Applying Hyperautomation to SAP Processes for Better Business Results
As the world emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, enterprises began to increase their focus on digital transformation. As those investments bear fruit, business leaders are doubling-down on their commitment to technological innovation.
To maximize the benefits of those initiatives, companies focus on increasing their overall agility, executing faster, and improving the quality and integrity of their data.
Agility: To remain competitive, businesses must be able to pivot quickly when technology innovations become available and as new market disruptions come to light.
Speed: As the pace of business continues to accelerate, leaders recognize the need to move faster and outpace the competition.
Data integrity: Leaders also recognize the need to improve the quality and integrity of their most important data. For many organizations, that means paying considerable attention to SAP master data and the processes for creating and managing that information.
As UK-based analyst firm HFS has noted, data is the currency of digital transformation. Automation initiatives have taken on an especially prominent role in the wake of the global pandemic. It’s vital to understand the relationship between data integrity and automation.
It’s folly to embark on a process improvement initiative without looking at the data the process creates and manages. When a business process has the potential to create bad data, then automating that process can generate a lot of bad data very quickly. As the world moves toward hyperautomation, attention to data integrity takes on even greater significance.
What Is Hyperautomation?
The term “hyperautomation” was coined by Gartner several years ago. Gartner defines it as “a business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.” Gartner goes on to say that hyperautomation “involves the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools or platforms, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, event-driven software architecture, robotic process automation (RPA), business process management (BPM) and intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS), integration platform as a service (iPaaS), low-code/no-code tools, packaged software, and other types of decision, process, and task automation tools.”
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Hyperautomation has been around for five or six years now, but it has really taken off over the past few years, as businesses have recognized the critical value of agility and speed.
As a practical matter, businesses must first consider how to automate as many things as possible across their organizations. As Gartner has noted, this inevitably requires the use of multiple technologies, tools, and platforms. No single platform can do everything, so organizations should adopt a portfolio approach.
One of the world’s largest alcoholic beverage manufacturers articulated this philosophy, noting: “We have Blue Prism and Precisely Automate, and we choose the best tool on a case-by-case basis.”
Hyperautomation for SAP
For organizations running SAP, the master data residing in that ERP system is essential, serving as the primary system of record for most business processes.
Precisely’s customers use Automate Studio and Automate Evolve to achieve better, faster results while building and maintaining high levels of data integrity.
Automate Studio is a desktop Excel-to-SAP platform that enables business users to easily automate complex SAP business processes and make mass data changes quickly and easily.
Automate Evolve is a workflow engine that digitizes complex, strategic data processes such as product launches, customer or vendor onboarding, GL account setup, and plant maintenance.
Combining these two products provides companies with a complete automation platform designed specifically with SAP data and processes in mind. Precisely has spent the last 20 years automating SAP processes, so both of these products reflect a deep understanding of the company’s ERP products and the unique needs of SAP users.
Automate Studio offers a simple but extraordinarily efficient means of managing SAP data using Microsoft Excel as the primary interface. Automate Evolve adds workflow automation using Excel or web-based forms and workflows that simplify and streamline complex business processes.
Use Cases in SAP Hyperautomation
Common use cases for SAP automation include data creation, data maintenance and transformation, data migration, and data integration.
Automate Studio enables you to quickly and easily create new master data such as materials, vendors, and customers, then load those records into your SAP systems with the push of a button. Users can also make mass changes to SAP data. For example, mass pricing updates or changes to vendor master records are easy to manage in Excel. Once the changes are complete, they can be updated within SAP using automation.
Many customers also use Automate Studio for data migration and data integration. Automate Studio makes it easy to load legacy system data into your common SAP ERP system during implementation or incorporate master records from a recently acquired company. Some organizations have used Automate Studio to migrate data from their SAP ECC instance into SAP S/4HANA.
Precisely Automate supports a wide range of data integration use cases as well, enabling users to quickly and easily load Excel data from other sources into their SAP applications. It applies the same business logic and user permissions as the SAP GUI, giving you complete control over your data and application security, assuring data integrity in the process.
If you need flexible, enterprise-grade workflows, Automate Evolve can serve more complex requirements, offering a no-code, low-code design interface that enables business teams to operate efficiently at any scale.
This is especially useful for scenarios where multiple users and departments touch on the business process. This often starts with a process initiator who enters some basic data, after which other constituents throughout the organization must make their own contributions or review entered data. When everyone has added their data and reviewed a record or transaction, it can automatically post the data to SAP without further intervention. That drives tremendous efficiencies, especially for very complex processes.
Developing a Successful SAP Hyperautomation Strategy
A successful SAP hyperautomation strategy begins with a clear focus on the interdependence of process and data. It requires the right automation platform, designed specifically with SAP processes in mind. Identify the right processes and defining clear measures for success. For best results, build a cross-functional team that can bring multiple perspectives to the table.
Josh Whitener, Systems Architect for the Modern Processes team at Exxon Mobil described his organization’s experience with SAP hyperautomation: “We started our automation journey in 2018, and today we have over 130 workflow solutions that span 30 organizations. We have almost 100 citizen developers that we partner with and educate and train to help them develop solutions for their respective areas.”
Whitener describes some of the benefits his organization has experienced as a result of using Automate: “We have dramatically reduced our recycle rate, which is what happens when someone enters information but missed adding some important information. Those transactions end up going back and forth, which creates delays. Using Precisely Automate, we have reduced that recycle rate for some of our master data from over 30% to less than 1.5%. That translates into significant time savings.”
Hyperautomation is an important element of digital transformation in today’s global economy. To learn more about automating your SAP processes, watch our free on-demand sessions from Trust ’23.