Luckily, in this era, no one has to or rather should be leaving the growth and success of their business in human hands alone. One must leverage technological advancements in order to gain a competitive edge and to be able to sustain in the market place in the end. What a business needs is something that it can handle menial tasks efficiently so that it will be easy for the rest of the employees in an organization to concentrate on the core business activities. Artificial Intelligence is the answer to streamlining workflow and ensuring the growth of your business. It helps in adding value to a business by automating redundant tasks.

What is RPA?

One such technological application that works on AI and machine learning software is the Robotic Process Automation. It allows organizations to automate tasks just as a human being was doing them across applications and systems. The main aim of Robotics Process Automation process is to replace repetitive and monotonous clerical task performed by humans, with a virtual workforce. RPA does not need code development, nor does it need direct access to the code or database of the applications. It consists of software robots (bots) that can imitate a human worker. The bots can log into applications, enter data, calculate and complete tasks and then log out. Software bots depend on machine learning and artificial intelligence to understand the context and automate processes efficiently. RPA also takes advantage of natural language processing (NLP) for better human interaction.

RPA software is not a segment of an organization’s IT infrastructure. Alternatively, it is present on top of it, permitting a company to execute the technology quickly and efficiently all without changing the existing infrastructure and system applications. What differentiates RPA from traditional IT automation is the ability of the RPA software to be aware and adapt to altering circumstances, exceptions and new situations.

A study by a global technology research firm, Information Services Group, reported on by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply suggested that, in the forthcoming years, a majority of Multinational Companies will shift towards using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to cut down costs, reduce transaction times, increase productivity, and improve levels of compliance and efficiency.  The ISG study reveals that adopting automation technology will lead to a 43% reduction in resources needed for order-to-cash processes, 34% for invoicing, and 32% for vendor and talent management. Those are huge gains for any company, but especially for those concerned with effective management of their complex supply chains. Over the years, business organizations have invested millions of dollars in developing their supply chain processes and infrastructure, but what if you could boost your enterprise’s overall supply chain process and cut costs, all without having to make a major IT investment or hire new staff? The rapidly enhancing advanced technology of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) promises this outcome – and more.

Benefits of RPA in Supply Chain Business Process Management

Order Processing and Payments

The order processing part of the supply chain includes various entities such as manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Raising, responding to and processing purchase orders in a significant administrative overhead for these entities. The enterprises that depend on paperwork and manual labor for processing these transactions face inaccuracy and extensive time consumption. To make a supply chain smooth and effective, it is important to incorporate error-free tasks in the order-to-cash cycle. RPA in the supply chain can automate these back-office tasks and reduce the requirement of manual labor.

Efficient Vendor Selections

Vendor selection is one of the most significant and time-consuming operations in Supply Chain Management as it includes several manual processes like request preparation, communication with vendors, vendor’s document verification, vendor credits evaluation, vendor finalization. With the help of robotic process automation, autonomous bots can evaluate credit value and even confirm the vendor selection in accordance with predefined criteria.

Inventory Management Automation

Inventory Management is one of the most crucial functions of an organization’s supply chain network. One should be aware of their inventory levels to make sure there are enough products as well as spares to meet the business demands. Implementing RPA in supply chain management will not only automate the inventory management process but also assist in notifying about the stock levels. In the best case, bots can reorder the products that go below a threshold level. Apart from that, supply chain automation can consider historical data and predict the optimal inventory levels in order to avoid stock-outs.

Transportation & Logistics Management

Logistics is a core part of SCM – it prepares, executes and manages the flow of information as well as storage of products and services to meet customer’s needs. In logistics, the scheduling & tracking of shipments, demand many manual labors to work with multiple labels, websites, applications, etc. The process involves several documents like bill of lading, invoices, and proof-of-delivery. RPA can automate such tasks and ensure real-time accurate tracking of shipments that further aids planning and leads to a reduction in lead-time.

Supply and Demand Planning

Planning is one of the most important components of the management of any supply chain, especially concerning predicting future requirements of supply and demand. Before automation, such planning was not an easy task: Employees had to seek out and collect the necessary data–from different entities like vendors, customers, market intelligence, as well as the production and sales teams–, combine the collected data into a standardised format, analyse and interpret the data, and confirm and communicate the plan to the team.

RPA can ease this entire process by automating the majority of these responsibilities: gathering and merging the necessary information from various sources, running data cleansing tools, as well as transforming the final data into a plan and providing the necessary communication to the various stakeholders involved.

Thus, with RPA, supply chains meet enhanced cycle time and agility, increased capacity and asset efficiency, improved receivables, reduced lead-time as well as high levels of the supplier, customer, and employee satisfaction. New issues may arise in the service delivery process, and entire operations may be re-engineered, all for better productivity and efficiency at the end of the day.

Trends 2020 RPA supply chain and logistics white paper

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