Harnessing the power of technology is no longer an option but a required strategy, especially in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. One technological marvel that has revolutionized the procurement sector is robotic process automation (RPA).
This guide centers on the dynamic world of RPA in procurement, shedding light on its transformative potential, real-world applications, and the myriad benefits it brings to the table.
Let’s get the ball rolling!
Overview of RPA in Procurement
RPA, or Robotic Process Automation, is an advanced technology using software robots or “bots” to automate repetitive and rule-based tasks within business processes. These bots will mimic human interactions with digital systems, allowing them to navigate various applications, gather data, and perform tasks.
In essence, RPA’s use in the procurement process represents a powerful tool to optimize operations, saving time and resources. It also empowers each procurement team to focus on more strategic tasks. RPA ultimately leads to improved efficiency, supplier relationship management, and overall performance in the procurement sector.
RPA is gradually revolutionizing industries, including procurement strategy. The technology greatly streamlines operations, increases efficiency, and reduces manual errors. The following numbers show the influence of RPA on your procurement team.
- Around 80% of finance leaders have implemented or are planning to implement RPA.
- 98% of IT leaders say automating business processes is vital to driving business benefits.
- Top performers earned nearly 4X on their RPA investments, while other enterprises earned nearly double.
- The potential economic impact of knowledge work automation is expected to be $5-7 trillion by 2025.
Use Cases of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Procurement
#1 Purchase Request to Purchase Order
Previously, the procurement team had to process purchase requisitions and create orders manually. This procedure usually led to delays and errors in the fulfillment of bulk orders.
Managing procurement has never been easier, thanks to the birth of RPA. Software robots can automatically perform steps in your procurement process once you receive a purchase request. The software automatically follows through on requisition evaluation, review, and order processing workflows when a purchase requisition comes in.
As software robots simplify procedures, your business can handle more purchase requests, increasing profits. Moreover, robotic process automation can also assist the procurement team in managing their procurement tasks better.
#2 Inventory Management
Inventory management is at the core of every business. Companies must always ensure enough inventory levels to meet customer demand.
That’s when RPA came along; RPA and IoT integration enabled digital monitoring of inventory levels. RPA helps monitor inventory levels and notify when they are too low, or there is too much inventory to manage. Then, your companies can order products early or make reasonable adjustments.
What’s more, bots are in-charge of real-time reports to update inventory levels at any time. This is an essential contribution to evaluating the present needs and the projection of future ones.
#3 Work Order Management
Employees find it challenging to keep track of customer requests, particularly with overstocked orders. This status often results in unfulfilled work orders and lost revenue.
Utilizing software robots makes the procurement process more manageable, thereby preventing potential losses.
For instance, after receiving a purchase requisition, RPA will swiftly convert it into a work order, assign tasks to relevant teams, and monitor the progress. Once completed, the work order is closed by a bot, and the customer is notified of their order status. This streamlines the entire workflow, reduces manual interventions, category management, and ensures timely task completion.
#4 Demand and Supply Planning
RPA is employed to manage demand and supply planning from beginning to end. It eliminates organizational barriers between several departments by coordinating procurement, shipping, storage, and inventory as a single, centralized team.
Robotic process automation is extremely helpful when it comes to handling tasks at the individual job level. The program promptly notifies the procurement department if it detects an overstocked inventory in the warehouse. This information enables the purchasing team to understand the current situation better.
What role does intelligent automation play in the digital shopping sector?
It goes beyond traditional robotic process automation (RPA) by integrating human inputs into algorithms, thereby streamlining operations. Additionally, algorithms empower Artificial Intelligence automated systems to learn and make informed decisions while also seeking human confirmation to ensure everything functions as intended.
#5 Invoice Processing
Manual invoice processing is often time-consuming, prone to errors, and can lead to bottlenecks in the financial workflow.
Fortunately, Robotic Process Automation can transform your invoice process by automating the entire invoice cycle, from data extraction and validation to approval and payment initiation.
