Supply Chain Management

Over the years, enterprises have invested millions of dollars in embracing some types of SCM Supply Chain Management system. But now digital transformation is playing a vital role in supply chain management and changing the way these enterprises conduct operations, fulfill orders and deliver products. RPA is transforming logistics and supply chains as there are several aspects of supply chain management which are very well-suited for RPA. RPA automates critical yet repetitive processes, driving efficiency and faster deliveries in an industry driven by speed and precision. 

RPA is being used in supply chain management to automate and accelerate tasks that were once performed manually. These include customer relationship management & ordering, supplier relationship management & procurement, transportation & logistics, and supply & demand planning as described below.

Many businesses utilize disparate information systems for business functions such as CRM, ERP, accounting etc. For every transaction done for a customer the customer information is updated in multiple systems for that particular business function. For an effective customer service this needs to be regularly updated across all systems. This task of updating is usually done manually and is time consuming as well as error prone when the volumes may be high. Such manual tasks spanning multiple information systems are a prime candidate to automate using RPA. This results in up to date customer information across all systems allowing customer service teams in providing quality customer service while providing assistance to customers and strengthen the customer relationship.

Vendor selection is one among the time-consuming operations in SCM as it includes loads of manual processes like:

  • Requisition preparation
  • Shortlisted vendor Communication with vendors
  • Document verification and credits evaluation
  • Vendor finalization

The above processes are rule based and hence with you finalize the vendor selection in accordance with predefined criteria. RPA bots can complete these steps in a very short time to accomplish as against several hours if done manually. Bots can improve efficiency by offering an automated approval workflow.

For an organization to have the right product mix and reduce prices, it becomes imperative to have more than one supplier, thus making supplier relationship management a very important task. This involves selecting new suppliers, negotiating contracts, onboarding them into the system, monitoring their performance.

To minimize risks, optimize the product mix and reduce procurement costs, it is often necessary to adjust supplier relationships. These processes typically have many manual steps, such as forms to be filled, documents to be created and messages to be sent. RPA can automate these manual tasks, and even take rules-based decisions, leaving discretionary decisions to humans, so that effort involved is minimized. The products offered and their prices for any given supplier keeping varying over time and their catalog needs to be updated on a regular basis. The process of updating the catalogs can benefit greatly from RPA, as the effort, cost, and time taken for updating supplier catalogs would be greatly reduced, and the error rate would also decrease. Notifications can also be generated automatically based on business rules.

The efficiency of a supply chain depends on the ability of the organization to forecast its inventory needs. This process involves examining complex data sets such as current inventory levels, custom orders, sales targets, historical sales data, market indicators, seasonal fluctuations, price trends, to name just a few. And as this data comes from various sources like vendors, customers, and internal teams it can be time consuming and prone to errors. Correlation of all this data can be challenging and consuming. Further, rules, corrections and notifications may need to be applied, and the entire process needs to be repeated frequently.

With the help of RPA it becomes easy and more efficient to ingest and analyze this data by gathering and merging information, preparing data for manual analysis, and sharing it with planners. With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, RPA bot predict the demands and enables the procurement team to make more accurate forecasts.

To ensure products as well as spares to meet the business demands are readily available it is extremely crucial to be aware of the inventory levels. Thus inventory becomes the backbone of a supply chains. Managing inventory at optimal levels while tracking data along the chain can be extremely complex. Manually tracking of each and every item which can run into thousands as they move across service areas is time-consuming and prone to error.

RPA helps continuously monitor inventory as it flows throughout the warehouse and notify when levels are low. It also helps tracking inventory as it flows throughout the warehouse from receiving to shelves to production to shipping. In the best case, bots can reorder the products that go below a threshold level.

Transportation and Logistics is driven by time-critical, manual tasks where information is managed in electronic or paper-based documents such as scheduling, bill of lading, tracking shipments, proof-of-delivery and invoices that typically require staff to work with multiple forms, labels, applications, websites, etc. 

Automation of such tasks allows accurate and real-time tracking of shipments, which further aids planning. RPA brings efficiency to these tasks while saving time and reducing errors. Software bots work 24/7, providing an efficient and scalable freight management workflow.

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