AUTOMATION

Corporate Purchase Order Automation – Best Practices

Corporate Purchase Order Automation – Best Practices 1920 1280 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Chemical company purchasing focuses on boosting profits through a simple chain of obtaining required materials and services. In today’s rapidly moving digital world, purchasing requires a comprehensive strategy that can adapt rapidly changing conditions.

Is your company still using manual archaic systems to manage purchase orders? An antiquated purchasing process can easily lead to mismanagement and simple user errors, reducing your profits.

Times, however, have changed. Using a technology-driven approach that automates the entire supply chain and includes real-time supplier collaboration saves time and money. These systems increase efficiency while boosting profitability.

Figure: 1 Integrating the Purchase Order Process

Integrating the Purchase Order Process

Companies using software tools lacking a common design and style, especially those made 3rd-parties, are looking to cause data errors. Having a common suite of tools for daily use that can share information goes a long way to reduce errors and improve efficiency.

For example, connected business solutions from Microsoft help streamline internal processes. They automate repetitive tasks so your people don’t have to.

43%

of companies agreed that there are loopholes in their PO practices.

64%

of organizations reported having plans for addressing purchase order management inefficiencies in the near future.

Source : A survey of Finance Personnel, 2017

Figure: 2 The Purchase Order Lifecycle

The Purchase Order Lifecycle

Procurement and the Purchase Order Life Cycle

Buying raw materials and finished components starts with negotiating terms and then acquiring goods or services from approved vendors. It also requires establishing payment terms and evaluating suppliers based on past transactions. Other steps are sending purchase orders, receiving purchased goods and processing invoices and payments.

The purchase order lifecycle has six core steps:

1.Vendor Selection: After receiving supplier quotations, buyers shortlist the ones meeting company requirements and budgets. While that happens, the procurement team verifies the supplier’s integrity, taking stakeholder input to reach a unified decision on which suppliers to use.

2.Negotiation and PO Dispatch: Buyers and suppliers negotiate the delivery timeline, set on time in full (OTIF) key performance indicators (KPI), establish a payment process, agree on quality standards, dispute resolutions, confidentiality, risks, change in requirements and other details. Suppliers and buyers sign purchase contracts, locking in the price and other terms.

3.Purchase Order Creation: Once the procurement team receives approval on purchase requests, it creates a purchase order containing product details, pricing, delivery terms, freight methods and other details. When dealing with multiple line items, some buyers’ systems may create purchase orders for each item.

4.Receiving goods and quality checks: Vendors send shipments according to the buyer’s instructions and terms in the PO. After receiving the supplier’s shipment, the buyer conducts a standard quality check, confirming it matches the PO’s requirements and packing slip. The receiving clerk verifies the item count is correct and conducts a surface level check for damages, noting any errors or damage. When the shipper and receiver numbers and quality levels do not match, relevant parties are provided details on what was found. After disputes are resolved, the receiver records the receiving information into the inventory management system.

5.Processing invoice payments: The supplier invoices the company, which routes it to the Accounts Payable(AP) Department. An AP clerk inputs the invoice, verifies details and charges against the PO and posts the PO or invoice. The transaction creates an open invoice against the supplier in the system. The open invoice now appears on an aging report.

6.Processing the payment for the purchase: As the invoice due date approaches, an AP clerk prepares a payment proposal that follows a standardized company workflow. Approval typically depends on the invoice amounts with higher figures requiring higher-level executive approvals. After getting approval, another AP clerk prints checks or sends electronic payments before posting the payment and clearing the open invoice.

What do these steps tell modern businesses? Each overly-simplified step shows that being detail oriented is a primary requirement. Anything that reduces human error and improves the overall accuracy of the purchase-to-pay lifecycle must be considered.

Small companies may skip the PO process, relying on strong relationships with only a few vendors. When verbal deals break down into a battle of “he said, she said,” the result is often an unnecessary legal battle. Having an automated written process keeps everything documented, safeguarding your company from potential losses.

Underlying Reasons for a Purchase Order Failure

There are plenty of reasons, including human error or process failure, why a purchase order system can fail. Some of the reasons are:

  • Authorization limitations

    In most cases, only an authorized person should sign a purchase order, obligating the company to pay it. Situations may arise when the authorized agent doesn’t receive the PO or forgets to complete the sign-off. In such cases, Accounts Payable may refuse to accept the invoice.

