Organizations are looking for tools or approaches to reduce the number of platforms they use to manage core business processes. Within that context, Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) has vastly improved its capabilities from versions below the latest release, which is R12.2.
These improvements can also be easily accessed by Oracle EBS clients who’ve migrated from their old on-premises version. In that regard, by being on the latest version of R12.2 on-premises or being migrated to the cloud, EBS users can benefit from the many innovations and continued investments that Oracle continues to pledge for EBS.
Application leaders must understand how their industry will evolve to better anticipate change, inform strategic decision making, and stay aligned with enterprise application strategy. All of these elements together call for application leaders to modernize their EBS software to leverage the latest technologies.
Cue Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA adoption is increasingly growing on a yearly basis, and RPA software was set to reach the $2 billion dollar mark by the end of 2021.
Despite the rapid growth and adoption of RPA, application and software engineering leaders should refrain from looking at RPA as a remedy for a jumbled array of scenarios, and instead focus on selecting use cases that meet key criteria.
So, how can EBS application leaders discern which are the right use cases for robotic process automation? The quick answer is that you need to prioritize EBS use cases for RPA by taking into account the volume, scope, complexity, and predictability of the use case/project.
Another rule of thumb is to avoid use cases that have graphical data requirements, inefficient processes, poor data quality, and extremely high or low volume iterations.
Realistically, of course, you need more details to make such decisions. In this blog, we’re going to expand on each of these criteria priorities in the hopes of making it easier for you to choose the right use cases for RPA in EBS.
Choosing the Right RPA Use Cases in EBS 12.2
Responsible for modernizing your EBS application, you must first:
- Identify the appropriate method of modernization, as we mentioned before, you can either upgrade to R12.2.x, migrate to the cloud, or engage in a hybrid coexistence where only certain workloads are moved to the cloud.
- Reduce the complexity of your customizations and 3rd party integrations by using standard capabilities in the latest EBS releases.
- Improve operational flexibility by using Online Patching to access advanced capabilities as soon as Oracle deploys new fixes, updates, or security patches.
Now, as far as identifying the right use cases for RPA, you must always ask yourself if there is a better alternative to what you’re currently doing. If the answer is no, use the four key considerations that we mentioned above (volume, scope, complexity, predictability) to vet the use cases and determine whether they are a good fit. Let’s break down each of the considerations:
Does the process you are evaluating happen frequently enough to justify implementing RPA? Processes that don’t execute on a regular basis provide little ROI and are more likely to bring unexpected changes that will hinder automation.
What’s the number of steps in the candidate use case? Remember to evaluate individual processes and not combinations of processes. There should be no more than 15 as a best practice.
Use cases should have simple business rules. Avoid use cases with more than 7 “if-else” blocks. Remember that conditional statements should be expressed in a format that can be resolved by automation.
Is the process likely to change? Review the history of changes in addition to any planned changes to identify how stable it is. RPA in stable processes will need less maintenance and fewer changes.
When RPA is Not the Answer
It’s recommended that you shy away from using RPA in use cases where you need to cover issues with current processes. Avoid automating bad processes as it’ll be like applying a small band-aid to an open wound, creating more work in the long run to correct. Instead, align RPA with business strategy so you can clearly define the benefit to the business. The best RPA use cases in EBS, and anywhere for that matter, have a high business impact and are easy to automate.
These are the characteristics of bad RPA use cases:
- Graphical data requirements. RPA thrives on structured data where outcomes are predictable. Graphical data introduces the potential for unaccounted consequences or a high rate of errors.
- Inefficient processes. If you were to choose to automate inefficient processes, you would only be masking inefficiencies or make bad processes run faster. Either way, RPA will prolong rather than solve underlying problems.
- Poor data quality. RPA normally takes source data and propagates it through other systems. If the source data is flawed, these will spread to any downstream system that is part of the automation process.
- Extremely high or low volume iterations. Processes with few iterations will not benefit from RPA. Processes with an extremely large number of iterations may be more suited for alternative processes that provide better resilience, error handling, auditing, and recovery options.
Application leaders face substantial challenges when embarking on a full or partial migration from Oracle E-Business Suite. Organizations that fail to undertake essential migration-readiness analysis are risking delays and escalating costs.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a fairly common development practice that many application delivery partners are well versed in.