SAP Process Automation offers low-code RPA workflow tool

SAP Process Automation offers low-code RPA workflow tool

SAP is merging two existing tools into a single product aimed at automating business processes, one of the key principles for digital transformation.

SAP Process Automation combines SAP Workflow Management, launched in 2009 to digitize workflows, and SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (RPA), released in 2018 to automate workflows, in one package. The combo tool uses a code-free, no-code drag-and-drop user interface that allows business professionals and city developers to create and automate process workflows.

The product, which is now available, is an extension of SAP’s investment in process automation technology, according to Sebastian Schrötel, SAP’s head of low-code and no-code products.

“We are now taking the next step in creating a unified process automation offering,” said Schrötel. “We are merging this world of workflow with the RPA world and transforming it into an end-to-end product.”

The combination was largely driven by customers who asked SAP to help them integrate automation into workflow tasks, he said.

“It’s not just about combining the two products,” said Schrötel. “We’re adding something new that allows this whole world of process automation to be used by city developers with a no-code experience that’s augmented with AI for some of the businesses.”

Sebastian Schrötel

For example, a pharmaceutical company experienced an increase in sales after the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the orders arrived via email with attachments. The company used SAP Intelligent RPA to automate the inbound sales order process to digitize the orders and enter them into the system. When implementing SAP Process Automation, the company was therefore able to route orders under various process conditions.

“Business rules frameworks are built into SAP Process Automation, which allows customers to add business rules and have a complete decision framework,” said Schrötel. “If the order is dead, do it; if it exceeds a certain threshold, set different approvals and so on.”

Process automation combined with process extraction

According to Schrötel, the existing SAP Workflow Management and SAP Intelligent RPA will enter a “transition phase” as they become SAP Process Management. But, she added, the adjustment should be easy for customers because the content they have integrated into both products can be easily moved into SAP Process Automation.

SAP Process Automation can also be integrated with SAP Process Insights, a process mining and analytics product developed by SAP Signavio that helps customers understand how their processes work and can recommend actions to improve them. While Process Insights provides analytics, SAP Process Automation is the execution engine and includes more than 340 predefined process flows, modules, and RPAs that can solve common business workflow problems, according to Schrötel.

“SAP Process Insights can suggest this content so that customers can analyze the performance of a process and then get advice on automations in the SAP content store that could solve problems,” he said. “Then, after implementing it, you can measure again with Process Insights to see how it did. This then becomes part of a continuous process improvement cycle.”

Process automation is an important ERP trend

SAP is working on something with SAP Process Automation, as RPA is currently a major trend for ERP, said Predrag Jakovljevic, principal industry analyst at the Technology Evaluation Centers.

Predrag Jakovljevic, Lead Industry Analyst, Technology Evaluation CentersPredrag Jakovljevic

The trend is also exemplified by business rivals Microsoft, which has the low-code RPA platform Microsoft Power Automate, and Salesforce, which added RPA with its acquisition of Servicetrace via its subsidiary MuleSoft in 2021.

Smaller ERP vendors like Acumatica and Plex have also introduced process automation features, but by partnering with automation software vendors like UiPath and Blue Prism, they may require additional licensing, integration and upgrade issues, he said.

“Only the older kids have the privilege and advantage of their native RPA,” said Jakovljevic.

Process automation is a key factor for companies to reduce operating costs and improve cycle times, said Maureen Fleming, program vice president at IDC.

Businesses are also interested in equipping business users with the skills to use process automation tools, so they are aided by products like SAP Process Automation that combine low-code functionality and workflow automation with process mining. intelligent document and AI-assisted decision making, she said.

“A key trend in automation is the consolidation of different types of automation and artificial intelligence technologies on a single platform,” said Fleming. “SAP is trending with this combination, and given the significant improvement underway in processes supported by SAP applications, this offering fits into a ready market.”

The release of SAP Process Automation shows that SAP is serious about providing workflow automation and ERP modernization, agrees Jon Reed, co-founder of Diginomica, a business sector analysis firm.

“If you can get these workflows right, you’re not just automating very simple things, you’re starting to automate steps from more elaborate processes,” he said.

If you are on S / 4HANA, you will probably lean towards SAP for automation because they know the processes and the code environment better than anyone.

Jon ReedCo-founder, Diginomica

The tool should be well received by customers because only the most sophisticated companies can develop low-code and process automation tools in-house without the help of a vendor, he said. While there are other low-code process automation vendors, such as Automation Anywhere, many of them do not fully understand SAP environments.

“A third-party vendor can help provide some of the tools and building blocks as an alternative. Any customer, when looking at such things, should consider a range of tools and options,” Reed said. “But in general, if you use S / 4HANA, you will probably lean towards SAP for automation because they know the processes and the code environment better than anyone.”

However, SAP needs to be clearer on which SAP ERP products SAP Process Automation works and what the migration path looks like for existing users of SAP Workflow Management and SAP Intelligent RPA, Reed said. It is not obvious that SAP Process Automation will work with SAP ECC or other ERP versions and there are tools from SAP partners that might work well for those versions.

“Migration scenarios for products like this probably aren’t too cumbersome, but customers will still need to have questions answered,” Reed said. “If you are a customer of one of these products, you will probably appreciate this direction because you can see that SAP is investing heavily in these tools and this is good news for them.”

Jim O’Donnell is a TechTarget news writer covering ERP and other business applications for SearchSAP and SearchERP.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.