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Best Fintech Solution Winner: British American Tobacco

Published: Aug 2020

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Photo of Diana-Iulia Macarascu, Head of Global Treasury Operations.

Diana-Iulia Macarascu

Head of Global Treasury Operations

British American Tobacco plc (BAT) is a cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company headquartered in London, England. BAT has a market-leading position in over 50 countries and operations in around 180 countries.

GUI and API solution to standard settlement instructions headache

The challenge

As a part of a larger IHC/POBO/ROBO/bank statement implementation project, BAT identified many business partners which had to be updated with new standard settlement instructions (SSIs). The overall project started in March 2019 and went with the go live in September 2019.

The company had to create and assign SSIs in SAP at business partner level for specific product types in an accurate, timely and auditable manner.

Challenges:

  • Volume: over 65.000+ records needed to be uploaded.

  • Implementation time:

    • The manual creation and assignment of SSIs for business partners was time consuming (estimated time 70 working days).

    • The implementation activities could only take place during the weekends, to prevent disruption of the processes in the system live environment.

    • The upload of the SSIs into the live system environment needed to be finalised in a very short time span in order to avoid delaying other dependent migration activities. There was very limited time to develop and test an automated solution.

  • Limited resources: the available resources to dedicate to a manual upload scenario were limited.

  • Data quality: manual process is highly error-prone and there was no tolerance for errors in the organisation.

  • Mistakes in the SSIs would cause an incorrect/failed settlement of deals. At the same time, the risk of manual error was very high, because users had to pick exactly the right SSI/deal type combination in a long list of items.

  • The solution

    BAT automated the creation and assignment of SSI’s for business partners in SAP, developed by Zanders’ (robotic) process automation team who designed a custom-built solution leveraging the SAP GUI Scripting API. A programme was built to allow Excel to interact directly with SAP GUI via the API. The tailor-made programme replicates exactly what the manual steps would have been, but with the added benefits of eliminating the risk of (human) error; performing additional checks and validations to avoid data quality errors; speed of execution and the ability to run tirelessly 24/7.

    Best practice and innovation

    The essence of this solution is the speed at which it was implemented. The first working prototype was ready in just one day. The development was incredibly fast, and the solution was finalised and tested in three days. The solution is fast and repeatable and human errors are eliminated.

    All activity is logged, traceable and auditable and the solution is safe; all validations and authorisation checking applicable to the manual process are maintained.

    Key benefits

  • 70 days of estimated work was executed in just seven days, including prototyping, developing and testing the custom solution.

    • No time had to be spent in procuring licenses or additional software. The solution was tailor-made using the SAP GUI Scripting API channel and Excel.

    • Flawless execution, no errors and auditable work.

    • Overall project risk mitigation: a quick execution of this risky migration activity eliminated the risk of delays in dependent activities that followed.

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