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Why granular real-time data is more important than ever to supply chain management

The principle of cause and effect, identified many years ago, now has such far reaching implications that entire careers are dedicated to modeling and understanding its relationship. Global trade, travel, and exchange of ideas has transformed the world into the one we live in today. Seemingly minor decisions or mistakes can cause a ripple effect across industries. The last few years have provided ample examples of this, from COVID-19 to the Suez Canal blockage. In fact, figures are still being calculated regarding how much the six-day long obstruction of the Suez Canal cost. Estimates suggest that the losses and damages could cost over one billion dollars. The total economic impact will likely be impossible to measure.

It was a logistics nightmare for supply chain managers, who need to swing into action quickly when disruption means that goods are either unavailable, or not where they should be, when they should be. Damage control is required at speed to mitigate the impact of breakdowns in the supply chain. Automation tools such as intelligent document processing (IDP) can speed up the necessary response and management of information. An integrated IDP platform, when used for straight-through processing, can provide near real-time transferal of information between systems and parties. Data is extracted from the relevant documents faster and, critically, gets into the hands of the right person quickly. Working from the same dataset across multiple teams makes logical sense. And, during a crisis like the Suez Canal blockage, it could be the difference between irreversible losses or manageable costs.

The financial risks of such crises can be covered with the right insurance but this also relies on accurate and up-to-date data being compiled and maintained. Gathering, organizing, analyzing and inputting data for risk modeling is incredibly time-consuming but that doesn’t have to be the case. Using automated, intelligent document processing is both cost and time effective. There are no-code and low-code options on the market that can be implemented quickly and tailored to meet custom needs. The Eigen platform can transform text within documents into actionable data and deliver it directly into other systems to improve decision-making, reduce rekeying and related errors, ensure ongoing regulatory compliance, and systematize knowledge. This way, each team along the process can spend their time acting on the data and applying their expertise to the challenges, rather than compiling information. With so many steps and handoffs along the supply chain source-to-pay workflow process (see diagram below), accelerating each team’s ability to act can be a vital advantage.

Multiple factors are creating increasing demands on procurement and supply chain managers’ time. In fact, procurement teams today face major challenges in simply securing the resources they need. The global pandemic, charged political landscape and world events such as the Suez Canal blockage, have contributed to supply chain issues. Everyday manufacturing goods we have come to rely on like glass and semiconductors have been in scarce supply. Procurement teams are forced to re-negotiate with existing vendors and source new ones. For effective procurement, accurate cost and risk analysis, and demand planning, it’s critical to have up-to-date information as well as historical data at hand. Gathering richer data with the help of AI-powered IDP tools ensures fewer errors, better accuracy, and a faster response to changing conditions. Negotiating and coordinating the logistics of these new or amended agreements without a deep understanding of their contents and clauses can be disadvantageous at best, or disastrous at worst.

Supply chain managers have always dealt with complexity and change and they continue to rise to the challenges faced today. IDP tools can help mitigate the impact, reducing costs and improving productivity, even as complexity increases. Intelligent data automation has reached a level of maturity it was once lacking, and the timing could not be better. Many skilled employees are resigning, making hiring in response to these new global challenges difficult. The Eigen platform offers a no-code solution that eliminates the need for manual processing and analysis along the source-to-pay process with better accuracy and efficiency than adding headcount. Plus, it frees up time for your team to spend on higher-value work that helps with morale and retention.

Today’s most successful procurement and supply chain management teams are leveraging frontier technology like intelligent document processing to mitigate the effects that recent global events have caused. Those early adopters are staying one step ahead of their peers by being better equipped to handle the inevitable changes and challenges that are sure to arise in their line of work.

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