Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is poised to become the game changer in complex global supply chain management systems. Experts suggest that RPA can offer a substantial ROI within the very first year itself. If you are still sitting on the fence about robotic automation, here are some factors that will help you make an informed decision. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) then and now

Robotic Process AutomationEarlier, RPA automation was given the cold shoulder because it lacked the agility required to handle the skill-based and customized interactions of complex supply chains. Now, two key advances make RPA particularly attractive in supply chain management.  

  • RPA now can make judgements based on data patterns. Within supply chain management, for example, you could have automated delivery delay escalation, automation of supply/demand balancing and vendor selection, as well as simpler processes like customer service bot interaction 
  • With the help of well-defined rules and instructions, RPA can now incorporate cognitive process automation, intelligent computer vision, and intelligent Optical Character Recognition to allow automation beyond just simple tasks. 

RPA and supply chains

Robotic Automation could well end up being your employee’s new BFF at work. Why? Because it can free them from many dull tasks like capturing, replicating, and processing data, allowing them to focus on crucial tasks and decision making. Here are some real-life case studies which highlight the impact of RPA in supply chain management.

RPA helps you connect

RPAUsually, just the thought of sending out boilerplate shipment status communications is yawn inducing, but a necessary step in supply chain management.  RPA can automate the response – opening the email system, logging into the shipping portal, determining the shipment status, replying to the customer — with human intervention only required for exceptions.

RPA helps you select

RPA helps you selectLarge-scale manufacturing organizations that work with vendors usually have a manual process that involves employees preparing an RFQ (Request for Quotation) package, analysing vendor documents, running a vendor credit check, and selecting the vendor. With RPA, human intervention is directed towards the preliminary work in specifying the project for sourcing, generating a list of potential vendors, and engaging in face-to-face site visits and negotiations.

RPA helps you with inventory and analysis 

Inventory control is at the very heart of supply chain management. RPA software robots can monitor the inventory and reorder products as needed. Inventory levels can be optimized, based on records and RPA can also modify levels based current trends in demand.    

And along with inventory control, RPA automation is set to make an even more powerful contribution to supply chains: analytics. Robotic Automation can gather information about business patterns to reveal potential disruptions and bottlenecks. These insights can be used to optimize specific areas of the supply chain. 

Robotic Process Automation helps you plan

Planning is a crucial component of the management of any supply chain – think of RPA as the one planning assistant you always dreamed of. RPA can automate gathering data from various sources, as well as transforming the final data into a plan and providing the necessary communication to partners, customers, transporters, and logistics teams. Human intervention is required only in handling robot exceptions, running simulations, and in meetings to achieve plan consensus.  

Maximize outcomes with a governance team

RPA GoveranceWith RPA, supply chains benefit from improved agility, better capacity and asset efficiency, as well as increased supplier, customer, and employee satisfaction. But it’s also important to know that this is not merely a matter of plugging in software once and then forgetting about it. To maximize outcomes, companies should continuously plan, and monitor goals, processes, impacts and results with their solution providers to leverage automation at scale.  Companies could also think about setting up an RPA governance team or a steering committee and think carefully through the process. Use Robotic Process Automation wisely to lead digital transformation within your supply chain management and help your organization gain a competitive advantage.