SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation's 2.0 release is on the horizon and while we look forward to the future of automation with low and no code development, we can see the biggest differences by looking back. A few months ago I wrote an article about automating data extraction from SAP Ariba, you can find it here.
With 2.0 we can recreate that project and build it even faster, without writing code. As a developer focused on web-based automation, the improvements that I have appreciated the most are the improved page capture, element declaration, and loop creation.
Have you been holding off on automating processes in Ariba due to development concerns? With 2.0 the product team has made RPA accessible to business users at all skill levels. In this new release of SAP IRPA we get the Cloud Studio which brings multiple improvements to workflow creation.
Note: Included screenshots are of a beta release and may be changed before the full release
Page Capture in 2.0
Capturing pages is the foundation of all web based automation. While the process of capturing pages in 2.0 is like the way it was done previously, improvements have been made to speed up the process. To capture a webpage in the cloud studio we start by selecting "Create Automation", then a list of open windows will appear and you can select the screen you would like to capture.
Once you select the screen you would like to capture the Cloud Studio will show a preview of the screen and you can review the prefilled parameters. You will see the application name, capture technology, and identifiers have all been populated automatically so all you need to do is select capture.
In the screenshot below you can see the page I captured and its preselected criteria, with one click I was able to capture the application, page, and set recognition criteria. It has selected criteria for both the application and page capture.
After you select capture it will capture both the application and the webpage, previously you needed to first capture the application, then capture the webpage. Once the page is captured you will notice a checkmark next to the name, this is the indicator that it has unique criteria to identify the page, in the desktop studio it would become green after you manually selected criteria. In 2.0 the Cloud Studio automatically selects the criteria for both the application and webpage, allowing development to move smoothly and not require manually selecting criteria to identify each page.
Once you have your pages captured it is time to select some elements for the bot to interact with during your process. You can choose to select an element from the screenshot of your captured page, or you can select an element from the DOM (Document Object Model) structure. Once you select an element you can see all the captured information populated and the Cloud Studio has already selected a unique criteria for you, again increasing the speed, efficiency, and ease of development. It will also let you know if the item is uniquely identified before you declare it. So all you need to do to declare an element is click on it in either the page screenshot or the DOM tree, and then select declare element once you see it has been uniquely identified.
In the previous Ariba tutorial we used some of the advanced declaration techniques of "Must Exist" and "Must not Exist" in order to differentiate some pages that shared a similar framework. These have now been highlighted by being included above the list of elements in order to make those techniques more accessible while declaring elements.
Loop Creation in 2.0
Loops are extremely useful when building a workflow for RPA, most processes that are targeted are repetitive processes and in order to have your bot do those repetitive actions you need to use a loop in your workflow. There are 'For Loops' which loop through a list, 'Repeated Loops' which loop for a set amount of intervals, and there are 'Forever Loops' that will continue looping until a condition is met. In the Ariba Loop tutorial we used a forever loop to download each of the records from Ariba until there were no more records to download. To create one in the cloud studio is easy. First you drag the loop onto your workflow.
Once you have the loop node on your workflow you can enter your parameters on the settings for each node. This loop works by repeating the same process and after each loop it stops to check if it should continue. If it tests after a loop and it is done it will continue to the next steps in the workflow after the loop. So if you are using a loop to download records from Ariba, it would check at the end of each loop to see if it has downloaded the last record, if it has it would move on to the next step. With this new visualization for loop creation, loops are more accessible to business users without a development background by showing the loop in a visual way instead of being code based.
SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0 has a focus on enabling development with low or no code. With the Cloud Studio development has never been more accessible. In just a short time you can develop your first automated process and begin enjoying the benefits of automated Ariba processes. Now that you have a grasp of SAP IRPA 2.0 and the improvements it brings to building automated processes, what process will you automate?