SAP Intelligent RPA and Ariba: Automate Non-PO Invoicing
In early December we had a Hackathon with SAP partners that was focused on using SAP Intelligent RPA with SAP Ariba. You can view the summary of that Hackathon in this blogpost from the Co-Innovation Lab. This Hackathon challenged partners to design and develop a use case for automation with Ariba. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing use cases in a series of use case spotlights.
In our third post we will spotlight the use case from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). The TCS team developed a bot to automate Non-PO Invoicing in Ariba. With this automation TCS estimates it would reduce invoice processing time by 60% by removing the repetitive, no-value-added tasks. Their workflow is designed to handle a variety of Non-PO Invoices and do as much of the task as possible, if the bot is unable to continue processing an invoice it can defer the invoice for manual processing.
By designing the bot with a failsafe, like manual processing, the bot can be designed and deployed quickly to address the bulk of the issues. By analyzing the process to find which non-PO invoices require the most time, they can be targeted to be automated first. This allows the team that had been processing invoices manually to have the bandwidth to manually check only the invoices the bot can not process. Then the development team can onboard additional vendors and increase the amount of non-PO invoices that can be automatically processed by a bot.
The team designed the bot to have a fairly linear process flow which has verification steps to ensure the bot is able to process the invoice automatically. If the bot is unable to continue processing an invoice it will defer it to be manually processed. For a best case invoice the process is:
- Bot logs into Ariba
- Navigates to Invoice Tab and search for Non-PO Invoices
- Update all missing info for the invoice
- Review the list of exceptions and check if there are exceptions of the same type
- If exceptions are of the same type, accept all
- Invoice is processed and bot moves to the next one
If the bot encounters multiple types of exceptions it will click the action for each exception and defer the invoice to be manually processed if necessary.
In this process the invoices that can not be processed are left in the queue for manual processing. This could be improved by leveraging the outlook library to notify the team that does the manual processing. With the outlook library the bot could be configured to send an email to the processing team once the bot has completed processing the ones it is programmed to process. The outlook library allows attachments to be sent, so as the bot is processing it could capture a list of the POs it could not complete and the reason. This is then beneficial for the team doing the manual processing so they have the information the bot captured. And it helps the bot development team by capturing a list of which invoices could not be processed, allowing them to be targeted for future improvements. For more information on the Outlook Library you can visit this post from my colleague which covers the functionality of the library.
The team from TCS estimates a variety of business benefits, a few highlights are:
- 60% reduction in invoice processing time
- 80% reduction in posting errors
- 50% improvement of on-time payments
These benefits all contribute to improved supplier relations and with an average of 15-20% of invoices being non-PO invoices this could provide annual savings between .5-2 Million USD for a mid to large size organization.
Have a great day and happy bot building!
This is the third use case spotlight in the series, you can check out the first two posts in the links below:
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