Robotic Process Automation with SAP: Use Cases and Benefits
As much as 93% of businesses are determined to automate and streamline manual processes critical to their organizations. So, it’s no surprise that companies like SAP—the leading enterprise application software provider—sit at the heart of it.
SAP creates a centralized system that gives business departments access to shared common data so employees can work better together and organizations operate profitably.
Despite the almost endless possibilities of using SAP applications, any time-consuming and repetitive process within the system can set your business back.
With robotic process automation (RPA), you can program software robots to perform rote tasks within and between the SAP ecosystem of products and other applications.
This guide covers different use cases and benefits of implementing RPA with SAP in your business.
On-Premise to Cloud: The Evolution of SAP
SAP workloads are business-critical. Any strategic changes—whether technology or deployment—can significantly impact its customers.
One such directive is the mandate to migrate to SAP HANA, then SAP S/4HANA, and move to the cloud.
While businesses would like to leverage the innovative capabilities SAP offers, it’s not always possible to keep up. For instance, cloud migration is prevalent among client data centers but not for general-purpose and SAP workloads.
Some business challenges SAP customers face migrating to the cloud include:
- Availability of tools and industry experts
- No confidence in the maturity of S/4HANA
- Hybrid platform complexities
- Migration’s low precedence among other IT priorities
- Inability to provide a justifiable business case
With RPA, SAP customers can move to SAP S/4HANA cloud without the hassle of managing infrastructure. For example, UiPath—which has many SAP connectors—automates SAP S/4HANA migration so you can achieve lower operational costs, rapid time to value, high scalability, and real digital transformation.
RPA reduces the overall timeline and critical path of the migration while reducing the risk of the entire migration project.
SAP Automation helps you:
- Detect essential business processes in SAP
- Know what to focus on and how business users apply the SAP process
- Reduce S/4HANA system test time, cost, and manual effort
Next, let’s look at what RPA and SAP can achieve together.
What Can You Automate in SAP?
SAP is a very promising area for automation because of its complexity and the broad range of business processes that can be performed in the application.
Some suitable candidates for automation include data extraction and entry, invoicing, generating reports, creating outgoing payments, and more.
But that’s not all.
There are various use cases for RPA in the SAP platform spanning industries, such as finance, healthcare, manufacturing, life sciences, telecommunications, and retail.
Here’s a more detailed look at the specific areas you can implement RPA and realize immediate time and cost savings, reduced risk, maximum efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
General RPA Use Cases in SAP
RPA isn’t appropriate for all business processes. It automates rule-based, high-volume, repetitive tasks that rely on structured digital data and are prone to error when using human labor.
Such tasks are also highly seasonal (demand spikes), time-sensitive, have clear business rules, and have little to no exception rates.
Some general use cases in SAP include:
- Data entry: Software robots reduce errors and effort in the data entry process by automating copying and pasting data. A large automotive supplier, for example, can automate SAP with RPA to automate the upload of general ledger entries, invoices, purchase orders, work order creation, or customer orders, reducing the time employees spend on this task and increasing data accuracy.
- Data extraction and categorization for reports: Creating and updating records can be time-consuming and prone to errors. RPA bots can extract data from a PDF file, spreadsheet, or email message and post it to the ERP system through an API. This frees employees to focus on more high-value activities that require human intelligence.
- Report generation: This process requires you to log into SAP, fill in the required data, create the report, and send it to the relevant parties via email or other channels. RPA bots can execute the rule-based, repetitive tasks and quickly generate reports for decision making.
Additional automation options in SAP that RPA can automate include:
- Creating and updating records.
- Cutting and pasting.
- Filling forms.
- Other activities that require moving data within and between business applications.
Department-Specific Use Cases
RPA bots also mimic tasks done by human workers in various business departments, completing them in much the way employees do.
Bots work in a virtual environment to carry out repetitive activities in departments, including:
- Finance: Processes in finance, such as payroll, accounts receivables, accounts payables, cash forecasting, reconciliations, and others, are time-consuming and tedious actions. RPA streamlines finance operations, reducing potential disputes in payments and open account items, saving on costs, and freeing up workers to handle more complex tasks.
- Manufacturing: RPA bots execute repetitive tasks in manufacturing business processes such as material resource planning (MRP), back flush, creation of work orders, employee scheduling, and demand and supply planning. Automation speeds up these processes, increasing efficiency and ensuring manufacturers have accurate data for effective planning.
- Supply chain: Automating SAP tasks in the supply chain like creating purchase and sales orders, responding to customer queries, advance shipment notices (ASN) and other shipment documentation, or logistics management decrease the manual effort and time wasted in such rote tasks while enhancing their accuracy.
- Human resources (HR): The intelligent combination of RPA and SAP automation helps businesses create superior employee experiences in your organization. Automation streamlines tasks such as new-hire onboarding, recruitment or talent sourcing, performance management, compensation, and benefits, which involve different systems tools to fulfill legal and compliance requirements.
- Procurement: Automation revolutionizes procurement processes such as requisition or purchase order management, vendor performance, and records management, which reduces order lead times, minimizes employee workload, and makes customers happier.
- Sales: Sales executives constantly bring in prospects, leads, and customer information, which can be time-consuming to enter and update. RPA automates processes like order entry, CRM updates, scorecards, and payment data, making it easier to nurture and maintain customer relationships.
