Automation

Agility in daily operations using the Power Platform

Agility in daily operations using the Power Platform 1500 800 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

COVID-19 is testing the supply chain and manufacturing operations around the world. Companies have their hands full dealing with workers who have become ill or those who are required to be home due to lack of raw materials delivery and limited work hours. Now more than ever, businesses are evaluating how to improve efficiency, lower cost, and increase operational performance. The immediate question on everyone’s mind is, “how are we coming out of this crisis”?

94%

of Fortune 1000 companies are seeing supply chain disruptions from COVID-19

Fortune , February 21 2020

While employees’ safety is a top priority during this pandemic, mitigating the impact on the day-to-day operations is top of mind. CEOs and CFOs are facing the unprecedented challenge of pivoting product demands and preserving cash flow that has grown over the last few weeks. Implementing a do more with less attitude while gaining a few quick wins in the process can build the momentum needed to keep companies moving forward.

FIGURE 1 The Ecosystem of an Integrated Supply Chain

Pivoting the Plan

The role of the CIO is critical in risk mitigation strategies in numerous ways. First, drafting a plan to determine how the COVID crisis is affecting the infrastructure short term and keeping operations running as smoothly as possible but also long term as projects and roadmap budgets will most definitely be affected. We’ve seen in the last 30 days, moving as many employees to remote work without disruption has been at the center of many organizations. Tools like Microsoft Teams and Skype have allowed organizations to continue communication, and their integration with Office 365 is allowing familiar tools to ease the transition.

Keeping the Lines Open

Not all employees of production and distribution companies are working from home. Due to increased demand for products, thousands of workers have been deemed essential, many having to operate on a 24/7 model. These facilities are finding themselves adding shifts, ramping up capacity, and working to keep warehouses stocked with both raw materials and finished products. Service providers for equipment maintenance and repair are another industry with workers ensuring that machines stay online and working correctly.

FIGURE 2 Microsoft Power Platform: An Integrated Solution

It is during this time that having tools in place can help to expedite communication between facilities and these providers. The Microsoft Power Platform is a creative solution; this low code-no-code platform can be implemented in a matter of hours to generate a quick win. A no-code solution can be valuable when needing to make rapid or immediate decisions while maintaining critical operations.

65%

of all App Development will be low code by 2024 as estimated

Source: Gartner

By using PowerApps, workers can get access and insights into machines that may be headed for trouble before they experience downtime, or even be alerted to scheduled downtime for cleaning to comply with the CDC’s Expected Business Response Plan. Power Apps can connect to hundreds of business systems and databases, making it easy to connect workers with the existing processes and data are easily integrated with Microsoft Outlook to keep those within the supply chain informed.

Increased development agility

Automate and simplify repetitive and time-consuming processes to launch faster and reduce errors across your organization.

01

Speed and savings

Reduce time & cost building web and mobile applications, enabling you to get through your development backlog.

02

Do less but achieve more

Fully managed, with preset data models and common entities, out of the box business logic and rules, that is fully customizable to your business needs.

03

Meeting the Demand

Using forecast planning during normal operations helps to predict the flow of material through the supply chain. However, in times of crisis, using a demand planning model is essential. By conducting a daily “What-if analysis,” scenario planning, and Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) using a Consumption Driven Model along with industry and customer knowledge, companies mitigate as much risk as possible. As we have seen in the past few weeks, carmakers like Tesla, Ford, and General Motors have been able to quickly adjust their production lines from automotive parts to assist with the shortage of ventilator parts.

Executives are continually evaluating sales and budget plans. Power Automate can help to reduce the number of tedious manual processes when decisions cannot wait for lots of analysis and provide a creative, cost-effective strategy for businesses to connect their existing legacy systems. A perfect example would be the workflows for approvals that are activated in a matter of hours instead of days. As the workforce is becoming a hybrid of remote and on-site team members, this can reduce the time spent tracking down approvals and keep things moving. For managers who are used to adjusting production lines and need to approve adjustments on the fly, all while staying compliant, getting the right notifications is critical. Using Power Bi for current and future analysis will also lend a hand when developing future emergency response plans.

Staying Ahead

In addition to machine maintenance, keeping facilities clean and informed based on CDC guidelines is critical to keep operations running and employees safe. The Power Platform has deployed several new tools ahead of the April release.

  • Crisis Communication – It is a solution that combines Microsoft Power Apps, Microsoft Power Automate, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint to coordinate information sharing and team collaboration in response to evolving conditions. Employees can report work status and make requests, and admins can use the app to push updates and news including RSS feeds from the World Health Organization (WHO), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or local authorities, or emergency contacts to different locations—all accessible on the web, mobile, or in Teams.
  • Power Virtual Agents Crisis Response Bot – the Power Virtual Agents team has released instructions to build a Virtual Agent Crisis Response FAQ Bot that helps people get to the information they need quickly in a chat interface you can embed on your company website.

