Do’s and Don'ts of SAP Automation
With SAP being one of the most popular enterprise software solutions in the world, used by almost half a million people, it is unsurprising that SAP automation has been a hot topic lately. Given the broad range of business processes that can be performed in SAP, and the complexity of the application, it looks like a very promising area for automation.
However, the success of your automation project depends on several important rules, or best practices, that you should follow, and the pitfalls you should avoid when implementing SAP automation. Here are some Do’s and Don'ts you should remember when starting to automate your next SAP process with RPA.
Preparing SAP business processes for automation
After identifying the business process that you want to automate, it is important to prepare this process for automation.
DO modify the business process to make it a better fit for automation. As we previously mentioned in our post about the differences between people and robots, there are certain similarities and differences between the logic of RPA robots and people, which means different tasks can be automated differently: some by mimicking the exact human actions; others by using special actions, like pre-built actions for Excel, with which the bots can perform the same tasks differently and more efficiently. So, before implementing end-to-end SAP process automation, break the process into separate tasks, analyze each of them, choose the appropriate approach for each task, and change the workflow to make it easier to automate.
DON’T automate the whole process by mimicking a person’s actions in the app. Don’t start automating the process without breaking the workflow into smaller pieces and analyzing those separate parts in detail. It might seem like the most straightforward way to create a script, but it can make it less effective in the end.
Automating SAP web client
DO use special web actions for automating SAP web client. There is a special group of actions available in WorkFusion, and, unless it is impossible in your case, try to use these actions to automate the web part of the SAP application. First, it allows making the script more succinct and easier to maintain. Second, it makes it more stable and less prone to breaking if the interface of the app changes.
DO use fluent waits and exception handling in your script. When working with browsers, don’t forget to provide special actions for the bot in case the Internet is down or slow. In case the Internet is slow, and it can take longer than usual for the pages to load, and using fluent waits ensures that the script works correctly in different circumstances, while also allowing to avoid idle time for bots when the connection is good. Using exception handling on top of that provides an alternative course of action for the bot, in case the Internet is down.
SAP GUI automation
DO use UI selectors to automate SAP desktop client. The most stable and efficient way of automating the desktop part of the application is GUI automation. WorkFusion is officially certified by SAP as integrated with SAP S/4HANA® and provides native SAP GUI automation. Using this approach makes the automation scripts more stable, as UI controls rarely change and are often independent of how the interface looks. It also allows making the scripts more universal, so they will work on different machines. Use Inspector to identify and test the selectors you use in the script.
DO use Blue Crystal or Classical UI themes. Work with the IT team of the company on SAP deployment to ensure that either of these two themes is used in the application that will be automated. Sticking to these themes will make sure that all the most important elements are supported in the Inspector and can be used in object-based actions.
DON’T rely on image-based automation in SAP. If possible, try to avoid using images in your RPA scripts. First, that limits the number of machines on which these scripts can be run, as they will depend on the machine’s resolution and other settings. Second, the scripts might break if the interface of the application changes even a little bit.
Apart from the above best practices, there are several general rules for successful SAP automation, such as:
- Make sure that scripting is enabled according to our SAP automation implementation guide. By default, SAP blocks RPA scripts from accessing its interface, and this setting needs to be changed for successful automation.
- Follow the best practices for data security protection, like using separate credentials for bots and keeping all passwords in the Secrets Vault.
(We will not list all of these here, as we have already covered them in the Security Best Practices article.)
If you’d like to learn more, we provide a special module on SAP automation in the learning path for Automation Engineers, available for WorkFusion partners and customers.
But even if you don’t have access to these advanced courses, you can find information on automating SAP business processes in our free Knowledge Base, in the WorkFusion Community Forum, or by taking the free course, “Automating the Business Task” in Automation Academy.