One of the primary focus for all the procurement heads is to save more time in procurement process, which has resulted in digitization of the procurement process.
I ask you, is simply digitizing the procurement process the only solution? I don’t think so. Because even after digitalizing, the procurement heads complain that the team spends more time on the non-strategic activities rather than focusing on more growth enhancement. Imagine, how would your supplier react if he was told that he can quote in the same manner using emails & excel attachment as he did earlier? What if there is no need for supplier go through any training for a new platform? What if he was told that there is no need for him to remember another user id & password to the platform?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) promises to provide the suitable solution for the non-strategic tasks and help to achieve the growth enhancing activity timelines. For a complex procurement platform, RPA can be integrated in the platform for performing small activities and thereby giving the buyers a way to get familiar with the application in a better way. So, the beauty of RPA is that the changes can be implemented gradually.
Most of the suppliers are comfortable submitting bids in excel format and through email. RPA can be used to retrieve the bids and from the mail along with attachments in a folder and automatically submit the bid in the application and suppliers will get alert for the bid submission. The same process without RPA would take the time of the supplier to submit as well as save time for the buyer to manually download the attachments in a folder and save around 15 mins a day.
RPA can also be used to get the purchase data for current and previous transactions and prepare a demand forecast or supplier performance. The setup may take a few days but once done, it can be implemented for other commodities and services. Also, the data can be used or integrated for the reverse auction.
RPA can be implemented not only for the buyer but also for the supplier. For example, if RPA chat bot is implemented, it will reduce the manual intervention of the help desk support. It will also reduce the time for the supplier to get a reply regarding the processes in a few clicks. RPA chat bot is robotic process where the system is fed with data for answering the queries of the suppliers reducing the call to Helpdesk team or support team.
While we all agree that RPA is really effective, somehow in the procurement world it is still at a very nascent stage and there is a long way to go before the organizations can implement it easily. The benefits of cost reduction, resource utilization, strategy and efficient makes it more beneficial for an organization. Moreover, it also is a first step for the organizations who are reluctant and broadened the vision to implement AI, ML and IoT in their procurement process.
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