  • Using wrong codes and supplier names

    The person assigned to complete the purchase may lack crucial details such as the full supplier name and business code. Incomplete or inaccurate forms wastes time and money.

  • Not completing all essential columns and boxes

    When handling POs manually, there are no system reminders to fill in every mandatory data field. Missing data in one field can have a domino effect on other areas.

  • Failing to use the preferred suppliers’ list

    In an automated PO management system, a preferred supplier list is given preference. It forces the buyer to stick to what is listed. Choosing suppliers outside the approved list requires providing an explanation to management, even when the altered decision benefits the company. Automated systems often have a trigger, requiring management approval before the PO progresses. Manual processes are challenged to monitor approved supplier checks.

  • Delivery Delays

    One of the apparent problems faced in manual Purchase order processing is enhanced visibility in delays of goods/ services delivery. Typically, a high volume of orders or errors results in the supply system slowing down or losing track of vendor shipments.

Automation as a Solution

While digitizing purchase orders requires a significant initial investment, it’s a long-term solution resulting in a tangible return on investment. The sooner a company upgrades to automated electronic invoicing solutions through enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, the faster it sees the benefits. Producing electronic POs in an older ERP removes paper but doesn’t end manual processes. Buyers still need to extract the PO from the ERP and email it to the supplier.

Having an automated PO system that easily fits your business requirements makes purchasing more efficient. It should have features such as automatic purchase order creation and approval routing. It should notify suppliers via email or through an alert triggered in an online supplier portal.

When your advanced ERP—like Microsoft Dynamics 365—has an online supplier portal, your vendors can receive purchase orders, make modifications, send order acknowledgments and generate accurate invoices.

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5 Steps to Creating an Automated PO System

There are five steps required to create an automated PO system:

  1. 1.Integrating the purchase order system with ERP
  2. 2.Creating an electronic PO requisition and approval process
  3. 3.Transmitting electronic purchase orders to suppliers
  4. 4.Providing suppliers with easy online access to view your POs, acknowledge orders, and send advance shipment notices (ASNs) instantly
  5. 5.Streamlining supplier transactions to help manage your purchase-to-pay process

Key Benefits of Automating Purchase Order Process

Chemical and pharmaceutical companies plus their suppliers gain several benefits from using an automated purchase order system. These benefits include:

Providing suppliers with 360-degree views of orders, invoices and payments

PO requisitions automatically route for approval

Increasing invoice accuracy and reducing duplicate data entry

Saving time and resources while making users more compliant

Minimizing inconsistencies and reducing opportunities for error

Streamlining the entire PO process, promoting faster speed and better efficiency

Enhancing productivity by managing multiple orders simultaneously

Reducing long-term expenses

Streamlining inventory management and improving decision-making capabilities

Figure 3 Upgrading to an Automated PO System

Improving Supplier Interactions with Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 works with Microsoft Office 365 to simplify and automate daily tasks, letting your procurement team focus on managing purchases.

For example: Your buyer receives an email from a supplier requesting additional details on a quote. The system recognizes the sender, enabling the buyer to easily pull up prospect cards within Outlook. From this dashboard, the buyer reviews the account that includes the supplier’s existing quotes, ongoing orders and purchase history. While the buyer manages the quote, supplier and product information auto-populate, helping him get it done faster.

Another example is while your buyer is sending a purchase requisition, a message is sent to their inbox from a potential supplier they recently interacted with at an event. The system recognizes the supplier’s email address is not in the supplier database, prompting the buyer to add it. Without leaving Outlook, the buyer creates a profile in Dynamics 365 Finance.

Both of these examples show how automation reduces time spent on administrative tasks, allowing your purchasing team to quickly respond to quotes and ultimately improving overall customer service.

As a business owner, imagine receiving an email from a high-priority customer needing an order delivered fairly quickly. Fulfilling that order depends on receiving materials from your suppliers. Without leaving your inbox, you can check inventory and discover that you don’t have enough stock on hand to fulfill the order. Your sales team can quickly send a PO directly to the Buyer with “approval to proceed.” In the same interface you create and send a purchase order to the vendor and a quote to your customer.

