Increased need for productivity in the supply chain is creating pressure for business leaders to continuously seek next-generation solutions to help them do more with less. There has been an emphasis on achieving a lean supply chain through implementing practices that streamline workflow, reduce costs, and other processes that do not add business value. The lean supply chain is often thought of as most applicable to manufacturers that focus on inventory management and warehousing systems. Distributors can take advantage too. Solutions such as document process automation can be effective and ‘lean’ tools for eliminating waste and activities that do not drive business value. Key decision makers are already considering digitizing operations. 80% of respondents in a recent Deloitte survey believed that the digital supply chain will be the predominant model within the next five years.

Time is of essence – fast O2C cycle

Document automation is a simple and effective solution that transfers purchase order data into an ERP system without human error. This means orders can be processed any time of day, increasing overall efficiency and speed. Ultimately, it speeds up the order-to-cash (O2C) cycle, improving the bottom line and eliminates unnecessary time wasted on repetitive data entry.

Take customer service to the next level

When CSRs are freed from tedious and error prone data and order processing roles, they can be deployed for value-generating tasks. A lean supply chain is about reducing waste and increasing productivity. Turning manual order processing over to machines allows CSRs to focus on knowledge based services that can increase customer satisfaction and build customer relationships. Happy customers equals more business and allow companies to use this as a competitive edge.

Data-enabled inventory management

A lean supply chain often alludes to having small inventory that require minimal warehousing space. While there are multiple ways to achieve an efficient inventory control system, a simple solution lies in sales data. Data generated from purchase orders can provide actionable insight such as buying trends and customer order volume. Mapping buying patterns, decisions makers can predict the type and quantity of products that customers will likely purchase in the future, helping them better manage warehouse space.

Putting it all together

Order processing inefficiencies can quickly derail efforts to streamline overall performance. Evaluating current processing procedures with the intent to optimize workflow, reduce unnecessary costs and eliminate non-value added activities is critical for distributors. However, organizations must also focus on understanding what exactly a customer needs to promote customer satisfaction and repeat purchase with the least effort and strain on company resources. Improving coordination, eliminating redundancy and building quality into every interaction allow businesses to progress towards a leaner future and create new opportunities for growth.