My first impression of SAP Process Automation
In this blog post I will share my first impression of SAP Process Automation, which I’ve been exploring since it became generally available (GA) last week.
TLDR; SAP Process Automation unifies SAP Workflow Management and SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation. I really like how intuitive and simple it was for me to build/test/deploy an automation and build/deploy/run a simple workflow. I can see how business user can easily adopt this type of service to automate/build their processes.
What is SAP Process Automation?
SAP Process Automation combines capabilities from SAP Workflow Management and SAP Intelligent RPA. It is a low-code/no-code offering where a business user, a.k.a. citizen developer, can implement and automate a company’s business processes. It makes sense to have workflows and automations within a single offering, as in my view, when we look at improving business processes we generally see workflows and automations together.
Given that this is a new approach to building processes/ automations (low-code/no-code) there is no feature parity between SAP Process Automation components and the standalone components. There are minor changes in some automation SDKs and some things that can’t be achieved, e.g. complex modeling that was possible in SAP Workflow Management. That said, I imagine it is a matter of time until that parity is reached.
In the case of the process component of SAP Process Automation, under the hood it seems to run the same engine as SAP Workflow Management. I intuit this because if you have a subscription to SAP Workflow Management in the same subaccount, you will be able to see processes deployed from SAP Process Automation in the Workflow Management monitoring tools and viceversa. This is a known limitation.
The automation component is SAP Intelligent RPA and it works as expected. The main difference that I’ve seen is that there is no concept of environments as there is in SAP Intelligent RPA standalone.
Things that I really like
- Ease of use: I’m no expert in workflow or bot development and I found very intuitive the new UI when creating a few processes and bots in SAP Process Automation. It was relatively simple for me to pick up the tool. I guess this might be thanks to a few help tooltips within the tool which clearly explain what is needed.
- Centralised monitoring: Single place to check how your processes/automations run.
- Actions project: Very simple to import an OpenAPI spec and calling the action from a Process. This is very powerful.
- Advanced workflows: Call existing/deployed workflows from an SAP Process Automation process. This is important for an existing customer that have used extensibly SAP Workflow Management and will like to reuse/import these workflows as part of an SAP Process Automation process.
- Environment variables: I can create environment variables and configure them before deployment. Meaning I can manage my variables/connections independent of the process itself.
- Native integration between Processes and Automations: In SAP Process Automation we can easily configure to call an automation from a process. No calling APIs, drag the automation component, select the automation.
- Unified Store: Single place to find all the configurable content (processes/automations) that I can import and use.
Things that I would like to see
- Support for OData metadata to create Action projects: At the moment it is only possible to import OpenAPI specs.
- Group component in Lobby: An easy way to group the different components available in the lobby. At the moment I have a few projects (automation/process/action), SDKs as dependencies in my projects, an automation and a couple of processes imported from the store listed as projects… The list is already quite long and it looks a bit messy already. It will only grow larger the more automations/processes I implement in SAP Process Automation.
- Different project types: Most projects are of type Business Process, even SDKs which are related to the automation component. This will help with the previously point. Not sure why an SDK is listed/considered a project when it is a dependency.
- Reuse automation from other projects: When including automations in a process, it is only possible to create a new one or use one include in the project.
SAP Process Automation is GA since the 14th of February. It unifies SAP Workflow Management and SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation and although there are some rough edges, I really like how intuitive and simple it was for me to build/test/deploy an automation and build/deploy/run a simple workflow.
thank you very much for trying out SAP Process Automation and for providing this great feedback. In fact you are right, SAP Process Automation is the evolution of SAP Workflow Management and SAP intelligent Robotic Process Automation and it leverages the same runtimes and some advanced components, but adds new capabilities particularly for Citizen Developers.
Some of your findings have been conscious design decisions that we took / and take in order to dramatically improve the user experience for our customers and partners in building workflows and automations. In certain cases, we achieve feature parity while challenging the status quo so we can truly innovate how a Citizen Developer is able to work with a drag-and-drop / no-code tool.
Please have a look at our first roadmap entries here.
I would like to invite you to check regularly as we will update the progress we are making specifically on the "things you would like to see" .