With Dynamics 365 and Office 365 working together, you can take quick action right from your email – allowing you to spend more time managing your business and connecting with customers.

Key Takeaways

Efficient purchase order automation increases the point of revenue, makes the operational process easier and reduces error rates.

The mature and robust functionality of an automated purchase order system ensures better functioning of the Purchasing department, with a cloud-based procurement solution offering greater transparency on purchase order management with even greater ease of access.

CONTACT US and get started with your Purchase Order automation process using Power package with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain!

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Customer Service Keys Benefits

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Customer Service: Keys Benefits

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Customer Service: Keys Benefits 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Customer support professionals face constant challenges trying to understand customer requirements while making connections on an emotional level.
  • Emotional connections with customers has become an extremely important requirement for companies looking to boost their bottom-line.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) for customer support coupled with machine learning (ML) helps analyze large volumes of customer data using tools like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and advanced voice recognition, to generate.

Introduction

Today’s customers want more affordable, convenient services that cater to their unique needs. Significantly more business is transacted seamlessly across both physical and digital channels. This is a result of increased trust in day-to-day technology which has led to increased sales, along with an easy way for customers to recommend products and services to other people, creating a whole new network of promoters. To take advantage of this change in behaviour, more companies are working harder than ever to deliver better services and provide great end-to-end customer experience.

67%

of customers are willing to switch brands looking for a better customer experience.

Source: Forbes

A lot of brands fail to create a positive emotional experience which directly impacts customer loyalty. This dissatisfaction results in customers switching between brands due to a poor customer experience.

Companies that excel in customer experience can uplift their revenues by 4%-8%.Source: Bain

Understanding this, more companies are beginning to come around to the benefits of investing in AI-automated technologies, with some choosing to focus on boosting their revenue, and others favoring customer experience over price and quality. This doesn’t ignore pricing, but let’s companies place more emphasis on the user experience. Additionally, most of these systems can be automated, further increasing the benefits.

80%

of the customer interactions will be handled by AI eliminating the presence of human agents by 20202

Source: A Gartner Study

Enhancing the customer experience with AI

In a digital world where every minute is important, it doesn’t make sense to have multiple virtual customer service agents set up to manage small issues. Using AI-based solutions to answer simple questions can help control costs to your company along with offering a host of additional benefits such as:

  • Providing faster issue resolution
  • Answering customer questions 24/7
  • Sorting and routing messages
  • Ability to transfer to live support as necessary
  • Freeing of asset availability to manage high value incidents

This is accomplished by analyzing large volumes of data much faster than a human. AI also uses high-level voice recognition to identify the voices of customers, understand the problem and provide the necessary responses. This all allows for faster prediction of market requirements with much higher accuracy.

Another tool born of AI, Natural Language Processing (NLP), analyses human language to understand context and determine outcomes seamlessly, and often undetected. NLP works in a union with voice recognition to ensure faster problem resolution for customers, reducing frustration. These solutions are deployed as bots and can even be set up to transfer to a human assistant in the event the system is unable to assist. This is important to remember as AI isn’t a replacement for human interaction, just a tool that facilitates an improved experience.

Using AI for enhancing customer experience helps organizations achieve a number of sought after benefits including minimizing pain points, and reducing the number of hours spent by customer agents on simple tasks. AI driven automation with advanced machine learning helps empower your support agents to do their job more efficiently, creating more opportunities for up-sell and cross-sell activities designed to increase sales.

In today’s Age of the Customer, personal, emotive customer interactions play a critical role in bridging the gap for what disruption and digital innovation alone cannot solve. For brands to compete – and win – in CX in 2018 and beyond, service leaders must ensure their teams optimize processes and communication in ways that create positive emotional experiences for customers.

Dennis Fois | CEO of NewVoiceMedia

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Exploring options – How Dynamics 365 can help

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Customer Service insights let’s businesses leverage AI-driven insights to improve their customer service experience. Microsoft has included the following innovative features designed to help track performance across various channels

  • Dashboard Reference
  • Data Subject Rights (DSR) requests under GDPR

The dashboard reference comprises of various dashboards such as –

1.KPI summary dashboard This offers a macro-view of customer service experiences in your company, displaying topics currently generating the highest volume along with emerging issues.

