Ending the supply chain nightmare: How intelligent document processing helps procurement teams sleep at night

May 13, 2022 by Automation Hero

Supply chain professionals have been burning out since 2020. Intelligent process automation can make life easier.

Supply chain teams have always operated under stressful conditions, but the crisis of the pandemic has taken an especially heavy toll — one many companies won’t recover from unless they address it directly. In 2021, the Harvard Business Review announced we were entering a new era of mental health awareness in the workplace, highlighting the importance of employers making structural changes to help employees maintain their wellbeing. Employer-provided counseling, mental health days, and other resources are going to become increasingly normalized, but we need to look at other ways to mitigate the ever-growing pressure for more productivity. In this new era, companies need to be sure their employees are working smarter, not just harder.

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We already know the impact intelligent document processing can have on efficiency but we don’t pay enough attention to its benefits for workers. In jobs that demand increasingly higher levels of output, managing repetitive, mundane tasks on top of high-level performance pressure can produce unnecessary stress and eventual burnout. Letting AI handle some of the manual labor that goes into office work can go a long way to break this cycle.

The limits of ERP systems

Much of the supply chain is managed with advanced enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like Oracle and SAP, and over the years, this technology has enabled massive breakthroughs in productivity and efficiency. Unfortunately, these systems still leave gaps in automated workflows, even though they demand a lot of resources to manage and implement. Their high costs also make them unattainable for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Aside from demand, the biggest cause of stress for procurement and freight forwarding teams over the past few years has been the constant search for alternative suppliers and shipping routes as constraints pile up across the globe. Large ERP systems are amazing for creating and managing stable supply chain environments, but their inflexibility makes remapping workflows incredibly difficult, and it takes a lot of manpower to implement change. They also have limited document processing capabilities, which still leaves workers with a lot of paperwork to manage.

Intelligent document processing: The hero procurement and freight forward teams need

Intelligent document processing allows organizations to create complete end-to-end automation workflows across their entire enterprise with the power of advanced artificial intelligence. Automation Hero is a new AI platform built from the ground up to help users streamline mundane document processing, scale up to full enterprise automation, or just improve any process in between. How does this help procurement or freight forwarding teams?

Data extraction

With the supply chain moving at breakneck speeds, anything freight forwarding teams do to shave minutes from a process translates to massive time savings. Automation Hero’s advanced data extraction optical character recognition (OCR) can virtually eliminate the need for manual document review and data entry by extracting data from common documents like contracts, BOLs, and RFIs, as well as emails, forms, and any channel where communication occurs.

Supply chain visibility

Workflow automation needs data to function as intended. Paper documents are still incredibly common in supply chains — especially “in the field” on factory floors, warehouses, and border checkpoints. Using paper also creates bottlenecks and data blind spots throughout the supply chain. As long as workers scan and upload these documents in a timely manner, Automation Hero can extract their data and eliminate the blindspots, without procurement teams within organizations having to revamp all their processes.

Workflow insight and flexibility

Effective supply chain management is most akin to what software developers call exception handling, where programs have to respond to special conditions and process them accordingly. In today’s supply chain chaos, procurement and logistics teams are constantly forced to find new suppliers and make changes to routes. ERPs are simply not built for this.

Automation Hero, on the other hand, empowers a single worker to extract historical data from their systems and have the AI analyze it to quickly find alternative solutions to a problem. From there, users can update and redeploy workflows in a fraction of the time and resources it would take with an ERP. This helps small- and medium-sized companies operate with as much power as a large enterprise, without the need for as much manpower.

Intelligent process automation for a stronger supply chain

The supply chain has been a nightmare for the past two years, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end any time soon. Really taking care of mental health will require more than counseling and other support resources. Managers need to alleviate as much of the conditions creating information overload and decision fatigue as possible. Intelligent document processing platforms, like Automation Hero, are just what the doctor ordered to help supply chain professionals sleep easier at night and navigate the new normal. Learn how we can help you manage supply chain chaos in our new e-book.

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Learn how we helped Markerstudy reduce its claims processing time by 40%. Additionally, learn how we reduced total claim processing time by 80% for another multinational insurance partner — cutting down manual tasks from 10 minutes to just two minutes per claim.