There has been an unprecedented demand for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in supply chain management as organizations strive for lower operational risk and operating costs as well as increased revenues. Let us look at some of RPA use cases in supply chain management and how companies are achieving several benefits such as:
- Lowering long-term costs
- Eliminating manual errors
- Increasing worker productivity
- Reducing frequency of inventory checks
- Optimizing selecting, sorting and storing times
Use case #1. Order Processing and Payments
The order processing and payments is a complex and laborious part of the supply chain that involves manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Add to it, there are numerous steps in this process such as product selection, entry of client data, payment processing, and order confirmation and its subsequent updates. Businesses are relying on RPA to overcome common issues faced in this process, including data inaccuracy and excessive loss of productivity. RPA in the supply chain ensures the order-to-cash cycle functions seamlessly and automates such back-office tasks.
Use case #2. Vendor Selection
RPA in the supply chain can help in automating the vendor selection process since the process includes various manual tasks such as preparing requests, communicating with vendors, documenting their information, and evaluating their credits. RPA helps in making informed decisions based on the vendor’s credit value and predefined criteria.
Use case #3. Mitigate Procurement Risk
Procurement is an area that is susceptible to risk while managing and expanding the supply chain network. Adjusting supplier relationships is a necessary to mitigate risks, improve the product mix, and reduce procurement costs. It involves manual processes like monitoring the supplier’s performance, negotiating contracts, and identifying new suppliers. All these steps are tedious as it involves steps like filling the form, creating documents, and sending emails. RPA in the supply chain can help automate these tasks and make rule-based decisions on behalf of the team.
Use case #4. Inventory Management
RPA can help in maintaining the optimum level of inventory to effectively meet business demands. These bots can notify when the stock levels are low and even re-order products that reach below the given threshold levels. Smart automation also allows the bot to consider historical data and forecast the optimal inventory levels.
Use case #5 Email Automation
An optimized supply chain requires a lot of email exchange between customers, transportation service providers, suppliers, and manufacturers. Emails are usually sent during situations such as delayed shipment, obstacles in order fulfillment, and order status notifications. All these communications can be sent by a bot and free human workforce to focus on more strategic tasks.
Use case #6. Logistics Management
Logistics is the backbone of the supply chain and requires people to work with multiple labels, systems, websites, and tools. When managed manually, it includes a bill of lading, proof-of-delivery, and invoices. An RPA bot can automate these tasks with 100% accuracy to ensure the right tracking of shipments.
Use case #7. Supply and Demand Planning
Supply and demand planning is another process that can be effectively automated with RPA. Supply and demand planning requires data gathering from various sources to make effective decisions. Since RPA can be deployed across various functions like a warehouse, inventory, and procurement, it can gather data in few minutes and allow businesses to manage demand and supply planning. Intelligent bots can also predict the demands and timely notify the procurement team.
Use case #8. Partner On-boarding
Partner on-boarding is another area where RPA can help immensely. RPA allows teams to process forms and contracts in multiple formats and verify the specified requirements in a fraction of time. These bots can enhance the team’s efficiency by creating an automated approval workflow.
Use case #9. Sales Order Creation
Manually handling purchase orders requires the team to create corresponding sales orders, which can be prone to errors and be time-consuming. To avoid such scenarios, RPA in the supply chain can automate these repetitive tasks and also automate the process of generating real-time reports and analyzing sales performance.
RPA in the supply chain is worth exploring to fully understand the competencies of these bots. It can provide a massive boost to order quantity and order fulfillment accuracy as well as a reduction in shipping delays. For companies wondering how to gain competitive advantage, this is the technology that can give you an edge by improving efficiency and productivity. It ensures a cost-effective operating model without compromising employee and customer satisfaction.