Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is becoming one of the most spoken about and utilized digital technologies in various businesses. Far from just being a useful tool in direct manufacturing tasks, RPA presents several key advantages for businesses that want to optimize their procurement processes.
The intense amount of data collection allows procurement professionals to see where productivity is lagging, where the most incisive procurement changes can be made, and what they need to do to drive business growth. RPA can also automate some of the most manual and time-intensive tasks, giving procurement teams more power to help their organizations scale rather than simply grow.
Ignoring RPA can cause competitive companies to fall behind in a matter of months because they can’t keep up with the new standards of streamlined efficiency. In this guide, we’ll break down some of the most impactful benefits of RPA in procurement, especially when it comes to data reporting and analytics.
Modern Procurement Reporting and Analytics
Today’s analytics are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. When programs can power through raw data from countless sources, they can investigate the patterns more deeply and find more insightful trends.
With the amount of data that sales deals, production processes, and supply chain interactions can generate, failing to use cutting-edge reporting tools can leave your employees swamped with half-processed data.
Your team needs to have constant access to changes in regional and international prices of goods and services. You also need to know in real-time how your organization is consuming direct and indirect goods, what is currently in the pipeline, and what goods your organization will need in the future.
Four Essential Types of Procurement Analytics
Procurement analytics is how businesses assess their procurement needs based on historical trends, real-time demands, and advanced forecasting models. This data comes from a wide variety of sources, ranging from negotiated vendor agreements to your ERP and other business platforms. While all of this data comes in many different forms and presents different lenses for viewing procurement, there are four key types of analytics your procurement team needs to focus on:
Descriptive analytics explore your organization’s past procurement needs and fulfillment efforts. You can use RPA to describe what happened in past quarters and years. This is often a beginning stage of RPA in procurement; you are gaining a big-picture perspective on past efforts.
Diagnostic analytics assess the descriptive overview. In this stage of analysis, you are determining whether past strategies, vendor relationships, and procurement processes failed or succeeded. You can also use diagnostic analytics to determine why certain events — including negative events like shortages or production delays and positive events like increased product quality or administrative productivity — may have occurred.
Now that you have gained a solid understanding of past performance, you can begin to apply your RPA tools to forecasting future needs and assessing likely outcomes of your current procurement processes. Through predictive analytics, you and your team have a stronger ability to identify the right processes for your KPIs or organizational goals.
Once you have identified likely outcomes from different procurement efforts, you can use those insights to choose which workflows, vendor contracts, and other procurement elements will be used moving forward. This is the gold standard of RPA-enabled analytics: you can confidently choose your next moves based on what the data itself recommends.
However, this is far too much data to wade through alone. Even a team of highly trained analysts won’t be enough, and that’s why more and more businesses are either turning to automation for data collection now or are resolving to make it their priority in 2022.
The Role of RPA in Data Collection
To reach the point of successful prescriptive analytics, you need to be confident in your data. Human error, manual data entry, and incomplete data collection can all impede this cornerstone of analytics.
This is where robotic process automation steps in. RPA software can carry out many activities that were previously restricted to humans, such as performing repetitive tasks, transferring data, finding patterns, and comparing information.
One common use of RPA in procurement is utilizing the technology to identify current procurement contracts, mark key data (such as invoicing addresses, payment terms, and even payment totals), and transfer the details into an ERP system.
Take Your Reporting and Analytics to the Next Level
With a thorough understanding of RPA, the sky’s the limit. You and your team can use this technology to streamline searches for data, uncover trends, and determine the most cost-effective steps forward. Some of the most critical advantages of RPA bots in the business world include:
Error Elimination and Updated Data
Bots pull data from disparate sources faster and more accurately than humans. There’s no risk of a finger slipping and hitting the wrong key. You can even employ RPA bots to go back and verify the data to catch any potential errors. Even better, these bots can cycle through your data repositories to ensure your information is always up to date.
Procurement teams can’t rely on budget increases to meet new levels of demand. Instead, it’s increasingly important to streamline spending and trim away inefficiencies. RPA bots can help analyze spending and find opportunities to renegotiate or improve performance.
RPA bots are especially useful for procurement teams when it comes to contract management. RPA bots augment existing contract management teams by simplifying the post-award contract management process and creating custom reports that help monitor contract risk, track usage & pricing, maintain terms compliance, and more.
Your team can constantly revise, reassess, and optimize each procurement strategy you try. RPA bots can collect data about how your organization is shifting as a result of new processes, leading to updated prescriptive analytics and forecasts about meeting your KPIs.
Partner With Acquis Consulting to Supercharge Your Business
Process improvement is simply guesswork without data. Through RPA bots and analytics tools that let you see and use as much data as possible to fuel your decision, your organization will become more agile and responsive to opportunities. Acquis Consulting is here to help your organization make the switch to RPA-based reporting and analytics. Browse our resources today to learn more.