A couple of months ago, Diego Lomanto, our Vice President (VP) of Product Marketing, published two great articles about the fully automated enterprise™.
For those who haven't had a chance to read the articles yet, a fully automated enterprise "is a company that is using automation to its fullest potential."
A fully automated enterprise takes a proactive approach to automation, and a traditional enterprise takes a reactive one. A fully automated enterprise thinks ‘automation first’ and applies automation where it makes the most sense and can have the greatest impact.
-Diego Lomanto, VP of Product Marketing, UiPath
Today, I’d like to take a closer look at what that means for SAP customers.
When automating on top of the SAP technology stack, I recommend three considerations that will accelerate your journey in becoming a fully automated enterprise:
Make multi-application automations simple
Reduce the amount of necessary SAP expert work
Create synergies between SAP business process automations and SAP testing
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems by SAP have been around for over four decades. So, many people assume that whatever can be automated within SAP S/4HANA itself, has most certainly already been automated by SAP.
So, where is the potential for robotic process automation (RPA) and automation on top of SAP?
Even though we tend to think of SAP as an encapsulated system, this does not reflect typical business processes. They typically start or end outside of SAP, and in many cases even outside of your own enterprise. So, in order to automate all automatable work, look at what happens when your workflow enters or leaves the SAP system.
Does the workflow gap between different systems slow down your complete business process?
Is your process lifecycle dependent on the performance of one person handling data entries, reports, and analyses?
Or is there a way to guarantee the time span and the accuracy of your data transfers?
Breaking down your application silos is especially relevant when looking at processes that span multiple platforms, for example a customer relationship management (CRM) system like Salesforce, a ticketing system like Jira or ServiceNow, and updates to communication channels like Slack or Microsoft Teams and outgoing emails.
In these cases, it is important for SAP customers to have a choice between user interface (UI) automations with robots that will mimic a typical end user workflow and API automations that integrate through native integrations to ensure the best performance for high-volume automations.
By equipping RPA with API automation capabilities, we eliminate unnatural borders between enterprise applications. As a result, you are another leap closer to automating everything that is automatable and reducing back-office work to an absolute minimum. Being able to deploy out-of-the-box API integrations also reduces the development efforts needed to scale your automations as the technical hurdles to create new software robots are drastically reduced.
UiPath offers rich integrations (free of charge) for your core applications on UiPath Marketplace to simplify automations. Our activity packs for native integrations are also directly accessible to customers in UiPath Studio via our official feed. Combining API integrations with the world-class UI automation capabilities means UiPath customers have a choice to pick the best approach for their business use cases and technology-specific challenges.
If you have been a long-term customer of SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA you can probably tell us a thing or two about the scarcity of SAP experts in the job market, such as ABAP developers. So, whatever helps to make robot integration simpler and more user friendly for non-experts will help you automate faster. And when you make integrations simpler, you become more agile in your RPA development because you don’t need to rely on very specialized experts. Your automation center of excellence (CoE) can handle complex workflows with little to no help on the SAP side.
To turn this into a reality for our SAP customers, we have created accelerators for SAP ECC and SAP S/4HANA. The accelerators contain over 200 ready-to-go workflows for the most used transactions and applications in SAP ECC and SAP S/4HANA. The accelerators can be downloaded directly from UiPath Marketplace. They are built for both SAP WinGUI automation as well as via SAP BAPI to ensure the highest flexibility and robustness.
The following UiPath accelerators are currently available:
For SAP S/4HANA
For SAP ECC
Accelerator for SAP S/4HANA for Basis Administration
Accelerator for SAP ECC for Basis Administration
Accelerator for SAP S/4HANA for Sales
Accelerator for SAP ECC for Sales
Accelerator for SAP S/4HANA for Finance
Accelerator for SAP ECC for Finance
Accelerator for SAP S/4HANA for Procurement
Accelerator for SAP ECC for Procurement
UiPath Accelerator for SAP S/4HANA for Manufacturing
UiPath Accelerator for SAP ECC for Manufacturing
UiPath Foundation pack for Accelerators for SAP S/4HANA
UiPath Foundation pack for Accelerators for SAP ECC
Let's take a look at some common examples where you can put these UiPath SAP accelerators to work.
Many UiPath customers use the activities in our Accelerator for SAP S/4HANA for Sales in combination with the UiPath Salesforce connector to automate the sales order creation process end to end.
When an opportunity in Salesforce has been marked as “closed won,” the UiPath Salesforce connector kicks off the robot. The robot then enters the customer and sales order data in SAP and books the new sales order.
Additional steps such as preparing for the delivery or notifying other internal teams can also be included as part of the automated workflow. Sales employees can use the time gained to take even better care of their customers or pursue additional sales opportunities.
In addition to activities for creating or changing sales orders, the Accelerator for SAP S/4HANA for Sales contains activities for creating new customer information, business partner information, billing documents, deliveries, and many more.
Using these out-of-the-box automations in our accelerators will help your RPA developers deeply integrate with SAP both on UI and BAPI levels without having to consult SAP specialists.
To become a fully automated enterprise, let’s not forget the large field of automated SAP testing. Testing typically costs enterprises a lot of resources, from building test cases to continuously testing business processes but also existing automations after an SAP update. UiPath provides a full test suite that helps companies continuously automate and scale testing.
Use our accelerators to create huge volumes of test data for all your test cases. You can also quickly update small pieces of information by using the accelerators to change specific parts of SAP business documents and test different variants of your test cases.
The employee onboarding process is an example of a very tedious, long running, and typically manual process. In this example, the IT department needs to perform several tasks with a variety of different aspects depending on the role, level, or status (permanent vs. non-permanent, full-time employee vs. contractor) of the new employee.
Our Accelerator for SAP S/4HANA for Basis Administration contains activities to automatically create new users in SAP or change user-role assignments. Robots can take over the majority of these tedious tasks, enabling the IT department to focus on adding more meaningful value and engage with internal customers.
Did you know that RPA and test automation are actually siblings? The don’t look alike and they have quite different life purposes, but they are from the same ‘breed’ and they work side by side as a wonderful team when it comes to all your automation needs.
Few vendors are experts for both process automation as well as test automation, but there are huge savings hidden in reusing your already-created test cases in a similar way for process automation and vice versa.
When carving out your strategy for automating your business processes, make sure to leverage the synergies from combining both your process automation and your testing strategies. Using the same platform for both testing and RPA will help you to cut down on maintenance and boost testing efficiency.
So, when creating your RPA strategy on top of SAP, ask yourself the following three questions:
Have we considered the end-to-end business process, both within and outside of SAP systems? (Compare your list of core applications with these native integrations)
Are we reducing expert work by leveraging pre-built components? (As a start, check out our accelerators)
Are we leveraging synergies between RPA and testing? (If you need more information on testing, download the playbook “Continuous Automation, Continuous Testing”)