There is something about “MARY”

Jun 27, 2018 / By Siddharth Singh

I was watching the iconic movie of my teens after years on the flight back to London. Every time I watch Mary, she gets me thinking and this is what it got me thinking this time.

The disruptive interplay of Digital Transformation with innovative technologies is presenting a new set of challenges to most of my clients and well prospective clients. Each one is thinking, doing what they can to choose which technologies to adopt and how much to invest in each.

  1. Automation applied to business processes – Robotic Process Automation.
  2. Machine learning & Artificial Intelligence

Google can throw terabytes of data points to read about them, so no point writing one more article. However, as an organisation when we are building some key competencies to help our clients interplay these cool technologies with traditional enterprise software tools, ERP (especially SAP) M.A.R.Y (ML / AI / RPA & Your ERP) comes as an easy reckoner. Mary came to delight us when ERP’s were the hottest thing in the tech corridors. And M.A.R.Y got to get cooler.

Adoption of RPA in processes driven by ERP systems has remained largely muted, especially considering most large organizations are run on ERP today. Increasing number of RPA Platform partners and service providers are designing solutions tailor-made for ERP software with special focus on SAP, the scope of applicability has broadened, and the cost of ownership has reduced.

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An organisation considering the use of RPA for ERP driven processes will be well advised to use it in conjunction with a BPM tool with a flexibility of extending it with machine learning.

This is how the proverbial cookie crumbles:-

  1. ERP system = the backbone of the IT landscape by acting as a sole source of information for the enterprise.
  2. RPA (Robotic Process Automatic) = a human interface and interacts directly with the ERP system just as a human would (by entering transactions, executing programs and extracting reports among other things).
  3. BPM tool = capture the detailed business processes, including processes designed for ERP, and define the interfaces between ERP system, its satellite systems and other standalone applications.
    • BPM is especially useful for RPA deployment because automation should be decided keeping in mind business process and not user.
    • A correctly mapped BPM model, therefore, makes it easier to select processes for automation using RPA. In many ways, RPA is an extended arm of BPMS.
  4. Machine Learning = inherent part of RPA since RPA is ‘trained’ to act like human interface based on historical data.
    • It is imperative that RPA should come built in with flexibility to update its machine learning capabilities.
    • ML acts like a feeder system for RPA which enhances the functionality of RPA and will improve its performance the more it is used.
    • One of the reasons for the lack of interest in RPA among ERP customers is that most of the processes that run on ERP could only be semi-automated until recently.
    • This is changing drastically with progress made in machine learning and will be a decisive factor for the success of RPA being used with ERP.

Early checklist before we embark on introducing RPA within an ERP eco system -

  1. Clearly define the goals of automation.
    • Periodic closing may be of primary importance for one company (time factor) but for another, the focus would be reduction in the number of FTEs (full time employees).
  2. Evaluate the promised benefits vis-a-vis robotic process benchmarks.
  3. Level of automation possible
    • This will largely depend upon the kind of processes typical with your industry. In a manufacturing unit, a lot of time is consumed in entering production and maintenance data into ERP system although the data may be readily available in another system.
  4. Security
    • Your ERP holds the most business critical data of your enterprise. It goes without saying that a water-tight assessment of the security features must be done before anything else. Audit logs, Industry standard Transport Layer Security (TSL) 1.2 protocol, and latest encryption technology etc.

If you would like to bring the M.A.R.Y home, talk to us – we know how to charm her for you.

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