Automation has become an essential instrument for businesses wanting to increase efficiency and optimize their operations in our increasingly digital world. Robotic process automation (RPA)—the use of software robots to automate business processes—is one such tool that can be particularly advantageous in the field of procurement management.
By automating routine tasks and data aggregation, RPA can help procurement staff focus on higher-value work and enable decision-making based on data-driven insights. In fact, organizations across industries have already leveraged RPA to achieve productivity gains.
However, it is important to note that RPA must be applied thoughtfully and to the right processes in order to be effective. For example, automating invoice processing can help free up staff time and improve accuracy, but other tasks—such as contract negotiations—are better suited for human interaction.
By understanding how RPA can be used to support various procurement activities, organizations can make informed decisions about where to deploy this tool and how best to use it. With the right application of RPA, your organization can realize significant productivity gains in procurement—gains that will help you drive better business outcomes.
What is Procurement Management?
Procurement management is the process of acquiring goods and services to meet an organization’s needs. Procurement managers are responsible for finding vendors, negotiating contracts, and managing relationships with suppliers. The procurement process often involves multiple steps, from identifying a need to issuing a purchase order and receiving the goods or services.
Procurement management has a significant impact on an organization’s bottom line and strategic business operations because it is necessary for many organizations in all industries to manage external supplier connections in order to ensure that these required items are acquired at the best price. For these reasons, procurement administration has a direct influence on an organization’s bottom line and key business activities.
What is The Importance of Procurement Management?
Procurement management is an integral component of a company’s business operations. The procurement process is in charge of obtaining the required items and services to keep the company running. This procedure starts with identifying a need and proceeding to write a purchase order, receiving the goods or services, and paying for them.
Procurement management is the lifeblood of a company. It is what keeps the company running by supplying it with the necessary materials and services. In order to be successful, procurement management must be efficient and effective.
An efficient procurement process minimizes waste and ensures that the right items are acquired at the best price. For these reasons, procurement administration has a direct influence on an organization’s bottom line and key business activities.
What is Robotics Process Automation?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a technology that automates manual tasks. RPA tools can mimic human actions to interact with digital systems, such as websites or applications. RPA is used to automate repetitive, rules-based tasks that are otherwise performed by humans.
How Can Robotics Process Automation Benefit Procurement?
Robotic process automation (RPA) can help organizations automate repetitive tasks in procurement such as invoice processing, requisition approvals, contract creation, and purchase order issuance. RPA can also be used to gather data from multiple sources to create a single view of the vendor landscape.
Organizations can use RPA to improve compliance with procurement policies and procedures. RPA can help ensure that only authorized individuals have access to procurements systems and that all purchase requisitions are approved by the correct level of management.
RPA can also help reduce the time it takes to process invoices and make payments to vendors. This can free up staff resources so they can focus on more strategic tasks such as vendor relationship management.
RPA in Procurement Use Cases
When considering RPA in procurement, it’s important to first identify which processes would benefit most from automation. APQC’s Open Standards Benchmarking data shows that the following activities are commonly automated in procurement organizations:
RPA-enabled procurement typically includes tasks such as opening and sorting invoices, matching them to purchase orders, and checking for duplicate invoices. This can offload a significant amount of work from employees and free them up to focus on other tasks.
Procurement staff often spend a considerable amount of time manually entering data into multiple systems. RPA can automate this task by extracting data from various sources and inputting it into the appropriate system.
Another common use case for RPA in procurement is generating reports. RPA can pull data from multiple sources, compile it into a report, and send it to the appropriate stakeholders on a regular basis.
Purchase Order Management
Purchase Order (PO) management is another area where RPA can be beneficial. RPA can automate the process of creating POs, issuing them to suppliers, and tracking the delivery.
Contract management is another process that can be automated with RPA. RPA can help organizations keep track of contract expiration dates, automatically renew contracts, and flag key terms and conditions.
Supplier Onboarding and Performance Management
Supplier onboarding and performance management are two more processes that can be automated with RPA. RPA can help organizations automate the process of onboarding new suppliers, as well as monitor supplier performance against KPIs.
RPA can offer a number of benefits to procurement departments. By automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, RPA can help procurement staff focus on more value-added work. When considering implementing RPA in procurement, it’s important to select the right use cases and ensure that the technology is deployed thoughtfully.
The Bottom Line
RPA can help procurement professionals work more efficiently and productively in core procurement processes when done correctly. RPA also frees the procurement team from time-consuming, repetitive activities, allowing them to focus on more value-added responsibilities that only humans may accomplish, such as supplier relationship management or strategic planning.
RPA is only as good as the data it receives, and it isn’t always the best solution. Using RPA in a planned and deliberate manner can help ensure that automation gains are meaningful and that the technology solves issues rather than creating them.