2.New cases dashboard This is an overview of all the newly added customer cases in your system.

New cases dashboard

3.Resolutions dashboard This is a company-wide view of all case resolutions. AI helps identify the issues that impact resolution time.

Resolutions dashboard

4.Customer satisfaction dashboard Offers an overview of all the customer satisfaction scores in your company using AI automation to track the topics which have the highest impact on CSAT scores.

Customer satisfaction dashboard

5.Topic details dashboard This is a detailed overview of key performance indicators(KPIs) for specific topics using AI automation to showcase the impact by product and channel on customer satisfaction scores and resolution time.

Topic details dashboard

Aside from built-in dashboards, visual filters, and interactive charts that give an overview of operational data across all channels, Dynamics 365 also offers actionable insights based on critical performance metrics and emerging trends from your customer service system, highlighting areas that could benefit from improvement and could significantly impact business growth.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights provides a number of valuable benefits including

Improving customer satisfactionBuild brand loyalty by resolving issues before in a timely fashion. Gain a comprehensive understanding of CSAT scores used to calculate customer satisfaction.

Increasing operational efficiencies Streamline operations with insights from case resolutions, historical comparisons, and backlog trends to evaluate customer service agent performance. Monitor case volumes and expected support topics to optimize efficiency.

Enhancing visibility Dynamics 365 helps with effective visualization of customer engagement patterns, customer service operations using various AI-automated dashboards, machine learning capabilities and agent performance, and more. Discover and share critical insights using interactive charts and filters with AI for customer service.

Key Takeaways

While things like sales, pricing and quantity is often the main focus of businesses, it’s important to understand that developing good experiences with customers is just as important, sometimes more. Satisfied customers become extremely effective promoters of the brand simply by recommending your products or services to people they know. This helps businesses expand as loyalty leads to an emotional connection.

As we continue to see newer, more advanced technologies designed to simplify and enhance customer service experiences emerge, understanding the simple fact that people never forget how you made them feel will be even more important. The future of AI in customer service is indeed very bright.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

ENTERPRISE PROCESS AUTOMATION TRENDS

Upcoming Process Automation Trends That Will Transform Your Enterprise

Upcoming Process Automation Trends That Will Transform Your Enterprise 1500 1167 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

The ultimate goal of any enterprise is that of speeding up processes, reducing errors, and increasing business output for better revenue generation. With the onset of the digitization era, companies have upgraded their technological prowess to adapt to process automation. It is important to understand that in the rapidly transforming world, process automation is not just a technological ability to speed up processes but a strategic movement towards better use of software to streamline workforce, introduce better work practices and mitigate cost inflations. Since COVID-19, process automation has turned into a need of the hour to improve operations that are built with adherence to process compliance and yield better outputs with a limited workforce. This means process automation will transform enterprises at a larger scale to increase agility and reduce dependency on manual work.

Manual Vs Automation

Is your business still operating through manual handoffs, excel macros, and cumbersome reporting? As businesses are integrating automation in more rapidly in different facets right from HR to Marketing, Production, Sales, and Information Technology; there is a considerable reduction in human intervention for mundane and simpler tasks. A component of efficiency will be introduced with the implementation of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in process automation. According to a leadership piece by Sogeti (1), enterprises will look into integrating robotics process automation (RPA) with AI to extract more business value. Read on to know why an enterprise should consider intelligent process automation for complete transformation and the latest trends that will help businesses along the path of said transformation.

Why Embracing the Latest Process Automation Trends and Techniques is a Necessity for an Enterprise?

As an enterprise, you need to ask yourself a key question: Where should the business’ attention be?

While at face-value this question may seem trivial, the entire enterprise architecture revolves around this key aspect. The more attention your skill base gives towards the latest trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Cloud, Advanced Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and automated-integrated workflows, the better streamlined and agile your workforce would be. Hence it is highly significant for enterprises to explore deep into the latest process automation trends and make their employees acquainted with these trends for a competitive edge.

There is no doubt about the fact that legacy systems need upgrades and modernization to encompass latest trends of digitization, modern technologies and to become aligned with the fast-paced, changing business demands. Process automation plays a key role here. If not for process automation, the IT systems would face the brunt of not being able to keep up with business process improvements (carried out usually at a large-scale), leading to lesser productivity and overall loss of revenue. Automation helps you form ‘bundles’ of data and migrate them to platforms for systematic records management. Process automation can help your enterprise reduce the error rate, and increase productivity at a lower cost. But one point to remember is that the process automation described above would only make sense if your company has already transformed into a modern ERP system.

