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ERP Process Automation Demands More than a Simple Scheduling Solution

In this era of rapid digital transformation, enterprise-wide ERP process automation matters more than ever. Here's why.

Tony Beeston
Tony Beeston, May 10, 2017 10:30 am
Blog > AWA | Workload Automation | Finance Automation | ERP > ERP Process Automation Demands More than a Simple Scheduling Solution

The car you drive, the food you eat, the clothes you wear and the phone calls you make are all touched by an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Whether it’s Oracle, SAP or another supplier, the ERP software and processes manage the back-office functions of every major industry.

So if you use ERP at the core of your business processing, it’s important to get it right. Now more than ever. In the application economy, almost every business is becoming a software-driven business. Successful organizations need an ERP platform defined to deliver agility, speed to market and innovation.

Not enough organizations have one though. While ERP applications have become the systems of record for many businesses, they have also become a major bottleneck to agile operations, faster processes and transactional scale.

Too often, ERP processes are not extended beyond their line of business silo. ERP information is not connected seamlessly to data warehouse and Big Data initiatives - stifling timely analysis and reporting. Significant manual intervention often leads to errors and increased processing times. And when change is needed, it cannot come quickly enough: new functionality to satisfy customer demand quickly can’t be added without impacting operational systems.

The Tangible Financial Benefits of ERP Automation

A good and measurable barometer of the challenge facing organizations is the financial close process. The difference between the most and least efficient companies is measured at a saving of 53 cents per thousand dollars of company revenue. As the Hackett group reported this can equate an unnecessary $5M of spend per billion in revenue.

And while such a significant reduction in costs might not be possible immediately, by the end of the financial year, significant gains – more than the cost of implementation – can realistically be made.

The financial close process runs monthly, quarterly and yearly, and is not just limited to the ERP application. Information needs to be pulled from across the business before it reaches the ERP. This information can be held in multiple applications or databases. Once in the ERP, this data needs to be driven through multiple modules which have critical dependencies that must be executed in the correct sequence. Once completed, the resulting data needs to be pushed into data warehouses or analytics platforms for business reporting.

The coordination of this process is paramount to eliminate errors and delays, as well as providing businesses with the visibility and governance it requires.

Automation Means More Than an ERP Scheduler

You’ve probably got this far reading and think you’re safe. You have an automation solution and/or scheduler to support core processes within your ERP environment. What’s the fuss all about? This automation is helping you to reduce manual effort.

Here’s the problem: These point automation solutions don’t go far enough. To compete at the pace of your competitors, you need to transition from opportunistic, point solutions to an enterprise-wide systematic approach to ERP automation. This provides a cohesive platform for process automation across the entire enterprise supporting reuse, agility, visibility and compliance.

A systematic automation platform supports multiple forms of automation from one central environment. It connects the ERP applications with the business processes they support, other applications and data sources in the ecosystem and the underlying infrastructure. This greatly improves visibility across the entire process and ensures that ERP investments are fully realized.

The Internet of Things (IoT) also changes the dynamics. Your ERP system needs to be extensible to incorporate new applications and flexible to adapt to changing business demands that come with hyper connectivity. For example, integrating an automated manufacturing process into your SAP HANA or Oracle ERP environment. Forget the opportunistic, point automation tools or scripts: They lack the complete process automation, release automation, extensibility and auditing capabilities demanded by IoT.

Automate On-Premise, Cloud and Hybrid ERP Environments

A complete business automation platform – such as from Automic – executes core business, application and infrastructure processes across the on-premise, cloud and hybrid environments so prevalent in the application economy. It delivers a unified flexible approach to automation that can be adopted incrementally, providing end-to-end visibility across the entire business.

From a workload automation perspective, such a platform executes core business processes based on business events or via a self-service catalog. Workflow templates support critical activities for ERP business applications, from Oracle and SAP, to Hadoop and Big Data.

Make no mistake, a systematic business automation platform help business leaders run, build and transform their ERP environments. In this era of rapid digital transformation, that matters more than ever.

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Tony Beeston

Tony Beeston

Tony Beeston is Product Marketing Manager at Automic Software, and has over 30 years’ industry experience. For the last 15 of these he has been delivering solutions for running end-to-end business processes across ERP systems to companies worldwide.