The manufacturing sector is quickly catching up with digitalization. Robotic arms, artificial intelligence, computer vision, etc. are transforming established manufacturing practices and work methods for the better. Added to the digital transformation on the factory floor and warehouses is the rapid development taking place in the administrative section of manufacturing companies. The continuous creation of big data has put a lot of pressure on companies to manage data and document processing work efficiently. In fact, today, data sits at the core of most business processes, and it is no different for the manufacturing sector as well. Advanced automation and robotics have actually added to the growing pile of business data in a company, with intelligent systems depending on data to implement processes.
To maintain industry 4.0 initiatives in manufacturing, businesses have to get their data management and document processing efforts right. There is more automation bound to take place in select processes and systems in manufacturing, which means a greater need for accurate reporting and data management tools. While data is everywhere, right from the point when a company contacts its vendors to the factory floor and inventory, and also when dealing with prospects and customers, companies have always found it challenging to access this data quickly.
Lack of timely availability of data can stall operations, customer service, or even entire processes tied to that data. For instance, when attending to a customer grievance call, if the customer service representative is unable to access the buyer history and purchase details on time, he/she will be unable to efficiently address the issue at hand. The same goes for data that needs to be fed into a business application like Acumatica Cloud ERP or Microsoft Dynamics 365 — if the applications are not updated with the latest order information from a customer, the various participants along the order fulfillment chain like the warehouse staff or shipping personnel will not be made aware of the order soon enough. This lack of timely access to business or transaction data creates a time lag from when a customer places an order to when it can be fulfilled by a company. Delays in data availability can cost companies not just in sales and new revenue streams, but also in terms of return business.
Market conditions and customer preferences are changing all the time. The need to impress the buyer is becoming more difficult than ever with firms competing to get the best products out at the right time. In an era where data drives businesses, the best way to get ahead is by accelerating data availability and management. In manufacturing, there is a continuous stream of incoming and outgoing data in the form of proposals, contracts, quotations, product literature, user guides, bids, tenders, invoices, sales orders, etc. These need to be processed quickly and entered into a company database or business application for further use. Most of this data comes in unstructured or semi-structured document formats and a lot of manual data entry effort and time goes into uploading all this data accurately in a central repository or document management system. Reaching out to the customer first is as much a technicality as it is an art. Same goes for supplier relationships as well. Accessing accurate data on these two critical stakeholders can help companies maximize relationships, and with that, opportunities for growth.
Accessing and managing diverse manufacturing documents can help companies accelerate business:
Reach Out to the Customer First: having data on the customer is like having a weapon to maximize sales. Companies have a better chance to make a sale with the right customer data. This becomes even more important when dealing with customer service or grievance of any kind. By being able to pull up customer data as and when needed to address the issue at hand, companies are in a better position to engage and retain customers longer.
Better Supplier Relations: if you are in the good books of the suppliers, you are guaranteed the best deals at competitive prices. By making payments to your suppliers on time, you make it easy for them to gain your trust. This becomes important when you need to leverage the relationship to get access to the best raw materials and supplies at affordable rates. Accessing and managing vendor invoice data and payments in a time bound manner helps achieve this.
Increased Process Efficiencies: having a mechanism to access accurate data can also help accelerate processes that depend on that data. Improving typical document-dependent processes like sales order processing, invoice processing, etc. will help churn out the right data from these processes and facilitate timely data availability for business use.
Something like invoice processing software or order processing software are good intelligent automation tools that manufacturers can rely on to quickly process transaction documents including invoices, sales orders, credit memos, purchase orders, and all kinds of unstructured or semi-structured documents that are created when a manufacturer interacts with external stakeholders like vendors, customers, etc. The intelligent automation tools enable intelligent document processing for any number of unstructured or semi-structured document types.
The intelligent automation software has the built-in logic and advanced workflow automation capabilities to process these documents and post the transactions and payments data directly in a connected business application or ERP system. The software employs digital transformation technologies like AI, machine learning, robotic process automation, business process automation, recognition software, and intelligent data capture technology to capture, extract, validate, and verify data from invoices, sales orders, and other source documents and enter it into an ERP system for further business use.
The business use may be either fulfilling a customer order, or making payments to vendors, or other operations that cannot proceed without relevant data. Intelligent document processing of document-dependent functions such as these eliminates manual data entry and document processing work, and all the errors that come with it. This in turn removes the inefficiencies during process implementation, meaning businesses will be saved from spending on rework and reprocessing costs due to human errors.
Apart from warehouse automation and advanced robotics on the factory floor, manufacturers can mobilize business with intelligent document process automation. Intelligent automation streamlines and simplifies the most painful steps required to capture, validate, and approve data needed to either initiate or run mission critical processes in manufacturing. The technology relieves companies from the burden of spending on manpower costs while helping improve process efficiencies through straight-through intelligent document processing. Data binds business processes, systems, people and decision-making in an office, and the right data capture and management tools are certain to set manufacturers on a path of complete digital transformation.