Quick wins for quick value

In their recent Artificial Intelligence Emerging Technologies Radar 2020, Gartner predict that intelligent applications (business applications such as ERP with embedded AI) will become more prevalent in the next 1-3 years. But why wait?

Intelligence is already embedded in end-to-end business processes in SAP S/4HANA and the capabilities and coverage are growing continuously. With the latest update of SAP S/4HANA Cloud (Release 2011), there are several new capabilities specifically worthy of note, many of which are already included in the license or subscription for SAP S/4HANA and can be enabled via the corresponding scope item. But what it costs is only one side of the equation. Increasingly, decision makers and process owners are inclined to take Warren Buffett’s quote ‘Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.’ one step further, by asking ‘What value can I expect?’

The business value of intelligent processes

If you are in the market for a new car and you ask three people what value means to them, you’ll likely get five different answers. The same is true for plans to inject intelligence into your business processes. The question of value is not new, nor is it specific to intelligent processes. In fact, it is probably as old as mankind and the evolution of such processes as hunting and gathering. Nonetheless, as with every technology evolution or trend, one would like to understand what (improvement) to expect. In business, this could be increasing sales and revenue, or achieving higher efficiency of operations leading to increased net income. That is why SAP takes the view that with SAP S/4HANA, intelligence brings the outcome into focus. But the question remains: What is your desired outcome and your benchmark to measure the actual outcome against?

Whatever your approach to intelligent processes and innovation may be, these capabilities cannot be an afterthought. Let’s come back to the car-buying analogy for a moment. You wouldn’t buy a car and then try to retrofit the latest intelligent safety and convenience features. Technically, it might be possible, but it doesn’t make economic sense. And similarly, value and intelligent processes need to be an integral part of your SAP S/4HANA implementation or migration from the get-go.


Four aspects of value: Feasibility, scalability, desirability, and viability

SAP has developed an AI value framework that helps customers assess the value of an intelligent process capability. Within product management, we use it to assess the feasibility, scalability, desirability, and viability of an idea prior to vetting it with customers. In a two-part post, David Smith (SAP Business Transformation Services) focuses on the benefits of an outcome-focused implementation of SAP S/4HANA and how you too can apply the AI value framework. So, where should you start?


Increase the value of your process through intelligence in 30 minutes


Making it tangible with SAP S/4HANA Cloud Release 2011

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses around the world, process owners are looking for quick wins that deliver tangible value within a matter of hours or days. While the combination of intelligent capabilities in SAP S/4HANA increase the total value in a business process, individual capabilities can already be a good incremental improvement and a quick win. Let’s look at a few specific examples available with SAP S/4HANA Cloud Release 2011.

1) Situation Handling

Time to value: 30 minutes
Situation Handling in SAP S/4HANA enables end-users to receive proactive notifications about business situations that require their attention. There are currently 69 situation templates available for processes spanning all lines of business. Configuring a situation template for your process typically takes less than 30 minutes. You can find additional step-by-step information in this 5-part blog series and an up-to-date overview of all available situation templates on
For example, with SAP S/4HANA Cloud Release 2011, SAP just delivered 15 new situation templates; four of which enhance solution order management. Imagine the following business scenario: A customer buys a printer solution for their office. In this solution the partner would deliver the printer, provide a service technician for its installation, and would maintain a year’s contract for its service. However, due to unavailability of stock, the printer’s delivery date must now be postponed by 10 days. The printer’s installation date is scheduled 5 days from the older delivery date. Because the printer installation is dependent on the delivery of the printer, a situation is raised, notifying the solution order specialist to make the necessary adjustments and inform the customer. Thereby, this situation template directly influences a higher customer engagement and satisfaction.
Delivery date of the sales item in the solution order has been changed

Situation template: Delivery date of the sales item in the solution order has been changed


2) Intelligent Robotic Process Automation

Time to value: 4-8 hours
SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation enables you to automate tasks in a business process. To help jumpstart your project, SAP currently provides more than 70 bot templates out of the box for SAP S/4HANA. To get started, you can sign up for a free trial of SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation and download and edit the available templates. Depending upon the number of homegrown or third-party applications you want to integrate your bot with, your bot can be ready within a matter of hours. Following this approach, an SAP customer in the chemicals industry now saves approximately 25% of effort per year in processing supplier invoices.

Intelligent processes enabled by SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation


3) Embedded AI

Time to value: 2-3 days
There are more than a dozen AI-based capabilities embedded directly into end-to-end business processes in SAP S/4HANA and included with your license or subscription. The machine learning models behind these capabilities can be trained and activated directly from within SAP S/4HANA step-by-step. Depending upon the available data in your system and the time required for model training, you can enable and pilot an embedded AI capability within 2-3 days.

In SAP S/4HANA Cloud Release 2011 SAP has added the ability for sales orders to be created automatically from incoming documents such as PDFs, e-mails, and faxes. This helps businesses accelerate sales by allowing internal sales representatives to focus just on those items that require their attention and process the total volume of sales orders with higher efficiency and accuracy.

Sales order automation with SAP S/4HANA Cloud Release 2011


What’s next?

In the next post, I’ll cover more on what’s planned for the upcoming releases and how you can influence the SAP S/4HANA roadmap. Also, consider joining SAP TechEd session DT811 to learn what’s ahead in the SAP S/4HANA Intelligent ERP roadmap and SAP TechEd session DT915 for an Expert Q&A session on getting started with your first Intelligent ERP use case.

This is the third post in a blog series focused on intelligent processes in SAP S/4HANA, aimed at sharing more details on SAP’s vision, how you can enable intelligent process thinking in your organization, and how you can get started in your environment. The previous posts have introduced intelligent processes and SAP’s approach to intelligent automation.



Andreas Welsch is Head of Intelligent Processes, SAP S/4HANA Product Management.

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