Increasing Focus on Supply Chain Process Automation
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Supply Chain Process Automation is Becoming a Priority
Process automation technologies have increasingly evolved into strategic solutions during the last few years. And recently we have seen an increased focus on supply chain process automation.
While the focus in the initial years of process automation adoption was primarily on achieving cost reduction, process visibility and employee productivity have increasingly become important objectives now for deploying process automation solutions. With the initial focus on removing manual touchpoints and eliminating headcount, finance-related processes were the focus of the majority of process automation initiatives. This is evident from the automation progress reported by SAPinsiders where finance-related processes dominate in processes that are more than 50% automated in the current state (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Current state of process automation
However, when it comes to the top focus area business processes for automation in 2022, we see human resources (HR) and supply chain-related processes in addition to finance-related processes (see Figure 2). This aligns with the top requirement of building process automation capabilities across functions, which SAPinsiders believe will help attain organizational agility.
Figure 2: Process automation focus areas
Considering this increased focus, SAPinsider will be publishing a research report, Process Automation in Supply Chain, in September 2022. You can participate in this research by taking the survey here. While one focus area is obviously to investigate which supply chain processes are good candidates, a question that many SAPinsiders have asked us during our interaction with them is our opinion on why there is an increased focus on process automation in supply chain processes.
What Causes This Increased Focus on Process Automation?
While there are a plethora of reasons driving this, the following are the primary ones:
Need for visibility: Supply chain visibility has become an extremely important aspect and process automation technologies, like process mining and intelligence, can provide significant insights and visibility into supply chain processes. This visibility helps support other capabilities, like supply chain control towers, when integrated strategically.
Increased focus on process Improvement: The imperative to run supply chain processes efficiently and in an agile fashion has increased exponentially in recent years. Process intelligence tools can help build some robust foundational capabilities like Six-Sigma, in many business processes that fall under the supply chain gamut. You can leverage process intelligence tools to build simulation models that can help you evaluate the impact of variations in multiple parameters on your processes.
Predictability and planning: Infusing more predictability into the supply chain and fusing it with planning is becoming another imperative. Data captured through process automation and intelligence, combined with advanced analytics can help organizations build this capability. Just like the visibility aspect, this capability can then be integrated with other capabilities like supply chain control towers, Industry 4.0 platforms, and enterprise AI platforms.