Upon receipt of invoices, RPA can perform various tasks to streamline the invoicing process. It can extract relevant data, validate it against purchase orders, match it with goods receipt data, and finally route the invoices for approval. This automated process speeds up the invoicing cycle, minimizes errors, and ensures compliance with payment terms.
Manual invoice processing involves at least 15 steps before posting an invoice. But now, thanks to RPA, the cycle has been optimized to only 5 steps:
- Data extraction
- Validation and matching
- Coding and routing
- Approval workflow
- Integration with ERP systems
#6 Contract Management
RPA can manage the contract lifecycle by automating contract creation, review, and renewal.
- Automatic composition of B2B contracts through extracting and incorporating vendor details into the initial draft.
- Issuing notifications to procurement staff as contract expiration dates approach.
- Methodically archiving each contract within the respective database allocated to individual vendors.
- Employing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to review contracts, verifying adherence of Service Level Agreement (SLA) terms to company policies.
Benefits of RPA in Procurement
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offers massive benefits when applied to procurement function.
- Improve efficiency: RPA significantly boosts efficiency by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as data entry, document processing, and order tracking. It frees up valuable human resources by taking over these tasks, allowing the procurement department to concentrate on more critical responsibilities that require human skills. The outcome is twofold: work is completed faster, and the quality of work improves as well.
- Reduce errors: RPA’s accuracy in data processing and validation minimizes mistakes, leading to reliable procurement operations and better data quality.
- Save cost: By automating tasks, RPA effectively reduces the reliance on extensive manpower and minimizes the need for manual interventions. This, in turn, translates to cost savings, improved resource allocation, and higher ROI for procurement activities.
- Offer data-driven insights: RPA generates valuable data as it interacts with systems. This data will be analyzed to uncover trends, supplier performance, and spending patterns, aiding in more informed decision-making and strategic planning.
- Speed up procurement cycles: RPA makes creating orders, getting approvals, and setting up suppliers happen much faster. This means you can get what you need without waiting forever.
- Scalability: RPA can be big or small, just like your organization. This scalability allows organizations to adjust and expand their automation efforts as their procurement demands evolve.
- Enhance accuracy in reporting: RPA generates easy-to-understand reports which provide clear visibility into the purchase request status, buying activities, and spending. The reports enable everyone involved to stay informed about ongoing procurement functions.
Challenges of RPA in Procurement
Procurement RPA implementation can face barriers that impede the smooth running of the business. One obstacle lies in the data disparity. Many vendors send invoices in different formats, confusing RPA. This inconsistency hinders automation, leading to errors and delayed payments. And obviously, cash flow and supplier relationships will be disrupted easily.
Nowadays, network security has emerged as a pressing concern. RPA, while requiring access to customer or business data, introduces complexities in ensuring the security of bots. Unfortunately, vulnerabilities in RPA systems can make them susceptible to theft and unauthorized access. Such breaches can have severe consequences, including compromised supplier information or payment diversion, which in turn can jeopardize the financial stability and reputation of the business.
Is the cost of investing in RPA a barrier? The answer is “yes.” Automation requires a constant investment of time and large sums of money to keep up to date with technology which is a fast-changing thing. This can make the transition quite difficult for some small and medium businesses.
Finally, the complexity of the procurement process can be a significant obstacle. Procurement involves multifaceted decisions that the procurement team has the advantage of deciding and navigating flexibly. RPA struggles with nuanced choices, hindering adaptability. When faced with vendor negotiations, RPA lacks the agility to understand context and history, which can cause some unfortunate problems.
Are you ready to revolutionize your procurement processes into a new era? As you embark on your journey towards harnessing the power of RPA in procurement, remember that innovation knows no bounds.
Explore Neurond’s cutting-edge RPA solutions today, and you’ll see a dramatic change in your business. Neurond’s team of experts will guide you through each implementation step, ensuring seamless integration that maximizes your return on investment.
Let’s redefine procurement together – embrace the future and take your business to the highest level.
If you’re still curious about RPA or how it’s compared to machine learning, check out our recent post about the differences between Robotic process automation vs. Machine Learning.