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Hyperautomation master guide for 2022

Optimise and automate business processes for a wide range of strategic benefits


By Nicholas Nicoloudis, Senior Director – Innovation Technology & Strategy (APJ) at SAP


In the past year, we’ve had the pleasure of engaging with numerous colleagues and customers across the Asia region to assist, automate and streamline business processes. In this column, we’ll cover points to optimise and automate your or your customers' business process.

The Legal/NDA discussion

To access customer data and business process, make sure you have the right legal authority or documents in place before starting a hyperautomation project. Your customer could be a government agency or have explicit privacy regulations (GDPR etc) and therefore unable to share documents, system landscape information. This can be critical and could stop the project or pilot without the right legal documentation in place. This has slowed down one of our customer engagements, however our legal documentation is in order, and we look forward to sharing another success story in 2022.

Accepting the cloud or a hybrid approach

Most of the SAP Hyperautomation services exist on our Business Technology Platform (BTP). Our BTP is hyperscaler agnostic in the cloud and we provide BTP Connectivity to securely connect and maintain privacy. We have seen customers migrate their whole environments to the hyperscalers and depending on the hyperscaler, we have direct connections to improve latency.

Common hyperautomation scenarios

Throughout the past year we’ve been involved in many scenarios including updating master-data (Bangkok glass case study), extra business information in HR applications to reading (a case study from TCS that won an innovation award) and processing invoices (Zuellig Pharma Invoice Processing). The case study I will focus on is Zuellig since when we analyse the different business processes, the finance area is where we see the most productivity gains (below).

In the figure above (Automating the PO process with Hyperautomation) a key metric that is identified is the improvement in time, from 3 minutes to 25 seconds. This process involves the use of a few key Business Technology Services, Intelligent RPA and Document Information Extraction (DOX). Intelligent RPA is used to download the invoices, while DOX can process the document, extract the information and convert it to master data. This is one of the key reasons Zuellig chose SAP since the raw invoice data is quickly mapped to SAP master data, reducing the amount of manual processing and as stated in Figure 1, with zero input errors.

DOX has the ability to process invoices, payment advice, purchase orders and more recently, custom document types. If you’d like to learn more, this blog post by Simardeep Singh explains how you can train DOX to process your custom document type. If you are based in the Asian region, there are numerous languages that require support. If DOX does not currently support the Asian language you require, SAP is supporting a start-up called staple.io. Staple.io supports many Asian languages and already has pre-built integration with SAP solutions.

Our first OEM-based RPA go-live at Adrians Australia was a unique use case because it was highly bespoke in nature, with 49+ financial document types being processed by the Digital Worker. This included P&L report, balance sheet, general ledger report, wages report, trade creditor and debtor report, insurance documents, bank statements, tax checklist, portfolio report, income and expense summary, divident statement, superannuation statements, stock report, investment reports, etc, generated from their 200+ customer groups and 1,000+ sub-customer group entities. The beauty of the solution is that it's highly scalable and can be tweaked to accommodate several more document variations and deliver the anticipated outcomes.

For RISE, automation is already included

Most customers are now planning for or transforming to SAP’s latest ERP, S/4 HANA to maximise the data and process improvements. However, when speaking to customers, most have not implemented or configured the out-of-the-box capabilities. Here are some of the features:

  • Intelligent GR/IR Account Reconciliation: A machine learning service to make the process of goods and invoice receipt account reconciliation intelligent.
  • Intelligent Accruals: A machine learning service to make the process of accruals management intelligent. The Review Purchase Order Accruals - For Cost Accountant app supports the machine learning service.
  • Intercompany Reconciliation Automation with Machine Learning: A machine learning service to make the process of accruals management intelligent. The Review Purchase Order Accruals - For Cost Accountant app supports the machine learning service.

SAP will continue to develop AI-based services to improve operational efficiency. The most recent release of SAP Process Automation (an introduction from Sebastian Schroetel, for TechEd) allows you to capitalise on predefined bots in the bot store (currently over 300), preconfigured workflows for business processes such as procure to pay, lead to cash and many more. A recent development for S/4HANA is the Shared Service Framework (below). This is a preconfigured collection of services to simplify customer and employee engagement.

SAP: your trusted hyperautomation partner

Including all the bots and workflows stated in the previous paragraph, we have a team of experts to support you on your journey. In a recent customer engagement, we walked through an Order-to-Cash process. During this investigation, we identified that we could optimise the process prior to automation since data was being kept in Excel files which could easily be extracted from SAP using an API call. This could have been identified with a process mining tool such as Signavio which we would recommend with customers if they were not sure where their process bottlenecks exist.

While at another customer engagement, the customer had a third party RPA tool that they had acquired to assist automate business process. There was a simple but challenging business problem they faced, sales territory managers kept changing, which meant that managing the master data was significant. This change started from S/4 and updates were required in C4C, Ariba and any existing workflow. This was a long, tedious and manual process.

We introduced the AI Factory, a team that assists in delivering standard scenarios across SAP business process. This team identified that the BP update function in their version of S/4 did not including the personnel number required to updated Territory Manager number. The team developed an enhancement on the previous function to pass on the personnel number. This solution was future-proof since if the customer upgraded to the latest version of S/4, the bot would continue to process as normal since the team adheres to product management standards. This could only be delivered with SAP as we have access to product management and supported enhancements to the core which are future-proof.

If you’re interested in learning more, please feel to email me at nicholas.nicoloudis@sap.com and I can help guide you through your hyperautomation journey.

This article would not be possible without the support of an amazing team, including Anil Bhaskaran, Sussan Lam, Audrey Sleaford, Ching Ooi, Paresh Misra, Rajesh Ragupathy, Syamesh P Naveen, Avinash S Jawa, Karun Chawla, Bhagabat P Behera, Vivek Lakwal, Hemant Rachh, Raghav Uppal, Boris Andre, Sebastian Shroetel, Tomasz Jansz, Nadine Hoffmann, KP Lai, Supratik Choudhury, Murali Shanmugham, Peter Moore and SAP APJ President Paul Marriott.

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