Leading supply chain managers know the implementation of digital improvement strategies is critical to success in the modern business landscape. However, most digital transformation strategies go beyond simple automation and straightforward technology upgrades, and require significant investment and organizational planning. A 2016 Global Industry Survey from PWC suggests that industrial product companies will invest $907 billion per year through 2020 on digital investments.
Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and wearable technology are the primary pillars of digital transformation. Enterprise-level projects require substantial investment and legacy platform upgrades in order to realize transformation goals, thus increasing difficulty for some businesses that are not prepared for extensive changes. There are simpler and more cost-efficient digital transformations that also deliver efficiency gains such as optimized workflow and improved customer experience.
Document processing is one of the most time-consuming and labor-intensive tasks in the supply chain. It requires manual entry and provides virtually no additional return beyond the initial sale. Automating this process can deliver a multitude of benefits for businesses.
Document automation is an entirely cloud-based solution that tackles the time wasted from manual processing while requiring no servers, software installation, or maintenance. In addition to being easy to deploy and cost effective to implement, document automation can process different types of supply chain documents 24 hours a day, and is not impacted by traditional business hours. It also offers a seamless transition for customers, requiring no revisions to existing business processes.
Many types of documents that the majority of businesses manually process can be automated, including purchase orders, quote requests, and invoices. Manual data entry is one of the biggest bottlenecks for many organizations. It is error prone and time consuming and affects productivity and customer satisfaction. Automation of these processes can dramatically reduce errors and speed up workflow, meaning increased efficiency and ROI. The following are some examples:
Automating incoming POs not only speeds up order-to-cash cycles, but also increases data accuracy. With more time on their hands, customer service reps can focus on value-adding tasks such as improving customer relationships.
Quote automation accelerates the response time of bids and quotes to minutes, with 100-percent accuracy. With the ability to process requests for quotes no matter the time of day, companies gain a competitive advantage by responding to bids around the clock.
Removing the need for manual data entry for bill of lading and materials handling invoices not only speeds up the documentation process but also substantially reduces room for error.
Automating contract management can streamline workflow for key processes including pricing agreements, task management, digital signature capabilities, automated alerts, and record management. When custom pricing is involved, automation eliminates errors and decreases the number of line item rejections and discrepancy claims that are more likely to happen when keyed in manually.
Automatically converting faxed and emailed incoming AP invoices into payable postings, eliminates potential errors associated with data entry. With automation, companies can capitalize on early payment discounts, and prevent duplicate payments. It also allows AP staff to focus on other important tasks like addressing supplier requests.
Supply chain executives need not consider digital transformation as a large-scale undertaking with an expensive and complex integration process. Applying simple-to-implement and more accessible process transformations like document automation can greatly improve productivity and elevate the customer experience.
Earl van As is Vice President of Marketing & Product Management of ecmarket, cloud solutions developer of the patent-pending Conexiom sales order and invoice automation solution. Conexiom allows manufacturers and distributors to focus on serving customers and managing supplier relationships instead of entering data. For more information, visit conexiom.com.