SAP Intelligent RPA and Ariba: Source to Pay Automation
In December of 2020 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. I have been writing a series of spotlights for the use cases presented in that Hackathon, you can find links to the other blogposts at the bottom of this post.
In our seventh post we will spotlight the use case from NTT Data. The group worked to develop a bot to handle the source to pay process. The invoicing process can generally involve manual data entry or manual data verification which at the scale of a large business can become a large and highly repetitive task. Large, highly repetitive tasks are perfect candidates for automation with Intelligent RPA, and NTT designed a bot that is capable of processing invoices from a variety of vendors with a variety of formats.
The team was able to accomplish this by leveraging existing NTT workflows for document scanning. This existing workflow was added to the process and allowed the bot to process invoices in a variety of formats. This ability to reuse existing work is a great way to increase ROI on process development because it can eliminate rework and accelerate project development.
The bot that NTT developed uses the outlook integrations as well as image recognition to automate the receiving process and update the good receipt to confirm the order was completed. Then once the invoice document is received as a PDF a bot can scan that PDF invoice and use optical character recognition (OCR) to scan the document for the necessary details. Then once the invoice is posted to Ariba the bot can then email the AP team and the vendor if necessary. In the process diagram below you can see the flow of the process and when Intelligent RPA has been used to automate the highly repetitive segments of this process.
By automating a process like this which previously involved a large amount of manual effort, there are multiple benefits. The primary benefits are around the increased speed of processing, and the reduction in errors. However, with automation there are now opportunities to further increase the benefits like improving cashflows by paying on the optimized day per the payment agreements. For example if a vendor has 2/10 net 30 payment terms the bot could know to pay on the 10th day. This way the bot ensures the invoice has been paid before the discount is lost, but not unnecessarily early.
Beyond the financial benefits, automation like this can also improve the user experience for the teams working on these processes. A bot can send reporting to the necessary stakeholders and ensure they have the information they need in their inbox.
With this use case the team from NTT predicts that manual entry effort could be reduced 91% and a team that implements this could see a ROI within 6 months of deployment, with further savings possible with additional optimization.
Have a great day and happy bot building!
This is the seventh use case spotlight in the series, you can check out the first six blogposts in the links below:
SAP Intelligent RPA
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