More than 70% of businesses and industries are willing to invest in RPA. The current RPA market stands at 1.1 billion USD and is expected to grow at a CARG of 33.6% from 2020 to 20271. According to the London School of Economics, a 24/7 robot can increase a company’s ROI by 600% in just 3 years2.
Aren’t these fascinating facts? This clearly shows that the world is becoming smarter and adopting automated solutions to magnify the efficiency.
Robotic Process Automation or RPA can be defined as software or robot that can automate redundant and routine activities that do not depend on human judgment. According to Fortune.com close to 40% of all the jobs can be automated, and the rest can be semi-automated using RPA3. Robots can perform regular administrative jobs better than human beings. RPA brings accuracy, speed, efficiency, and cost savings together at the same time. It helps businesses to use their existing application software’s like CRM and ERM more productively.
The pharmaceutical industry has several routine activities that can be replaced by a robot. This will increase efficiency, collaboration in the supply chain, and bring down operation costs. In the modern era, customers are well-informed, and there is a massive pressure in the life sciences industry to improve their R&D and produce better life-saving drugs. Automation will not only save cost or increase efficiency but also allow human beings to focus more on research and address customer demands.
The pharmaceutical industry can benefit from RPA in multiple ways. Starting from Clinical Development and Sales Force Management to Precision Marketing and Supply Chain Management. Automation is all set to make supply chains lean and efficient. Some of the most significant issues in the supply chain are
- · Inventory Management
- · Integrating operations across multiple channels
- · Visibility across the supply chain
This presents a perfect scope for Robotic Process Automation. RPA can perform core business functions ten times faster than human beings with complete accuracy. The analytics from RPA helps in forecasting, tracking goods, and help in making complex decisions. To understand the complete potential of RPA in the supply chain, let us look into the following use cases –
Automating Order Processing
Even today, order processing means a lot of paperwork and manual transactions. These tasks can be easily automated and made more efficient using RPA. Activities like product selection, payment processing, and order confirmation can be completely digitalized. Customers can directly place orders on a company website, a payment gateway can assist in payment, and an automated email will inform about order confirmation.
This model is currently implemented in the retail industry (think how you place and confirm orders on Amazon). Similar models can be implemented in the supply chain for pharmaceutical companies.
Monitoring inventory levels, placing orders, and tracking products across the supply chain makes inventory management a very complex activity. RPA can automate inventory management, eliminate human labor, and increase productivity. Automations can monitor product levels and place an order when the inventory goes below a threshold level. RPA helps in tracking the product right from the order placement until it is shipped to the customer.
Further, it can use historical data and deduce patterns that can help in demand forecasting and order placement. With RPA, employees become free and can focus on areas that require judgment and complex decision making.
Planning Supply and Demand
The success of supply chain management demands on how accurately the demand conditions are forecasted. This involves a lot of complex data, order histories, industry and market conditions, and many unforeseen factors. This leads to a time-consuming and error-prone process.
RPA, coupled with AI and ML, can automate these tasks and predict demand conditions accurately. It also takes into account demand spikes and other insights that misses the human eye. RPA can analyze volumes of data in no time, prepare reports, and help you plan most effectively.
Vendor selection involves a lot of manual processes that can be easily digitized. Creating an RFQ (request for quotation), vendor communication, evaluating quotes, and finally selecting the vendors comprises vendor management.
With RPA implementation, human effort and interaction can be completely minimized. It is only needed for face-to-face meetings and a final selection step. The rest of the processes can be automated using RPA, coupled with AI and IoT. It can efficiently process Requisition Forms, Order Quotations, and Vendor Proposals and help in making the best choice in vendor selection.
Invoice management is directly connected with payment processing. No one would like errors and mistakes in invoice management. It involves a lot of tedious tasks like invoice preparation, entering details from invoice, match invoice against the purchase order, and reconcile payments with the invoice.
Automating these activities will speed up the entire process and eliminate human errors. RPA can extract data from purchase orders and automatically create an invoice. Invoice Management can be
coupled with Inventory Management and Demand Planning for ensuring efficiency across the entire supply chain.
Refund and Returns
This part of the supply chain involves a lot of risks and high-value. Allowing human intervention gives room for errors and overwhelming workflows. Right since the return request is placed till the time the product reaches the warehouse and the refund is processed, the activities are highly complicated.
This presents a perfect opportunity for RPA to step in. The entire chain of activities can be automated. Implementing rule-based automation, the refund processing system can reduce human efforts and make the activities error-free.
To gain the maximum benefit from RPA in the life sciences sector, businesses must understand the limitations of RPA as well. It can automate routine activities but cannot replace a human being in making complex decisions. Pharmaceutical companies need to plan the roadmap, identify the processes that can be automated, and continuously upgrade their systems. The last thing to be taken care of is the regulatory mandates and rules. All these automation and digitization should be appropriately checked and monitored. Remember, RPA is there to assist human beings not to replace them!
Speak to us at i2e Consulting to understand how we can help you with Robotic Process Automation and other innovative technologies to transform your supply chain
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