Automated Purchase Order Creation for International Retailer
The Finance Planning Department for an International Retail and Manufacturing Company and its subsidiary brand companies receives Electronic Data Interchanges (EDIs) from customers via email that contain purchase order requests. Originally, the employees would print out the EDIs for auditing purposes and were responsible for checking the requisitions, ensuring that the sales document type is the correct one for the internal system, checking and correcting the line items, and adding the vendor number to orders. The SME would then create the Purchase Order based on the correct requisition information and adds the shipping instructions and exit-factory ship date into SAP. Although the POE requisitions do not have a specific date to be processed by, all orders need to be processed in a timely manner once received. At peak times, each Finance Planning team member experiences up to 100 EDI’s per day, causing processing delays. To increase purchase order cycle time and customer satisfaction, while reducing error rate and employee fatigue, process automation was recommended and deployed.
- Check the Input file: Bot checks the input file in each folder and loads it into the automation queue for processing. If the file is the wrong type, the bot will recognize the “OR” file and move it to a “ZTPO conversion” folder. If the file is correct, the bot skips the conversion step and resumes automation with these files after all are the right type.
- OR to ZTPO conversion: Bot logs into SAP application and performs the OR to ZTPO conversion activity. Bot searches files by purchase order number, the system checks the sales type, if it is not ZTPO it is converted.
- PO Number added: Bot creates the new PO number and sends an email to the financial planning team with all sale details for the newly created PO orders. From there, an employee assigns the appropriate vendor to the PO and sends it back to the bot. The Bot stores POs in the shared drive.
- Verify and Correct Incoterm: Bot goes back into SAP to add the matching vendor code to the order and verifies and corrects the Incoterm1 (delivery info) and Incoterm2 (payment info).
- PO Creation: Bot creates the Purchase Order based on the correct requisition information and adds the shipping yard container instructions as well as the exit-factory date in SAP. If system fails at any step, an email is sent to the finance planning department with the corresponding information to be processed manually.
- Generates Report: Bot generates a report at the end of each day and emails it to the finance planning team as a receipt of Purchase Orders created and for further internal/customer record keeping.
Implementing automation for this process allowed for each financial planning employee to be given one bot each to complete Purchase Order Creation daily; resulting in 75% Process Time Reduction. Originally each human employee took around 20 minutes to correct the information and process the POs; a bot can complete the process in its entirety in under 5 minutes, allowing customers to receive their orders faster and with no line item errors.