SAP has already announced to make available RPA tool Contextor pre-built into the S/4 Hana. Contextor will be an inbuilt component that should allow business users to automate the transactions they usually work on. So, what does this mean? Business users will need to delve more and better understand the processes they transact on the SAP system to help design RPA workflows. How would one go about it? One way is to define KPIs and then monitor processes against those KPIs. But how correct can you be when you re-engineer your processes by defining KPIs? Does it provide any insight into the variability in a process? The archaic way of starting with fact-finding is time-consuming, prone to human bias and effort hungry. Can expert opinions help? Expert opinions are highly subjective and seldom there is any consensus on deciding the way forward. But SAP has an answer.

For S/4 Hana, the SAP landscape now provides integration with process mining tool Celonis.

How does process mining help?

Every transaction performed on the SAP system is recorded as a set of events. These events are logged and saved to the database. The original purpose of event logging would have been to analyze transaction failures. Now, the same event logs will provide process visibility and allow process re-engineering by weeding out inefficiencies.

The Celonis toolkit sources all raw event data directly from the databases and different systems. On top of this, sits a powerful analytical engine which with the help of a web interface layer provides great visualizations on process-flows. All variant Process streams can be viewed by animating the flow sequence. One can further drill down these animated process streams to uncover efficiencies. This level of process analytics prepares the business user in recording all exception situations that occur and how they are handled, which in turn is an input in designing RPA workflows.

What does process mining achieve?

Process stability is a critical criterion for a process to qualify for automation. Variations in the process affect process stability and should be curtailed. More the variations in the process, more complex the RPA workflows. At times the complexity can be too high for RPA to be applied.

Celonis SAP Process Mining processes the organization’s data in real-time, identifies bottlenecks and areas for potential improvement and presents them in a clear, graphical form. Celonis Process Mining is fully integrated into the SAP HANA database. With the high analytical capabilities and highly efficient algorithms offered by SAP HANA, users can monitor and detect inefficient business processes and plan actions aimed at their optimization.

What is Integrated Process Automation?

It is very unlikely that RPA alone will succeed. Organizations will have to put together resources and tools for integrated process automation. Integrated Process automation works well when a process has already been digitized and its workflow normalized; when process discovery to bot deployment can be aided by machines using integrations, be it Celonis for process mining or any other components such as Abbyy Flexicapture for machine learning or Watson NLP for Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is for this reason that RPA should succeed the digital transformation initiatives and not the other way around.  When there is enough traction in the digitization of processes, the application scope of RPA also increases. Digitization of processes needs to be carried out not just from a technology perspective but from a business process perspective as well. Integrated Automation is how you transform your business and achieve an end-to-end Digital Office.

Consider a use case where a Letter of Credit (LC) needs to be created by the bank for one of its customers. Without digitization, almost the entire process happens on paper. Customer fills out LC application on paper. LC gets approved on paper. The file moves through various departments and is approved by the respective section heads on paper. The File then is handed over to a human operator who keys in the data into a Financial Trading module. After verification of the data entered into the system, a SWIFT message is released and piped into another web app. The digitization here starts very late into the process. Had every step of this process been digitized right from when the customer fills out the LC form, it then would have been a perfect candidate for RPA to be applied. Enterprises need to look at how best to leverage RPA with their existing technology mix to achieve any meaningful results.

It is difficult to automate processes, part of which remain non-digitized. Organizations must first truly digitize their processes before getting onto the RPA bandwagon. The use of RPA in SAP is a perfect example. While initially, stakeholders would have been interested in automating the bits and pieces, piecemeal by piecemeal, the digitization of data allows the very same stakeholders to revise their RPA approach for enterprise-wide adoption. Enterprise-wide adoption is where the real value of RPA gets delivered.  Connect with us to discuss your RPA requirements.

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