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Robotic process automation streamlines invoicing in SAP

  • Phillipe De Decker
    Phillipe De Decker

Even in today’s digital world, companies still face challenges when it comes to data processing, streamlining processes and cost optimization. Answering incoming requests, processing multichannel data and managing data in ERP systems are tedious, sometimes leading to human error, lower productivity and even burnout. As a result, automating slow and repetitive processes using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology is a key consideration for forward-thinking businesses.

To shed more light on innovative automation solutions, Flexso collaborated with robotics automation firm RoboRana to automate incoming invoice processing in SAP Fiori.

Efficiency gains, productivity boosts, enhanced UX

RPA robots can perform repetitive activities 24/7 and handle data with high consistency and accuracy. In addition, RPA is a non-invasive technology requiring zero changes to the existing IT environment. RPA allows organizations to save time, reduce errors and focus on higher-value tasks, boosting efficiency.

The ‘grunt work’ of processing incoming invoices

Accountants can process up to 250 invoices every day – a repetitive task involving huge volumes of data from different sources – the perfect context for RPA. RoboRana collaborated with Flexso to automate incoming invoice processing in SAP Fiori, a web-based SAP user experience interface bridging business, tasks, and devices. The goal? To demonstrate the value of a robot capable of booking invoices in SAP Fiori as well as (or better than) an accountant.

Traditionally, a human accountant receives new invoices from different vendors and retrieves critical data such as vendor, date, amount, goods, tax and cost center. Then, they launch Fiori and choose the correct transaction to insert the retrieved data. The accountant then selects the correct G/L account, tax code and cost center. The transaction is posted, and the invoice is moved into a ‘processed invoice’ folder.

While this process is similar for each invoice, it requires a lot of manual effort and lends itself to errors. By processing vendor invoices in a more accurate and automated way, companies can enhance productivity, cash flow and stakeholder relations.

Machines (help) do the (boring) work

In the automated process, the RPA bot starts by monitoring a dedicated inbox for new invoices. Running in the background, the robot instantly reads invoices of all kinds, capturing critical data in the same intelligent way that a human accountant would do – but based on keyword recognition, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and keyword relationships.

The robot then launches Fiori, logs in and selects the correct transaction to create incoming invoices. Next, it inserts the invoice data and locates the correct G/L account, tax code and cost center by comparing goods, tax percentage and cost center with the correct accounts from extracted SAP data tables. Finally, the transaction is posted, and every invoice is moved to a different folder. The robot also logs successful transactions and exceptions.

It takes a human more than 4 minutes and 30 clicks per invoice to execute the complete operation, while the robot handles this process in less than 1 minute per invoice, including all automated clicks and checks.

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Intelligent solutions for unstructured data processing

In this use case, the robot will only perform the tasks that it is programmed to do. However, one of the biggest challenges is the ‘smart’ capturing and interpretation of unstructured data inputs such as emails, PDFs and scanned documents from different channels. Before adopting RPA, a business needs to consider broadening its capabilities by developing a cognitive vision. This will allow the organization to focus not only on lower-value tasks but to ascend the value chain to drive greater efficiencies.
With or without RPA, digitizing business processes and making data-driven decisions, is what Flexso’s all about. One of our recent projects at logistics firm ODTH illustrates that.

In search of a smart automation solution for your repetitive business processes? Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you.

More about RoboRana:
RoboRana has helped organizations accelerate, innovate and transform through the intelligent automation of manual and repetitive processes since July 2017. Its core business is the application of robotic process automation (RPA) technology, which involves software robots that mimic human actions by interacting with applications in a non-invasive manner. The technology combines state-of-the-art automation functionalities in a single platform, enabling businesses to deploy a virtual workforce capable of constantly and accurately performing rules-based actions.

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