Figure 1 8 Reasons to Automate Your Business Processes

1.Handling the Unstructured Data Challenge: While data on systems has been very much taken care of by current process automation tools, enterprises and their related facets still struggle with unstructured forms of data such as hand-written notes, bills, invoices, images, etc. With the introduction of machine learning and artificial intelligence, businesses are digging up automation solutions that will not only recognize this type of data (with the help of Robotics), but also assimilate and use it in processes similar to structured data.

2.Low-Code Solutions for Faster Results: Robotic process automation when integrated with low code solutions forms a golden bridge of zero human intervention and faster application development. These low code solutions enhance efficiency as well as help in transforming core processes like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

3.Integration of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with Business Process Automation (BPA): Interdependent workflows have always been a part of large enterprises and the IT skill set in an organization has mostly been at the helm of managing these interconnecting processes in a complex workflow system. The latest automation tools will help in integrating RPA with BPA resulting in the formation of intricate workflows and implementation of all the related processes.

4.Real-Time Automated Decision Making: Enterprises will see more and more management of big data with the help of artificial intelligence and this will facilitate the way for flexible tools for IT operations that will preempt glitches and provide real-time solutions. This will help in better resource-allocation, lesser communication gaps, and fewer outages.

5.A Chance Towards Skill Set Upgrade: When computers were introduced as a tool to reduce human effort, they were met with a lot of apprehensions. In fact, many considered them as machines that would make a human contribution to technology obsolete. Similar apprehension and even cynicism can be seen in the case of process automation tools and software. After all, process automation eliminates the need for human intervention, making many technical jobs outworn.

However, enterprises are now looking up to this advancement in process automation as a chance to upgrade the skill set of their current employee base and make them adept in the latest technologies and tools. This will not only help the IT personnel move from labor-intensive, monotonous jobs to skill-based, dynamic ones, but it will also create a learning curve in the industry resulting in more innovations. When put in perspective, automation is not the cause for losing jobs, it is instead an opportunity for companies to fill the skill set gap and enhance the expertise of their IT personnel for innovation and better strategic output.

By 2023, AI-enabled automation in data management will reduce the need for IT specialists by 20%Source: Gartner report

The Changing Landscape

An enterprise cannot deny the fact that adapting to the need of the hour with the latest process automation trends is going to work in favor of its core business value. Numerous users across organizations will gain access to data, automated workflows that will be systematically prepared, and actionable insight that will aid towards building an agile enterprise. In the current market being agile as a company will be your strong suit. As they say, the cards are laid on the table; it is up to the businesses now to play their hand wisely!

Figure 2 Robotic process automation (RPA) market revenues worldwide from 2017 to 2023 (in billion U.S. dollars)

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Source : Statista

Remote work is becoming more prevalent post-COVID-19. Companies are looking for more ways to streamline operations, engage the workforce, and yet meet the needs of customers. Process automation plays a major role in volatile market conditions during COVID-19. A combination of Microsoft’s Power Platform, AI – ML, Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 ERP, integrated with Teams allows users to streamline their processes and build needed visibility for management to effectively view the progress of operations remotely.

In fact, a successful use case off-late within various companies is to integrate Dynamics 365 with flow, teams, planner, and SharePoint to enhance compliance of process, coordination with team members remotely, track processes that are running in each department and provide task execution clarity for each employee within a department. More companies are adopting this suite of tools to improve productivity and simplify workforce engagement. All major functions of a company – be it Procurement, Sales, Manufacturing, Quality, Finance or HR, when unified together help a business stay afloat during challenging market conditions and support the over well-being of a business.

Key Takeaways

  • Introduction of Automated workflows, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Big Data, Machine Learning, and Advanced Electronics has changed the face of process automation for better and faster results.
  • Enterprises will need to invest more in advanced process automation tools to stay ahead in the competition and to gain critical business value.
  • Evaluate low-cost solutions for process automation that is easily customizable for your business and build enhanced visibility of how your company is performing in a challenging market.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com