Power Apps Drives Business Transformation

The recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting shows how businesses reduced development costs and increased overall efficiency using Power Apps. Results are for a composite organization based on interviewed customers.

362%ROI over three years

70% Reduction in app development costs

3.2 hrsLine-of-business employee productivity improvement per week

Source: The Total Economic Impact of Power Apps commissioned study, March 2020

Extraordinary Challenge

The COVID-19 crisis may have unknown long term implications, so taking the time to plan is essential. Understand that putting out today’s fires is the most critical task, re-evaluating the existing roadmap and gaining a few quick wins in the process will help relieve some of the anxiety. Over the next few weeks, as we hope to get back to a more stabilized business environment, having tools in place to watch markets and consumer behavior and report that data back to your teams will help companies to move forward with more confidence. Tools like the Microsoft Power Platform will allow the runway of significant gains with little cost to get started.

We are all grateful for those companies that are quick to rise to the call to keep America moving forward. We extend a ‘Thank You’ to the countless pharmaceutical, chemical, and distribution companies who are working despite risks to keep us supplied with the essentials.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers 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

The Up and Coming Trends in Process Automation That Will Transform Your Enterprise

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)

  

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.

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers 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

How to Automate Your Corporate Purchase Order to Boost Efficiency?

How to Automate Your Corporate Purchase Order to Boost Efficiency? 1920 1280 shahid.anis

Introduction

The purchasing process of any organization has always focused on simplifying the procurement of materials as well as services, and boost supply chain efficiency. In today’s digital world, it has become more essential for companies to formulate a comprehensive strategy for running operations faster and smoother. Is your workforce still operating on manual and archaic systems to manage purchase orders? An antiquated process not only leads to mismanagement and user errors but also hurts your bottom line.

You need to take a technology-driven approach that focuses on automating the entire supply chain from cradle to grave instead of concentrating only on warehouse operations and inventory control. Automating and streamlining your purchase orders with real-time supplier collaboration saves time and cost while simultaneously increasing efficiency as well as profitability.

Figure 1 Integrating the Purchase Order Process

Your employees might be the only common link between your business systems and the suite of tools they use every day – be it for email, spreadsheet, or word processing . Using multiple tools that are disjointed very quickly leads to lack of visibility. Connected business solutions from Microsoft help streamline your internal processes and pull needed information together so that 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

Procurement and the Life Cycle of Purchase Order (POs)

The crux of Procurement involves negotiating terms, acquiring goods or services, from a list of approved vendors, and assessing supplier evaluation based on past transactions. The end-to-end activity starts from choosing the right vendors, establishing payment terms, then moving on to sending purchase orders, managing receipt of purchased goods, and processing invoices/ payments.

The Purchase order lifecycle, also referred to as the “Purchase to Pay” or “P2P” cycle, comprises of six core steps:

1.Vendor Selection: After receiving quotations from suppliers, the Buyer works towards shortlisting the best ones that meet the business requirement and budget. Simultaneously, the procurement team also conducts a detailed verification of the supplier taking input from all stakeholders to reach on a unified decision.

2.Negotiation & PO Dispatch: A contract negotiation takes place with the selected supplier in terms of the delivery timeline, set an On time in full (OTIF) KPI, establish a payment process, agree on quality standards, dispute resolutions, confidentiality, risks, change in requirements, and other miscellaneous details. The supplier and buyer sign contracts for a single or group of purchases, by locking in the price and other terms.

3.Purchase Order Creation: Once the procurement team receives approval on purchase requests, they create a single line or multiline purchase order containing product details, pricing, terms of the delivery, freight methods, and other relevant purchase details. For multiple line items, depending on if the system accommodates it or not, the buyer may create separate purchase orders for each item.

Figure 2 A Purchase Order Lifecycle

4.Receiving goods on a PO and Quality check: The vendor sends a ‘lot/ batch’ of material per the instructions and agreed upon terms on the PO. On receiving the product, the buyer conducts a standard quality check, validates the PO and packing slip. The receiving clerk verifies the items received through quantity counts, first-level quality check for damages, and accuracy. In case of a dispute, relevant parties are notified with details. Once done, the receiver records the receiving information accurately into the inventory management system.

5.Invoice processing on a PO for payment: The supplier sends the invoice to the buyer or the Accounts payable department. The AP clerk enters the invoice, verifies details via a 2-way or 3-way match against the PO, and posts the PO-invoice. The transaction creates an open invoice against the supplier in the system, which would now show up on an aging report.

6.Processing the payment for the purchase: As the due date approaches, the AP clerk prepares a payment proposal that goes through a workflow to be approved depending on the invoice amounts, prints checks or sends electronic payments, and finally, posts the payment to clear out the open invoice.

Due to all these elaborate steps, being detail oriented becomes one of the primary requirements; thus making automation plays a key role in reducing human error rate and improving the overall accuracy of the purchase-to-pay lifecycle.

