Robots

by Arwold Koelewijn on November 24, 2018

One of the topics that is getting more attention lately is ‘Robotics Process Automation’ (RPA). At Tacstone we build a new proposition on this service. In essence this is a new software service that allows to automate processes, without having to modify the existing software systems. The software can logon, simulate keyboard- and mouse input, and reads information from the screen. This service is most useful for processes that are highly repetitive and with a relative high volume. In this blog I like to explain a use case we implemented a few years ago, based on a similar principle.

In our case, we wanted to make beautiful reports which we then could distribute as pdf. The tool we wanted to work with, SAP Design Studio (SAP Lumira Designer these days), allows for making these beautiful reports. Unfortunately, the standard function to print to pdf is very limited, and at the time in 2014, Design Studio 1.2, it was not possible to automate that as well.

To solve the problem of properly printing, we developed an SDK component, that could handle this in the desired way. With this SDK component, it was possible to push a print button, and the default ‘print to pdf’ from you browser shows up, with the lay-out just right. All you need to do now is ‘save as pdf’.

This was already a huge progress. At the time we thought that since scheduling is a basic functionally that SAP had built in the past for their Bex tools, SAP will build this in the new tools as well. Considering this, we might as well have an intern or something, manually running these reports and saving them as pdf. On average the intern can do maybe 20 in an hour, so that might be ok. So there we had a fallback scenario to continue on this route.

But of course this sounds like a horrible job, so we tried to figure out a way to automate this. A long story short, with the use of PhantomJS, Java and ABAP, we managed to build a robot that was able to mimic this human interface, without having to wait for standard SAP functionality.

At the moment, the robot has been in production for more than three years, and has produced more than 80.000 pdf reports, and is still going strong. Had we had an intern doing this manually, it would have taken this person more than 4000 working hours! Making this robot was therefore a sound investment. Also, the standard functionality SAP is offering about scheduling is, not as sophisticated as we need. So although the robot started out as a temporary solution, it is becoming pretty permanent.

In conclusion: A robot to replace your human interface is worthwhile considering!

Scrum please!

April 20, 2018

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a Scrum Master training, given by Zilverline. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first about Scrum. I am a trained Prince2 Practitioner, so I figured, this is probably “just old wine in new bags”, as we say in Holland. And in a way that is […]

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Enterprise deep learning with TensorFlow

December 9, 2017

An interesting course offered by openSAP is Enterprise deep learning with TensorFlow, which is currently running in its last week. I found this a great insight in the current state of machine learning possibilities. It was a very hands-on training where it was possible to play with TensorFlow Applications, an open-source library for numerical computation. […]

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Getting Started with Data Science

October 8, 2017

O n March this year I enrolled in the open sap course ‘Getting Started with Data Science’. It was a great insight in the business value a data scientist can have and how SAP can make their life easier. Some elements I like to point out. Project methodology What I really liked in the course […]

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SAP Lumira and Tableau compared

August 3, 2017

SAP Lumira and Tableau are both data visualization tools that can be used to explore data. Recently I did small projects in both tools, so I am finally able to make a comparison. Tableau Based on my experience of working with Tableau (version 10.3) I found that the tool is amazingly rich. There is great […]

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HERUG 2017

May 16, 2017

Last month (April 2017) I had the pleasure to attend the Higher Education & Research User Group (HERUG) conference in Amsterdam. I was also an presenter at two sessions. On Tuesday I was presenting together with Pieter-Jan Aartsen of the UvA about the project we did with the implementation of the IMR. Partly this has […]

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Integration of SAP Lumira in an existing environment

March 15, 2017

SAP Lumira is a great tool with a lot of possibilities. However, when it comes to the integration in an existing environment, there remain a few inconveniences. Imagine an existing environment where several connected applications have been built with SAP Design Studio, based on SAP BW, which is reached through a SAP Netweaver portal, using […]

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International Business Communication Standards: first baby steps

October 23, 2016

This week I brought a report live that uses the International Business Communication Standards (IBCS) as the guideline in presenting information. Although this report can only be considered as a small baby step, still the benefits of using standards are clear. In the begin of this year I was at the book launch of the […]

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SAP BW/4HANA – the next step towards simplicity

September 9, 2016

Last month SAP has announced the next generation of SAP Business Warehouse, BW/4HANA. This logical step in the evolution of the Business Warehouse is completely dedicated to the HANA platform, and as such, can do without millions lines of coding to support other databases. Also, it has unloaded the heritage of previous SAP BW versions […]

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Text Analytics and Text Mining with SAP HANA platform

March 23, 2016

Last month I finished the Open SAP Course Text Analytics with SAP HANA Platform. This was a nice opportunity to get a grip of the concepts involved. So in this blog, I give a short overview of the concepts I learned about Text Analytics and Text Mining. Text Analytics Text Analytics can be used to: search […]

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SAP BO Design Studio – release 1.6 is out

December 11, 2015

In April 2015 I wrote an evaluation about the experience we had with SAP BO Design Studio 1.3, after being live for 5 months. The general feeling was that the new application was a huge substantial improvement, but we were also waiting for some enhancements to come. So now, with the new release of Design […]

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Correlation and causation

October 4, 2015

These days I am reading the new book of Stephen Few, Signal. As always with books of Stephen Few, it sets my daily work in a new perspective and is inspiration for several ideas. One of the chapters I particularly like is about ‘correlation and causation’. To summarize the conclusion: it is important to always […]

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Build Your Own SAP Fiori App in the Cloud

May 11, 2015

Yesterday I submitted my SAP Fiori UX Design and Build Challenge as part of the open sap course: Build Your Own SAP Fiori App in the Cloud. I joined the course to learn more about Fiori. In this blog I write about the experience I had and the assignment I submitted. There are three parts […]

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