Erhan OK/ November 24, 2018/ ERP, RPA, SAP/ 1 comments

Companies Business Process Automation needs keep growing. In addition to automation via Robotics, there are initiatives or projects called “Automation” which is aiming to improve ERP system processes or do integration to it in order to automate….something…

There is also automation in testing (in IT for software applications prior to releases), automation in factories (in production lines), automation in DevOps (Continuous Integration /Continuous Deployment) and so on…

There are many areas where we hear about “automation” and which causes confusion among the different teams/functions/departments at the organizations.

Before the RPA journey starts, the meaning of automation in
BPA (Business Process Automation) should be clearly stated.

Why so?

It will help not only to clarify what BPA is taking in scope. It is going to help in defining automation footprint at the certain organization.

What automation means in the scope of BPA?

Automating business processes by simulating the operational business process and by utilizing current target systems through an RPA tool.

Let’s put it on this way now;

  • Process name: Master Data, Material Creation and Extension
  • Operational process: Master Data department, Team 1 receives a request to create and extend a new material. Team 1 analyst performs creation and extension on an ERP1 system (specific to requestor’s entity) by following Material Creation and Extension Standard Operating Procedure. Team 1 analyst informs the requestor that new material is created and extended.
  • Target system: ERP1 (to perform work on), Outlook (to receive request), Excel (to receive material details)
  • The scope of Robotic Process Automation: BOT to track inbox in order to receive requests and its details. BOT to extract material details and do a cross check if data is valid. BOT to login ERP1, fill the Material Creation form, submit the form and complete extension. BOT to respond to the email by confirming Material Creation and Extension is completed for the respective request.

What automation means in the scope of ERP system change?

Automating ERP system processes by further developing and by utilizing all operational insights through IT development teams.

Let’s put it on this way now;

  • System process name: Source to Pay, Invoice Posting
  • Operational insight: Invoice Posting team is receiving the Purchase Order (PO) confirmation’s in a scanned PDF format, which is one of the key input to proceed further in payment. However, due to a lot of manual work and high volume, they can’t response the demand. There is an integration need to push PO confirmation details into the system automatically
  • Target systems: ERP1 (Where PO confirmations must be uploaded), SYSTEM1 (which extracts PO confirmation details from scanned version to digital)
  • The scope of ERP Automation (rather fix): Build 2 development teams who do further development to generate standard data structure based on extracted PO confirmation from SYSTEM1, and push it to ERP automatically via a new service developed by them also.

As a summary, both automation brings value to the business obviously. However, as RPA focuses on operational process automation compared to system integration which brings furthermore benefits as follows;

  • Less cost in development, in time of planning, development, testing, and maintenance.
  • Higher velocity in delivering the solution
  • Capability to automate the end-to-end process (no load remains on operational users)
  • Flexibility in adjusting BOT with low cost in development if target system change
  • Ability to collaborate with knowledge workers
  • Agility in accommodating changes at “input” data
  • Ability to accommodate business process exceptions specific to the team, country and so on.

And many more…

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting article! I believe that another argument for RPA tools is that learning the skills to use them is faster and they are more easily transferable for automating other processes than with ERP automation. Would you say that RPA automation is always superior to ERP automation? I wonder whether there are cases in which the effort of maintenance for an RPA bot due to GUI changes may be larger than the maintenance for a conventional data integration solution…

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