Higher quality, quicker delivery, faster resolution, and personalized service are now the cornerstones of a modern-day customer experience. For manufacturers and distributors, this translates into increased pressures to ensure paramount efficacy while maintaining high productivity levels. In a bid to effectively optimize these processes, scores of manufacturers and distributors have turned to automation as a vital solution.
However, before we assess the role of automation in aiding the manufacturing and distribution industry to achieve higher efficiencies, there is merit in understanding the intricate nuances that govern the industry.
Key Characteristics of the Manufacturing and Distribution Industries
There are four key characteristics of the manufacturing and distribution industry:
Intricate supply chain management
Interdependence among multiple stakeholders
Several disparate IT systems
Complex inventory management decisions
50% of manufacturing companies still use manual processes for monitoring changes, exceptions, and disruptions to their supply chain and plan activity.
The manufacturing and distribution industry has long depended on manual processes to tackle all the foundational obstacles posed by the four critical elements. From data entry to communications, document handling, and employee and customer management – all critical processes are managed by a maze of several interconnected and interdependent manual processes.
The reliance on manual processes is deeply entrenched across all functions, which adversely impacts the ability to deliver high-quality services and ensure profitability in the process.
The Automation Solution to Alleviate Challenges Posed by Manual Processes
Not only do manufacturers face profitability pressures due to the high costs stemming from manual processes, but they are also troubled by inaccurate processing, delayed processing cycles, poor customer experience, and lack of process visibility.
Be it the handling of documents, extraction of vital information, management of prompt communication between stakeholders, approval management, or exception handling, automation possesses the ability to optimize all manual and repetitive processes that would have otherwise taken a substantial portion of employees’ productive time.
Automating manual processes, such as sales-order and invoice processing, can help achieve unimaginable advantages for manufacturers and distributors. With automation at the helm, processes are completed accurately and on time, resulting in significant cost savings and improved all-round experience for all stakeholders involved. Be it the handling of documents, extraction of vital information, management of prompt communication between stakeholders, approval management, or exception handling, automation possesses the ability to optimize all manual and repetitive processes that would have otherwise taken a substantial portion of employees’ productive time.
Sales Order Processing
The manual sales order process is highly prone to several disruptions that can occur, from unique customer requirements, manual handoffs, input errors, varying order channels (email, phone, online, etc.), no integration with existing internal systems, and a lack of visibility into the end-to-end process.
80% of manually handled orders require human intervention to fix errors/disruptions.
Sales Order Automation holds the potential to effectively transform the process and relieve CSRs of the mundane, repetitive tasks that keep them away from their core job responsibilities of closing sales, fulfilling orders, and servicing customers.
Another critical process that manufacturers and distributors must evaluate to achieve higher operational efficiencies is Invoice Processing.
A manual process of handling invoices invariably forces the Accounts Payable (AP) team to engage in a series of intricate steps: data capture, extraction, invoice authorization, data integration and transfer, reconciliation of accounts, invoice matching, and payment processing.
~40% of enterprises observe quicker approval for invoices under an automated process.
Through automation, the complicated process of Invoice Processing can be substantially enhanced. The benefits of automated Invoice Processing are not limited to the operational outcomes of improved accuracy rate, faster processing cycles, and cost reductions.
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