The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and other unprecedented events make it imperative for enterprises to future-proof their business operations to ensure smooth processes. Especially, businesses are looking for ways to counter supply disruptions. In this endeavor, most organizations see advanced technology-based procurement solutions as an ideal solution to avoid disruptions in the supply chain and streamline processes. In fact, the usage of procurement software is not new to the market. It has evolved through multiple generations and recently stood as the best alternative to the traditional, paper-based procurement process.
What is Autonomous Procurement
Autonomous procurement is a data-driven model that works with both historical data derived from past experiences and real-time data that is synchronized with market trends. It leverages technology to enable procurement teams to automate the entire source-to-pay process while reducing the need for human intervention. The main objective of procurement autonomous is not to eliminate the human element from the process; instead, its goal is to reduce unnecessary and time-consuming tasks, thereby allowing the workforce to focus on productive tasks and operate at a strategic level. Alongside enabling businesses to automate repetitive tasks, it provides useful insights for result-driven decision-making.
Before going to the fully autonomous phase, procurement is likely to go through an interim stage where the procurement workforce will get assistance from the technology. This phase is termed augmented procurement, and it helps to gain trust in the systems and algorithms. Currently, many vendors are offering procurement solutions with smart functionality, such as vendor-managed inventory tools, rule-based systems, and more. For instance, the vendor-inventory functionality helps the procurement teams eliminate the product ordering step by allowing the system to auto-order products when inventories hit predefined levels. However, this kind of rules-based automation is not autonomous. The emerging autonomous procurement can go beyond this functionality to make purchases automatically based on user preferences, past purchases, and experiences. It provides users with recommendations and opportunities, suggests actions, and helps them to leverage available opportunities and become more efficient.
The key objective of autonomous procurement is to proactively track past experiences and market trends and leverage that information to make informed decisions. If the prices of specific products are going to increase in the direct procurement market, autonomous procurement notifies this information to the user and triggers an appropriate action.
Here is how the transition to autonomous can make life easy for procurement professionals:
Simplifies Supplier Sourcing and Onboarding
Suppliers are the cornerstone of every business, and therefore sourcing the right suppliers is imperative for every organization. Checking and comparing the bids submitted by multiple suppliers and selecting the right one among them is a tedious task. Fortunately, autonomous procurement enables the users to select suppliers based on their past performance, contract and payment terms, etc. It simplifies the supplier’s onboarding process and ensures that you have the right suppliers onboarded and readily available to initiate the purchasing process.
Improves Buying Experience
The process of purchasing the commodities will be simplified when Autonomous procurement simplifies the commodities purchasing process and enhances the overall buying experience. Users can compare and purchase commodities via their smartphones easily with advanced tools such as speech-to-text, chatbots, and more. Autonomous procurement provides the business the ability to bring consistency across a diverse workforce working remotely. It simplifies the adoption and use of technology and helps the users to make the right use of systems with minimum training.
Traditionally, procurement teams had to deal with numerous challenges, such as supply risk, inaccurate data, dark purchasing, lack of transparency, supplier-related issues, and more. Autonomous procurement reduces the complexity and simplifies the overall source-to-procure process to enable the users to make the right sourcing and purchasing decisions.
Big Data at your Fingertips
Autonomous and big data are inherently intertwined. Big data powers the intelligent systems of the autonomous platform while the platform helps process data. Data analysis delivers different scenario analyses and recommendations and helps businesses prepare for the circumstances. It increases the agility and responsiveness of your organization, which means you can quickly adjust to market changes and disruptions in global supply chains.
The Bottom Line
Industry experts predict that autonomous procurement will hit the market very soon, and businesses should be ready to adopt it to improve their processes. With the recent supply chain disruptions, most businesses are seeking to adopt procurement technology much earlier than anticipated to streamline their operations. Given the pact at which advanced technology solutions are evolving, autonomous procurement will become a necessity for businesses of every industry very soon. The systems with embedded intelligence that learns from routine actions provide users with recommendations to make valuable decisions and change the way businesses manage procurement processes.