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RPA: Promise vs. Reality

Why an SAP-Specific Robotic Process Automation Solution Is a Must-Have in Your Portfolio

by Andrew Hayden, Winshuttle Product Marketing Manager

February 21, 2019

RPA: Promise vs. Reality

While automating manual processes with robotic process automation (RPA) is great in theory, the reality is that RPA has been a mix of success and disappointment in many organizations. Those succeeding with RPA tend to take a holistic approach, while those experiencing disappointment tend to use generic tools. Learn about the different ways to approach RPA and how to choose the right tool to automate processes in your own SAP landscape.

Robotic process automation (RPA) has been hyped as a panacea for improving manual processes. In theory, the idea of automating repetitive, structured processes sounds great. In reality, many organizations’ experience with RPA has not been positive. According to recent industry research, organizations that underestimate the complexity of RPA, the potential misuse, and the amount of coordination needed among various business and IT functions are experiencing significant issues and/or high failure rates in deploying and scaling RPA in their business.

Results Are Mixed

Reviewing the RPA landscape, it’s not all doom and gloom. The reality is that RPA has been mix of success and disappointment.

Companies seeing the greatest success with RPA have dedicated, centralized teams taking a holistic approach to process automation. They examine both the processes to be automated and the expected business outcomes to develop their automation roadmaps. They then choose the best toolset for automating particular processes. The most successful companies understand there are no one-size-fits-all RPA solutions — a portfolio approach is better. As one of our customers recently said, “We have Blue Prism and Winshuttle, and we choose the best tool on a case-by-case business.”

The instances of disappointment seem to arise when companies use “generic” RPA tools and experience associated difficulties. Despite being “no code” solutions, most “bots” require a high degree of programming and can be unreliable when applied to complex SAP processes. Most of these challenges surround GUI recording and screen scraping, where even minor changes to the operating environment can cause the bot to fail. With IT teams stretched to their limits, unexpected issues can require significant IT involvement to resolve.

Use the Right Tool for Automating SAP Processes

SAP-specific automation solutions, on the other hand, are built for SAP processes. These solutions allow non-technical staff members to record through the SAP GUI, while the actual execution of the bot is at the application layer. This offers significant benefits in terms of reliability and speed, with up to a 400% performance gain compared to executing through the SAP GUI.

SAP-specific RPA solutions also enable business users to quickly intervene if data errors are detected, using familiar tools such as Microsoft Excel for data management. The result of being business focused is often faster implementation, lower deployment costs, and a higher ROI than experienced with generic RPA tools.

RPA Is Nothing New

RPA may be a relatively new term, but companies like Winshuttle have been automating SAP processes for over 15 years. Data gathered from thousands of Winshuttle customers has shown the average processing time saved by simply eliminating manual data entry via the SAP GUI is as high as 91% and 89% (for SAP transaction code FB01 and XD02, respectively).

For effective RPA implementation, learn from the successes, disappointments, and failures experienced by the marketplace. Choose the right tool for the process you’re automating, understand the strengths and limitations of the tools in your portfolio, and choose an SAP-specific RPA tool when automating SAP processes. Winshuttle offers SAP-specific automation solutions as part of a comprehensive SAP data management platform.

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Andrew Hayden
Andrew Hayden

Winshuttle Product Marketing Manager

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3/27/2019 11:19:24 AM

Good text Andrew. You focused on RPA and the performance challenges of tools not adequately integrated. In my experience, total-costs-of-ownership (TCO) are also impacted with additional testing and "adjustments" when changes are made to the landscape. What you wrote about RPA is also relevant for AI, IoT and Blockchain when an enterprise architecture perspective is not applied correctly.