Innovation & Technology
Solve the digital Rubik's Cube with intelligent information management & SAP, Part 2
Digitalization is like a Rubik's Cube: intelligence is key to unlocking the winning sequence of moves. Each turn makes an important contribution to the big picture. Yet trying to solve the digitalization Rubik's Cube with SAP alone will only result in a half-finished, semi-intelligent solution. In part 1 of this article, I demonstrated how an intelligent information management system integrates seamlessly with SAP to offer flexibly combinable building blocks as the basis for end-to-end digitalization, also in the cloud. In this second part, I’ll show you how automation and intelligence based on an ECM solution enhances specific SAP processes, such as invoice processing, contract management, HR and more.
ECM is no longer a dumb background archive
Hand on heart: Which SAP customer can genuinely claim to deploy SAP across their entire company? The reality is that SAP is used in individual areas: HCM — now SuccessFactors — in HR, FI in accounts, Claims Management in the department of the same name... the list goes on. But end customers aren’t interested in why the call center can’t access orders in SAP or provide details about delivery statuses; they expect direct and automatic answers. Departments without SAP access still need a complete overview of all business processes and associated information, just like SAP users need access to documents outside of SAP. The insular SAP world does not distinguish between SAP users and non-SAP users. Unfortunately, the reality is very different. An ECM system bridges the gap between the two and consolidates all systems on a unified platform: the ERP system, additional CRM systems, business applications, email programs, databases and all applications used to create and file documents. All information contained within these sources can be found via a single source of truth, irrespective of system installations and terminal equipment. Companies that introduced ECM very early on were originally only keen to benefit from this archive function: They wanted centrally available documents and data, and audit-proof storage.
The days of ECM as a dumb background archive are now long gone. Of course, there are still lean archive solutions on the market that do nothing else. But tackling the Rubik's Cube of digitalization with such tools is futile — they lack the necessary intelligence and process automation capabilities. ECM systems like Doxis offer not only ECM services but also process services and cognitive services for intelligent, automated information management. They are the perfect addition to SAP for seamless document and process management in many different areas. Here are a few examples:
The pilot: Invoices
For most companies that already benefit from the audit-proof archiving of SAP documents with an ECM system, the next step is to introduce inbound invoice automation. While SAP is great at posting invoices, it doesn’t offer verification and release processes. The SER Group designed the Doxis Intelligent Invoice Automation module to fully automate these steps in the ECM system — from arrival to automatic posting. This spares SAP users from inputting invoices manually and speeds up matters significantly. AI-based assistance means the system is much better than humans at spotting missing line items or discrepancies between orders and invoices. Crucially, in contrast to the much-hyped area of robotic process automation (RPA), not only does Doxis transfer data automatically, but it can also map and manage entire processes that involve documents and tasks. No SAP or RPA solution is capable of this. Rather than blindly following the latest trend, companies should take a close look at their actual needs. Does the process involve data and runs the exact same way each time? Then RPA is a suitable option. Are processes document-based and do users need to make on-the-fly adjustments or introduce entirely new processes? In this case, an ECM platform with content and process services is the answer. They can both automate processes that follow the same pattern and replicate countless other application scenarios.
Intelligent design: Purchase-to-pay and order-to-cash
The logical next step is to automate processes that are related to invoice processing. From checking order confirmations and reminders from suppliers, to handling payment notifications and customer complaints: An ECM system can do it all using automated, AI-assisted workflows. AUGUST STORCK KG is a prime example: Storck automated its purchase-to-pay and order-to-cash processes with Doxis Intelligent Automation and SAP. The benefits of automation are not limited to improved collaboration with suppliers and retailers. Automation also mitigates the risk of financial losses and simplifies liquidity planning. As a confectionery manufacturer, Stork must comply with stringent rules and regulations, document the sustainability of raw materials, the safety of its ingredients and much more. With the ECM system and SAP, all of these requirements can be incorporated as necessary. The entire P2P and O2C process chain is supported across all relevant departments, managed intelligently and flexibly adaptable.
React faster: Company-wide contract management
Contracts are ubiquitous in companies: from customer, service provider, supplier, and employee contracts to leasing contracts and office real estate rentals. A major challenge many companies are now facing is the need to adjust these contracts — and fast. New delivery terms or changes to working hours must be incorporated without delay. An ECM system such as Doxis automates contractual agreements and simplifies both contract changes and compliance with the associated termination deadlines — all of which are crucial elements if companies are to react quickly to changing market demands and disentangle themselves from legacy commitments. Where the intelligence aspect comes in: Examples include the quick and error-free transfer of data on contract partners from SAP into the contracts, the automatic creation of contract files and filing of contracts accordingly as soon as a new contract partner is created in SAP, and the launch of relevant downstream processes (orders, etc.) once the contract is signed.
Doxis Contract Management
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Attract and retain customers: Automation in service
Just a few years ago, many companies would have cited cost reductions and process efficiency gains as their driving motivation to introduce automation. Today, they are increasingly recognizing above all that automated processes optimize employee workloads, support decision-making e.g. on risk assessments for new customers, and as a result shorten customer service response times. Insurers such as DEVK are a typical example. For their settlement processes, they use SAP Claims Management and archive all associated documents with Doxis. By contrast, ECM is the leading system wherever documents are in the spotlight. This approach enables DEVK to digitize and manage all inbound documents directly upon arrival, route tasks country-wide, and process new applications, contracts and much more. Customers and employees alike are happy with the results: The time and resources spent on mail distribution has dropped by 75%, making same-day responses to customer inquiries a matter of course. Such short lead times wouldn’t be possible with SAP alone.
Get experts started immediately: Automated HR processes
Even in times of coronavirus, companies still need experts — after all, retirement waits for no one. But that’s not the only reason. In fact, many service-only (i.e. non-production) companies continue to pursue their HR strategy unabated with new hires in full swing. The goal of course is to integrate these new employees as quickly as possible. The Krone Group shows how workflow-supported onboarding makes it possible: As soon as a new employee is added in SAP, Doxis automatically creates an electronic personnel file and launches the onboarding workflow. HR, Purchasing, IT and Facility Management are automatically notified when the new colleague’s workstation and PC, keycard, business applications, company car and training need to be set up. Intelligent automation connects them with multiple departments. As a result, new employees no longer have to sit around on their first day waiting for equipment to arrive.
Robust at the core
The original Rubik's Cube has 43 trillion possible permutations. Thankfully, companies pursuing a digitalization strategy have it much easier. The examples above show the versatility of combining SAP and intelligent ECM. But remember, not every ECM system is this capable. Intelligent solutions must have intelligence at their core if they are to be deployed for all information and processes that are managed using the ECM system. With AI and automation forming integral components of the Doxis ECM platform, it is capable of replicating and intelligently managing everything from straightforward to highly complex processes. And all companies that plan to use exclusively cloud-based solutions to solve their digitalization Rubik's Cube should take note: SaaS offerings and managed services not only make the implementation, administration and maintenance of ECM solutions calculable, but they also enable rapid, scalable deployment, and integrate fully with SAP solutions from the word go. The result: An interconnected and a flexible basis on which companies can combine unlimited new intelligent and automated processes — to solve the digitalization Rubik's Cube in the face of both current and future challenges.
This article was originally published in the German publication E-3 Magazin im September 2020 ⯈
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