iRPA is the SAP Process Automation solution which enables the automation of business processes which are usually repetitive and based on business rules.
In this blog series we will explain the SAP iRPA solution, its main components and some of its interesting concepts:
- SAP iRPA: Overview and Architecture
- SAP iRPA: Cloud Studio
- SAP iRPA: Scripting
- SAP iRPA: Use case final video
SAP iRPA was born from the purchase of the French company Contextor in 2018 (hidden in the solution you can find several comments from the developers in French) and the solution was presented at Sapphire during the autumn of 2018. Over the past two years SAP has been working extremely hard to integrate the solution with its products and within its cloud development platform SAP BTP and we can say, from our experience, that the result is quite satisfactory.
The product is made up of several components:
⦁ Desktop Agent
⦁ Desktop Studio
⦁ Cloud Factory in BTP
Illustration 1: Main components of SAP iRPA
In order to carry out an iRPA project you must have a subscription and a SAP BTP user.
Desktop Agent is the agent that is installed in the user workstation and allows script automations to be executed.
Desktop Studio is a development environment which enables process automations to be created and which is installed in the workstation.
Cloud Factory contains a set of functions which enables you to develop and define the execution environment and monitor process automations.
In order to access Cloud Factory you need to log on to SAP BTP and once you have subscibed to the SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation service you can access all its functions.
Illustration 2: BTP Cockpit home page
- Cloud Factory has a set of functions, the most important ones are:
- Cloud Studio: It allows you to define process automations.
- Monitoring: It enables you to monitor job executions.
- Environment: It enables you to define the process automation execution environment.
- Store: It enables you to download preconfigured automation scenarios to automate processes in SAP ECC – S/4 HANA.
- Below is an example of the Cloud Factory home page where you can see a dashboard with the development and execution status of the objects. Via this screen you can access the application functions
Illustration 3: Cloud Factory home page
On access to the RPA store there is a fairly extensive catalogue of preconfigured templates.
Illustration 4: the RPA store has a comprehensive catalogue of prebuilt scenarios which can be downloaded and reused.
Furthermore, monitoring enables you to view, on a centralised basis, the execution status of the processes and control them if errors are detected.
Environments has a very important role within Cloud Factory when it comes to deploying the process in the production environment given that it is here where we will define the Triggers that will launch our automations.
Illustration 4: main screen where the Environment components are accessed and defined
Here, all features can be defined in order to define the iRPA execution environment:
- Agents: Connected agents that execute the process
- Packages: these are deployed packages that are distributed to agents and which can be executed
- Triggers: Events which can launch the execution of a process. A Trigger can be:
- Created by an API call either externally or from another component of the BTP
- Planned: for a set time or day
- Dealt with: the user launches the process manually
- Variables: variables can be defined for the process execution (for example, depending on development, quality, production)
- Alerts: These enable you to define alerts should certain events occur (for example, when the agent logs off)
Where are the scenarios developed? The system offers two options: Desktop Studio and Cloud Studio.
So then, does the system have two development environments? Which should I choose?
On the Internet there are lots of tutorials which teach you how to define an RPA process from Desktop Studio. But the fact is, SAP is pushing much more towards the development of scenarios from Cloud Studio: Desktop Studio is the legacy of Contextor, whilst Cloud Studio is the new development environment implemented by SAP which is fully integrated in SAP BTP.
Cloud Studio is much more advanced and enables you to define scenarios much faster and more easily. The most obvious advantages of Cloud Studio are:
- Cloud Studio offers the function of recording a series of user actions in order to then obtain an outline of the process to be implemented
- The development can be shared between different people
- UI interaction with SAP tools:
- SAP Fiori
- Predefined S/4 HANA content
- UI interaction with Non-SAP tools:
- Third-party tools, web and legacy applications, and Internet portals (Outlook, Excel, Word, Google Chrome, Edge…)
Without a doubt, we recommend carrying out the development process from Cloud Studio.
In the next post we will focus on the details of the Cloud Studio tool.
I hope this post has been useful for getting to know about the SAP iRPA environment.