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Procurement with Intelligent Automation: Your Guide to Streamlined Buying

Blog: Zvolv Blog

The procurement cycle—sourcing, evaluation, and management of suppliers—is a pillar to any business setup. Traditionally, it has always been characterized by manual operations, poor visibility of data, and processes that take time. But that all is changing with low-code platforms and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

According to a report by Gartner, interest in AI use cases for procurement grew 17 times in 2023 compared to the year before. This is because AI and other low-code technologies are creating a system that focuses on efficiency, data-driven insights, and predictive power. Gartner further claims that procurement organizations that fail to embrace AI technologies will find themselves at a cost and agility deficit compared to their competitors. 

In this blog, we discuss how these two technologies are transforming procurement and can optimize your buying process. 

What is Procurement Process Automation? 

Procurement process automation is the use of technology to automate different tasks and processes involved in a procurement cycle. It entails workflow automation of most of the stages, right from requisitions and approval to the creation of purchase orders, vendor management, and invoice processing up to payment. 

Procurement process automation can be achieved through various technologies, including AI, machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), and low-code platforms. These help procurement teams with an end-to-end process that includes automation, from demand planning to payment and integration with other existing procurement systems like ERP, CRM, and so on. 

Zvolv, a leading low-code IPA platform, offers a comprehensive suite of tools to automate various stages within your procurement process: 

  1. Supplier Registration & Onboarding Flow: Simplify supplier onboarding with a user-friendly self-registration portal. Automate data collection and verification, ensuring a smooth and efficient supplier onboarding experience. 
  1. Item Request Flow & Budget Request: Enable employees to submit item and budget requests. Leverage AI for intelligent suggestions and approval routing, streamlining the requisition process. 
  1. Purchase Request Flow: Automate the creation of purchase requests based on pre-defined workflows and budget constraints. Eliminate manual data entry and expedite approvals for faster purchases. 
  1. Direct Order/RFP/RFQ Flow: Whether it’s a direct order or a complex RFP/RFQ process, Zvolv streamlines the workflow. Manage quotes, compare bids, and automate vendor selection based on pre-defined criteria. 
  1. Purchase Order: Generate error-free purchase orders with pre-populated data and automated approvals. Ensure seamless communication with suppliers and avoid order delays. 
  1. Contract Management: Automate contract creation and approval processes. Utilize AI-powered contract analysis to extract key terms and ensure compliance. Streamline contract renewals and avoid missed deadlines. 

Traditional vs. Modern Procurement Approach 

Traditional procurement processes had rigidity and were cumbersome. Before, the procedures were greatly dependent on historical data, and they followed a relatively ‘waterfall’ style plan: identifying suppliers, outlining needs, creating the plan, selecting a supplier, negotiating, and finally managing the supply chain. 

All too often, these tend to be applied very linearly, with lots of manual work that couldn’t be changed fast enough to adapt to market shifts, meaning long timelines and bottlenecks. 

Procurement automation with AI has long changed that. AI uses powerful algorithms combined with machine learning to improve decision-making and strategic activities as well as mitigate disruptions in the supply chain. 

Using AI to analyze vast amounts of data—historical purchasing data, market trends, supplier performance metrics, and external factors—organizations gain critical insights that support decision-making.  

When combined with low code platforms, it can help in:  

1. Intelligent Demand Planning: AI statistical models provide highly accurate predictions of future needs based on historical data, weather projections, market conditions, and global events. This helps procurement teams to optimize inventory orders and reduce disconnects between stakeholders. 

2. Automated Contracting: Low-code platforms integrate with existing systems, such as ERP and CRM systems, to automate end-to-end contracting processes and eliminate manual data entry and errors. When powered by AI, they can easily extract insights from legacy contracts and external databases to benchmark terms and even negotiate best-fit agreements with suppliers in real-time chat sessions, as well as optimize renewals. 

3. Intelligent Supplier Management: AI can analyze supplier performance data and provide insights into supplier reliability, quality, and compliance.  

4. Smart Invoice Processing: According to McKinsey, laborious tasks like payment, invoice processing, and placing and receiving orders are fairly easy to automate. That is because AI-powered tools can extract relevant invoice data and match it with purchase orders and receipts to reduce manual effort, minimize errors, and speed up invoice approval. 

5. Predictive Risk Identification: Low-code platforms provide a user-friendly interface that enables procurement teams to quickly develop custom applications that proactively mitigate risks.  

6. Automated Audits and Reporting: AI can generate interactive dashboards and customized reports on demand to provide insights instead of stale periodic reporting. You can also run real-time audits of procurement processes and execute compliance checks instead of intermittent manual reviews.  

Reinvent Your Procurement Process 

The best approach to enhance your procurement cycle is to identify the most significant pain points in the procurement process that can benefit from improvements, such as repetitive tasks, bottlenecks causing delays, and challenges predicting future needs. Embedding low code solutions throughout sourcing, contracting, and supplier management can transform procurement functions from reactive to predictive, value-driving centers of excellence.  

Zvolv’s low code platform is a powerful tool that offers organizations advanced automation capabilities to transform their procurement operations. With robust features and a proven record, it can support enterprises in achieving procurement goals—expansion into new markets, adding new suppliers, or scaling operations.  

Get in touch with our team to schedule a demo, and let’s get started. 

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