Industry-Specific Use Cases
There are many automation scenarios in different industries where RPA with SAP can digitally transform your business. The most common ones are:
- Manufacturing: Manufacturers can benefit from an SAP automation platform to track inventory movement, initiate stock transfers, manage warehouses, and more.
- Life Sciences: Automation ensures you organize business operations around strategic objectives, use data to respond to customer demands quickly, and deliver quality, timely, patient-centered outcomes.
- Healthcare: Implementing RPA with SAP in the dynamic healthcare landscape helps medical personnel manage patient and provider data, forms, and process treatments swiftly and accurately.
- Retail and E-Commerce: Retailers and online store owners can automate tasks like data extraction to access information for customer scorecards, price matching, or handling product queries. This ensures they provide customers with unified omnichannel experiences.
- Banking and Financial Services: SAP automation combines financial processes with real-time analytics, translating them into valuable business insights across the company. Financial institutions can better serve their customers while keeping employees engaged and inspired.
- Telecom and IT: RPA with SAP helps telecommunication companies and IT teams provide high speeds, better digital services when answering calls or responding to queries, and retrieving customer files about previous purchases, refunds, problems, and resolutions.
The Benefits of Adding RPA to Your SAP Instance
Adding RPA to SAP opens up multiple avenues of automation so you can realize immediate time and cost savings benefits, reduced risk, and lesser employee workload.
Specific benefits include:
- Business process efficiency: SAP automation optimizes your business processes, making them less manual for employees and increasing efficiency across the organization.
- Data retrieval and access: RPA bots rapidly retrieve important information across SAP applications, giving you fast access to data for reporting, analytics, and decision-making.
- Scalability: You can scale tasks quicker and in large volumes as software bots execute work faster than human workers.
- Compliance: SAP process automation ensures that you meet regulatory compliance and data governance requirements and avoid paying penalties.
- Improved productivity: RPA bots automate basic tasks in the SAP ecosystem, freeing up employees to concentrate on more strategic work.
- Accuracy and Quality: Automating your SAP instance with RPA reduces the effort needed to execute tasks and resulting human errors and delivers higher quality output or outcomes.
- Customer satisfaction: Better productivity and efficiency increase customer satisfaction, happiness, and a better overall customer experience.
What to Look for In an RPA Implementor/Partner for SAP
Automation streamlines your processes and offers greater control over your business. However, you still need to make wise choices to leverage the benefits of RPA for your SAP instance.
You need to pick the right RPA partner who can manage the entire process from planning to execution to after-sales support in line with your business goals, model, and requirements.
Many IT firms claim to be SAP partners, making settling on the right implementer for your business more challenging.
Fortunately, some key factors can help you choose the most suitable RPA partner for your business, such as:
- Experience: Check the partner’s years of collective experience and whether they’ve worked on multiple SAP automation projects using different automation techniques across different industries.
- Reviews: User feedback and client testimonials matter when selecting the right RPA implementation partner. Meet some previous clients of the RPA partner you intend to onboard to get information about the partner’s approach and resources. Consider the customers’ inputs before deciding.
- Domain expertise: Besides collective experience, the RPA partner you choose and their developer team should have the technical knowledge or domain expertise in SAP automation and enough resources to handle projects of any size.
- Technical support and maintenance: The RPA partner you pick should offer after-sales services like support and maintenance after integrating the software into your business system. Find out what additional professional services they provide and how they fit your business process automation goals and requirements.
- Advanced automation features: Find out what advanced automation features, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and others can add intelligent robotic process automation capabilities to your business processes and improve efficiency.
SAP’s Intelligent RPA Service Versus Working with Other Leading RPA Services like UiPath
With 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touching an SAP system, it’s clear that the company is a relevant global player—even in RPA.
SAP’s intelligent RPA (iRPA) technology plans began in 2018. The company acquired Contextor to augment its efforts to provide better integration into its application stack and more straightforward implementation of SAP best practices.
iRPA complements other RPA platforms and enables business-to-technology experts and developers to build bots that augment human activities, enhance efficiency, cut costs, and reduce human errors. You can use it to introduce new technology to your business with no footprint in legacy systems, increase compliance and analysis capabilities, and enhance customer satisfaction.
While SAP’s iRPA has some promising benefits, it has some challenges, including:
- It only runs in the cloud
- The cost to run automations can rack up quickly
- It offers fewer prepackaged activities compared to other RPA software providers
These challenges can be deal-breakers for companies seeking an all-in-one automation solution that handles all use cases, works on-premise or in the cloud, and has multiple prepackaged activities.
UiPath—a leading RPA service provider—checks all the automation boxes and works with SAP to establish effective automation workflows that empower your product, customer, and employees.
You can use UiPath’s automation tool across the SAP landscape and the rest of your tech stack, too, thanks to its 300+ native integrations.
And you don’t have to struggle to find qualified RPA experts or developer teams to set up UiPath with your SAP instance. Leaniar—a UiPath Gold Partner and leader in implementing RPA and SAP—can help you kickstart your automation journey.
RPA allows you to automate SAP solutions, which operate in a dynamic and complex environment so you can increase productivity and scale your business.
Ready to systematize rote tasks, increase operational speed and efficiency, and improve your bottom line?
Get in touch to find out how you can set up SAP automation for your business.