I’ve heard dozens of Fortune 500 executives over the last 12 months extol the virtues of process automation, only to then admit that their organizations have not actually started down the automation path. The benefits are obvious: massive productivity gains in mega processes like Order to Cash and Procure to Pay can lead to tens of millions of dollars in savings in annual operating expenses. So why the hesitation?

The most commonly cited reason has been that their organizations have pending migrations of SAP ECC to S4/HANA. These executives fear that beginning an automation initiative now is pointless because their work will be wiped out during the upgrades.

When it comes to traditional RPA, they’re not wrong. Automation through screen-scraping is dangerous and has an 85% failure rate during upgrades. However, there are better ways to automate processes in SAP that steer clear of brittle RPA tools. The new wave of Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) platforms connect human users to process automation through stable API integrations.

In the case of SAP, their API library is massive and remarkably stable. They are very good at keeping their published APIs up to date between versions. 

One of our customers deployed our IPA platform on SAP ECC across the entire organization, starting with Customer Service and then moving to Sales, Procurement, Finance, and Production. In the end they had over 1200 automations in a production environment. When they upgraded to S4/HANA, not a single one of the automations broke!

Don’t stay on the sidelines. If you can save $30 million dollars annually on processes like Order to Cash or Customer Service, there’s no reason to not start your automation journey. Just be smart about your choice of platform and systems integrator.