Small retailers often don’t use purchase orders as they rely on strong relationships with only a limited number of vendors. But let’s not ignore the fact that verbal deals can at any time be breached from either side and without the knowledge of the other party leading to unnecessary legal battles for all parties involved. Automating the purchase process helps to keep everything documented and safeguards 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 listed below:

  • Authorization limitation

    While only the authorized person should sign off the purchase order. Situations may arise when the person doesn’t receive the PO or even forgets to complete the sign-off. In such cases, the accounts the department may refuse to accept the invoice.

  • Wrong codes and supplier names

    The person-in-charge assigned to the role of completing the purchase may lack the details such as full supplier name, business code, and other details. Filling in the form with half details or wrong details leads to a breakdown, waste of time, and loss of money.

  • Non-completion of all essential columns and boxes

    In manual handling, no system reminds the user to fill in every mandatory piece of data. Missing data in one field can have a domino effect on other areas.

  • Failure to use the preferred suppliers’ list

    In an automated PO management system, a preferred supplier list is given preference and forces the Buyer to not deviate from the list. Choosing suppliers outside the approved list, could result in providing an explanation to the financial department/ management, even if the decision is for the benefit of the organization. Approvals should ideally trigger this step. With a manual process, it is challenging to monitor approved supplier checks.

  • Delay in delivering goods/services

    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 will often result in the supply system slowing down, or worse completely loose track of shipments from the vendor.

Automation as the Solution

While digitizing purchase orders typically involves a more significant initial investment, it is truly a long-term solution that results in a tangible ROI. The sooner you upgrade to automated e-invoicing solutions, the faster your operations will see the benefits. Producing electronic POs in your ERP removes paper but doesn’t put an end to manual processes, as buyers still need to extract the PO from the ERP and email it to the supplier.

The simpler solution is an automated PO system that is easy enough to fit into your business requirements with features such as automatic purchase order creation, approval routing, and sending notifications to suppliers either via email or through an alert triggered via an online supplier portal. Suppliers can access an online supplier portal to receive purchase orders, make modifications, send order acknowledgments, and generate accurate invoices.

5 Steps to Creating an Automated PO System:

Integrating the purchase order system with ERP

Create an electronic PO requisition and approval process

Transmitting electronic purchase orders to suppliers

Providing suppliers with easy online access to view your POs, acknowledge orders, and send advance shipment notices (ASNs) instantly

Streamline supplier transactions, and manage your purchase-to-pay process

Key Benefits of Automating Purchase Order Process:

Suppliers get a 360-degree view of the status of orders, invoices, payments

The PO requisitions automatically route for approval

Increased invoice accuracy and reduces paperwork

Saves time + resources and make users more compliant

Minimizes inconsistencies and reduces opportunities for errors

Streamlines the entire PO process for speed and efficiency

Enhances productivity by managing multiple orders simultaneously

Reduces long-term expenses

Streamlines inventory management and improves decision-making capabilities

The Business User Story – Improving Supplier Interactions with Dynamics 365

You know how critical it is to keep your purchasing team connected in the office and on the go. Dynamics 365 and Office 365 simplifies and automates daily tasks to keep your procurement team focused on managing purchases. Your buyer receives an email from a supplier requesting additional details on a quote for some items. The system recognizes the sender, enabling him to easily pull up prospect cards within Outlook. From this dashboard, he reviews the account – including the supplier’s existing quotes, ongoing orders, and purchase history.

As he’s managing the quote, supplier and product information auto-populate, helping him get it done faster. While he was sending the purchase requisition, a note hit his inbox from a potential supplier he recently interacted at an event. The system recognizes that their email address is not in the supplier database, and prompts him to add it. Without leaving Outlook, he creates their profile in the Dynamics 365 app. This kind of automation reduces time spent on administrative tasks, allowing your purchasing team to quickly respond to received quotes and ultimately improve overall interactions.

Figure 3 Upgrading to an Automated PO System

As a business owner, imagine you receive an email from a high-priority customer who urgently needs an order delivered in a short timeframe, and fulfilling that order is heavily depentant on receiving material from your supplier. Microsoft unifies business processes and personal productivity, connecting your people, processes, and systems like never before. With Dynamics 365 Supply Chain, you can find the information you need and act on it without searching for disparate systems or coordinating with other departments. Dynamics 365 workflows help you secure processes and work on the go. Without leaving your inbox, you check inventory and discover that you don’t have enough stock on hand to fulfill the order. Your Sales team can quickly initiate a Purchase order directly that goes to the Buyer for ‘approval to proceed’.  In the same interface, you create and send both a purchase order to the vendor and a quote to your customer, moving on to your next task within minutes.

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

  • 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.
  • A cloud-based procurement solution offers you greater transparency on purchase order management with 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 and delivers 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