The enormous advantages: It allows employees to be relieved of manual activities, the throughput time of processes to be significantly reduced and the error rate in the processes to be minimized. Read which business processes can already be automated and which tools SAP offers.
The automation of processes in SAP is not a vision of the future. The Walldorf-based group has been pushing process automation since 2018, when it announced the acquisition of Contextor, a French supplier in the field of robotic process automation (RPA).
Contextor's intelligent automation technology enables the planning, creation, management and monitoring of software bots. Since the takeover, the technology has been gradually integrated into all SAP applications - especially SAP S/4HANA.
More and more processes of the core applications can be automated through this. Third-party systems can also be connected with the RPA solution. Today it is called "SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation".
SAP automation basically means process automation in SAP applications. It is based on Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
In this technology, robots take on the role of humans to operate existing SAP systems via the user interface. Unlike in production, however, robots are not physical machines but software applications. This is usually done invisibly and in the background, although there is also talk of so-called dark processing.
SAP automation is particularly suitable for standardized processes. Such processes are repeated at high frequency and so far require numerous manual interventions. Among other things, the software bots can carry out the following actions autonomously:
A further development is the enrichment of bot capabilities with artificial intelligence. This enables software bots not only to process data, but to use it intelligently.
"Intelligent RPA" thus draws conclusions from data even before it works with them. Bots of this kind are also able to learn continuously. This enables them to make autonomous decisions based on past experience, if necessary".
SAP automation relieves companies and their employees of time-consuming manual work.
The bots used for this work around the clock. Likewise, their performance - unlike that of human employees - is not dependent on the daily form. They therefore always act without errors.
Robotic Process Automation thus brings efficiency and speed to business processes. This in turn results in higher customer satisfaction.
But employees also benefit from the relief of monotonous activities. From now on, they can concentrate on higher-value, more creative and value-adding task.
SAP Intelligent RPA consists of the following components:
In general, the cloud design process is as follows: First, processes are set up in Cloud Studio. Then the project is deployed and configured in Cloud Factory. Finally, it can be executed, whereby it is transferred to the Desktop Agent in advance.
With "Intelligent Robotic Process Automation", the Walldorf-based software group already offers numerous SAP automation functions. Companies can use the solution, for example, to automate business processes in the following areas:
In groups with several subsidiaries, intercompany reconciliation as part of financial statement activities is often an extremely complex process. Here RPA solutions can, for example, take over routine tasks such as checking and reconciling balances on intercompany accounts.
A classic use case of SAP automation is the incoming invoice process. Here, RPA can pick up incoming invoices from suppliers in various upstream systems such as portals or e-mail systems in order to subsequently check and post them.
The procurement of office supplies, IT accessories, auxiliary materials and similar low-priced items is an enormous cost factor.
It is true that e-procurement solutions have brought improvements in this context. However, procurement processes still offer cost-cutting potential. For example, software bots can take over the use of procurement portals and place orders there.
Another time-consuming administrative task in purchasing is the recording of order confirmations from suppliers. Today, these are often received by e-mail.
As a rule, purchasing staff have to open the e-mails, save the confirmation and enter it manually into the ERP system. Steps of this kind are also well suited for the functions of Intelligent Robotic Process Automation.
In the HR sector, the onboarding of new employees sometimes causes a lot of effort. Often the data on new employees must be maintained in different systems.
It is also necessary to register them for training courses and to comply with the legal reporting requirements. Last but not least, IT authorizations and roles must be assigned. All these processes can be automated using SAP RPA.
A classic administrative process in sales is the creation of new customer master data. Especially in regulated industries such as banking, this is a costly undertaking.
Among other things, external services are used in this area to evaluate the authenticity or creditworthiness of new customers. This collection of information and its transfer to the SAP customer base can be mapped using Robotic Process Automation.
The automation of processes in SAP can be carried out not only with the in-house tools from Walldorf, but also with a number of third-party tools.
One of the best-known external providers for SAP automation is UiPath. The company follows a shared service approach so that other providers can also develop and provide independent components based on the UiPath platform.
This has led to the development of numerous innovative features - for example in the areas of Natural Language Processing (NLP), Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR), Chatbots and Machine Learning (ML).
Another provider in the SAP automation field is Automation Anywhere. The solution is aimed at medium-sized and large companies and includes several hundred pre-configured bots. The RPA software is also generally regarded as intuitive and user-friendly.
The RPA provider Blue Prism should also be mentioned. The platform is considered to be particularly secure and trustworthy. It is therefore used not only by large corporations but also by public sector organizations. The RPA solution is technically based on the Microsoft .net framework.
Whether companies decide to use SAP onboard resources or an external RPA tool ultimately depends on their individual requirements. Important selection factors are application compatibility, end-to-end process automation, interface security, scalability of the solution and the available operating models.
Nooxit also relies on AI solutions for SAP - and has already developed four products for SAP systems based on machine and deep learning technologies. Nooxit has developed the assistants for the SAP areas Finance, Controlling and Logistics.
The assistants are available as plug-and-play solutions. They can be booked individually or as a solution package.
Companies can purchase the assistants as a Software-as-a-Service solution. In the cloud area, Nooxit relies on the cloud solution from Amazon (AWS). If desired, the assistants are also available for on-premises systems.
So far, four AI assistants are available: the reversal assistant, an assistant for master data maintenance and two assistants for account determination for invoices without order.
The reversal assistant was Nooxit's first product and is currently in daily use at one of the world's largest automotive suppliers, for example. The reversal assistant recognizes potential reversals in real-time when a document is entered - and warns users so that they can directly avoid the error that would result in a reversal.
The two account finder wizards suggest the correct G/L accounts or cost centers to users for invoices without a purchase order - thus saving an enormous amount of time. The accounts do not have to be manully selected which can be cumbersome, but are displayed immediately - one click and the job is done.
Nooxit also offers a solution in the area of master data maintenance: the Master Data Assistant. It prevents incorrect entries via the GUI, because it has learned from historic data where most errors occur during entry. Complex rework is thus avoided right from the beginning.
The Nooxit AI assistants are available as a plug-and-play solution. A complex and time-consuming installation is therefore not necessary, nor is programming knowledge on the part of the user. The payment model is very simple: companies only pay for what they need (pay per use).
The AI relieves users of monotonous work. This allows employees to concentrate on more value-adding activities. The assistants can increase the efficiency of processes by up to 20 percent. This is shown by the results from practical applications.
The Nooxit reversal assistant, for example, can help companies - per 1 billion euros revenue - to save costs of up to 250,000 euros. For a group with a revenue of 10 billion euros, this results in a savings potential of around 2.5 million euros.