Creating your first SAP Process Automation project: Part 1 – Subscribing and understanding the components
Every organization is looking for ways to drive process efficiencies, improve agility by adaption to changing business needs and deliver an exceptional employee & customer experience. With scarcity of IT developers within organizations who are usually engaged on large transformational project, we are starting to see the rise of the Citizen Developers who are keen to participate and either change or simplify processes within their line-of-business. These Citizen Developers have the domain and process knowledge and with little training, they can be empowered to use intuitive tools to quickly build apps and automation in their organization. SAP has been making a big investment and doubling down on Citizen Developer Strategy. There are over 230 million SAP Cloud application users worldwide and with this strategy, SAP is attempting to close the skill gap and show a path for these users to become Citizen developers. This was called out by Juergen MUELLER in the recent SAP TechEd.
Within the new Low-code/No-Code portfolio in SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) , there are solutions which can help citizen developers with Application Development and Process Automation. I had earlier posted a blog series on “Get Started with Low-Code/No-Code Application Development on SAP BTP“.
This week SAP announced the availability of SAP Process Automation combining the capabilities of SAP Workflow Management & SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation into an intuitive no-code experience. This is a significant step towards simplifying process automation and enabling more people within the organization to participate in automating processes.You can read the news article published by Bhagat Nainani.
Here is a short 3 minute video which provides a good insight on SAP Process Automation. I really enjoyed watching this and I hope you find it interesting.
This blog series is all about process automation where I will cover how you can get started and walk you through and E2E example which showcases the capabilities which are part of the initial launch. So, if you are business/IT expert and are looking for ways to quickly automate processes to drive efficiencies, follow this blog series and find out how you can become a Citizen Developer and be a champion of change.
|Getting started with SAP Process Automation
SAP Process Automation is available in SAP BTP as part of CPEA or Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) commercial models. If you don’t have access to one, you can get started with PAYG. Follow this SAP Developer Tutorial for step-by-step guidance on how to create a new Pay-as-you-go account (PAYG).
You can find more info on SAP Process Automation by accessing SAP Discovery center. You will be able to see information on DC availability, Pricing, and more assets when they are made available.
SAP Process Automation is now available to try free of charge on SAP BTP free tier.
Subscribing to SAP Process Automation using boosters
Boosters are a set of guided interactive steps that enable you to select, configure, and consume services on SAP BTP. You can find boosters at the Global Account level and start them to configure the relevant service. For this demonstration, I am using my BTP account (PAYG).
Follow the guided wizards and select the relevant option. Notice all the required service entitlements. The booster will assign these entitlements and add the necessary authorizations for you to begin with the service.
You can now launch SAP Process Automation from the subscriptions menu of your BTP subaccount.
Exploring SAP Process Automation
When you logon to SAP Process Automation, you will be taken to lobby where you can centrally view and manage all your projects.
You can create Business Process Projects or an Action Project. Think of Business Process project as a way to group tasks and processes for a business scenario. It could consist of several steps which can be included as skills. For example, the Business Process could include automation, approval forms, Condition, business rules and Process Visibility Dashboards. Action Projects encapsulate external APIs which are required by your business scenarios. These APIs are typically created by the IT team and provided for Citizen Developers to consume as part of the Business Process Projects.
The process builder is an intuitive visual editor where you can add all the required skills and wire them together using the connectors. In the below example of a Capex Process, for illustration I have used forms, workflow approvals steps, Automation etc
You can use the Form Editor to create interactive Forms or Approval Forms. A simple editor is provided to design these forms. You will be able to see Input field, Drop downs, Date controls etc with basic validation capabilities.
Business Rules Editor
The Business Rules editor is also available as part of the Decision skills and could be used to determine certain values based on logic/decision tables. In the below example, I have created one to determine the approver based on certain values in the Capex request form. For those who have used SAP Workflow Management, this is the same functionality.
An automation editor is also available to design all the automation (RPA) activities. This is similar to the Cloud Studio which some of you might have used as part of SAP Intelligent RPA. You can add all the dependent SDKs and use the drag and drop function to model your automation scenario.
Another important aspect which has been added to SAP Process Automation is to empower the business users to see how their automation are performing and the impact on those business processes. Users can create rich dashboards against different process performance indicators and see how they are performing in real-time. Again, this is something which has been available as part of SAP Workflow Management and is now integrated within SAP Process Automation.
Once you have created all these artifacts, you can view and edit them at any time from the Business Process Project.
SAP Process Automation also offers standard Workflow and RPA Automation bot contents which can accelerate automation projects.
The store has a collection of these standard contents which can be imported into your lobby and used for your automation scenarios.
My Inbox & Integration into central Fiori Launchpad
End users who either would trigger the automation via Forms or managers who would approve tasks can access relevant applications from the Fiori Launchpad which would need to be configured on SAP BTP. This also includes the Process Visibility dashboards which would be used by business users to view how their business processes are performing. Below I have shown how you can launch “My Inbox” app to action work items. All these apps can be integrated into a central Launchpad to make it easier for end users to trigger automation and monitor the processes. I will cover the Fiori Launchpad configuration in this blog series too.
I hope this blog post has given you some insights on some of the key building blocks on SAP Process Automation. In the next blog post, I will share with you the steps to automate a simple scenario.
For those, who are looking to learn more about Low-Code/No-Code capabilities of SAP BTP, I would recommend this free course which is available as a Learning Journey.
To get started with BTP Free Tier and create your first Process Automation project, follow this blog post “SAP Process Automation: Free Tier is out, create your own automations!“