Three Things You Need to Know About Automating SAP with Robotics (RPA)

By Henrik Nyberg on Dec 20, 2017

Some organizations have already started implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions to automate SAP processes and many others are considering it. Robotics and RPA have been around for years but the technology is creating a buzz in the tech space today. Automation will continue to be implemented where it makes sense to free up resources to innovate so your organization can compete in the digitalized economy. But before you start automating SAP processes, you should consider what kind of robot you want.

How many robots do you need?

Imagine that you run a factory that relies on manual labor and you want to implement automation. You identify a number of tasks that can and should be automated like pressing steel plates to parts, painting the finished product, moving pallets around in the warehouse, and cleaning the floors in the office. Would you go out and buy one robot that can do all of these tasks or would you look for specialized robots that can do each task as effectively as possible?

In a production setting, you often need different types of robots to do different kinds of tasks and there is no value in having robots that resemble humans. However, in an IT setting, it’s common to want ONE type of robot that does all tasks in all systems and goes out to buy a screen scraping RPA product to automate everything.

The benefits of using RPA for SAP

There are no inherent benefits in having a computer mimic human work in the SAP GUI. And there are many ways to get data into SAP but an RPA solution that executes GUI scripted transactions is a rather inefficient method. It’s more efficient than having humans do the work but it’s slower and generates more errors than a solution that makes RFC calls. If you use GUI scripting you need to have the robot wait for the screen to update and if your wait time is too short you’ll get an exception.

There are benefits to using solutions that can manage multiple applications, but if you look at how many times you really need cross-application process automation you will probably be surprised. Even if you have a robot extract information from an e-mail and create transactions in SAP you will find that you may not want to do that. There are cases where you do, but even then you would benefit from using a solution that doesn’t rely on GUI scripting – at least if you care about efficiency.

When SAP focused tasks are automated, there are cheaper, faster, more stable and more compliant solutions around. It’s possible to automate processes where one or multiple transactions are executed in a sequence without generic screen scraping RPA solutions. The benefit to using automated solutions like Winshuttle is that they’re implemented with about 20% of the effort. They run faster and with fewer exceptions. It’s easier to change the process and the business can do it without consultants. Updates are made in the name of the actual user instead of in the name of a robot.

The answer? Automation

Automation will help you free up resources to innovate. Buy generic screen scraping RPA solutions if that is what you need, but weigh your options before you go down that path. Consider what is happening in production facilities – it’s not a coincidence that there are different kinds of robots that clean office floors and paint cars. There are very few humanoid robots running around doing various things simply because it would be inefficient and expensive.

About the author

Henrik Nyberg

The Winshuttle blog is written by professional thought leaders who are dedicated to providing content on a variety of topics, including industry news, best practices, software updates, continued education, tips and techniques, and much more.

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