SAP S/4HANA System Conversion: Reduce Business Downtime with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

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SAP S/4HANA System Conversion: Reduce Business Downtime with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Sergio Ferrari | May 13, 2019

In our real-life experiences of brownfield System Conversions to SAP S/4HANA, the technical conversion run takes about a weekend. In some circumstances we opted for the “resource-minimized” strategy and in others, for the “downtime-minimized” strategy.

To date, we’ve yet to take advantage of the “near-Zero Downtime” strategy ( refer to OSS note 693168 - Minimized Downtime Service ).

During the Business Downtime, end-users cannot count onto their ERP platform, background processes are suspended as well as integration flows. Sales, Warehouse and Production operations suffer even more than Financial and Procurement. Limiting the Business Downtime within a weekend becomes thus one of the main goals of the conversion project.

In this session, I have taken the opportunity to interview Luca Grilli regarding Business Downtime and how we can leverage Robotic Process Automation to reduce it.

Hi Luca, would you like to introduce yourself?

Hi Sergio, it’s great to be a part of the SAP S/4HANA Conversion expert series. You know, I am a passionate SAP Consultant for around 20 years now. I like to be a pioneer trying out the new possibilities around the SAP Business Suite as soon as possible. I have been an early adopter of BSP, Adobe Interactive Forms, Web Dynpro for ABAP even with Adobe Flash Islands, Mobile App and many more SAP technology creating mission critical custom Business Applications for so many Large Enterprise all around the world.

But, I would say that nothing is so impressive asRobotic Process Automation (RPA). I am now also an RPA certified Engineer and I am involved in RPA projects since last year.

Can you tell me more about how the team is leveraging RPA to reduce Business Downtime?

Yes sure. I am involved in many conversion projects and discussing with our Financial Senior consultants, we found out that the “FI Data Reconciliation” phase of the cutover took hours... Which gave me the idea to analyze the topic from the RPA Engineer point of view.

Well, the result is impressive. We saved more then 6 hours of Business Downtime. We trained a Robot that can now submit the required “FI Reports” just before the conversion. The Robot takes note of the saved spool files. As soon as the “FI Data Migration” step completes in SAP S/4HANA, the Robot runs once again the “FI Reports” and performs a precise “line-by-line” comparison between the OLD with the NEW outputs. As we know, as the result of the new data model, differences are possible specifically due to the slight new rounding logic of currency conversion. In the end, the Robot produces an elegant PDF file that highlights only differences, if any. At that point, FI specialists and Process Owners can quickly take the required corrective actions. Please note that each of the reports must be executed for a company code, taking into account the historical years... so you can easily expect to run around 100 background jobs. The spool files contain normally hundreds of pages and the Robot can process them in seconds.

Have you developed other Robots to support additional conversion projects phases?

That’s really getting into our “secret sauce”. I will give you just one more example - that is about massive activation of BAdi, which for some reason may be left inactive after the technical conversion.

Speaking about the Conversion Factory, do you think RPA will eventually substitute consultants ?

I like to think that our Conversion Factory, our S4H LaunchPad Team, is composed by a Global Virtual Team of Cyber-Conversion Specialists that can leverage on templates, utilities, accelerators but also on ready-to-use trained Robots - or even train new Robots - to solve repetitive and risky tasks that come out for the first time in each project. This kind of competence will always be a value, the RPA is a byproduct of acquired knowledge. Yet, indeed, this is one of the reasons behind the success of our  ability to earn SAP Qualified Partner status for our SAP S/4HANA Conversion packaged solution.

Last question, what is the name of Robot that performs the “FI Data Reconciliation” ?

She is a lady and her name is Lisa, Lisa bot.

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