Document Management and the Digitized Supply Chain

The supply chain of today is miles away from what was common ten years ago. In our modern, digitized supply chains, hardcopy reports can be created, captured and stored electronically for filing, archiving and retrieval. Teams can view data on tablets or mobile devices and use the results with convenience and accuracy right on the loading dock or retail floor. From the road, employees capture digital signatures and send confirmations. And that’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible and what’s planned. Companies expect to make more tech investments “in back end systems, most notably supply chain management (47%) and inventory management and distribution (46%),” according to a KPMG survey.

But the truth is, few supply chains can go completely digital when it comes to documents. Paper remains part of the process, in part because of the many process touch points that happen after the merchandise leaves the manufacturer. Some occur outside the logistics provider’s systems, sometimes outside their country. Hybrid paper/digital workflows are reality, and an effective strategy must consider both.

Some approaches have proven highly effective at bringing paper and digital worlds together. When supply chain documents are digitized and optimized for speed and profitability, good things happen:

  • Inventory reports and shipment information is received faster from multiple sources.
  • Digitized information can be stored in secure, globally accessible locations.
  • Analytics and reporting deliver actionable data across the entire supply chain.
  • Digital documents reduce labor costs, streamline invoice reconciliation and improve fill rates.

Three Ways Document Management Adds Value to Your Supply Chain

Document Management Workflow Value

With digitization, data becomes more mobile, and that’s imperative when it comes to the moving parts of a complex supply chain. Digitized data readily exports to other systems or flows directly into inventory management workflow. Some solutions capture information automatically from multiple reports, so back-office and administrative personnel don’t have those added manual steps. Anyone who has suffered through tedious data re-entry can attest to the value of that.

Document Management Financial Value

Digital document management increases process efficiency, while continually shaking out costs along the way. From supplies to man hours, a steady stream of improvements adds constant, measurable value. Invoice reconciliation and cash flow benefit when document management reduces time and human error in reviewing inventory data. Graphical presentations of data bring clarity to the information, so human brains can put it to good use.

Document Management Compliance Value

In a digital document “supply chain”, exceptions or anomalies automatically trigger reconciliation processes for review and resolution. With less-automated processes, it can take longer to resolve exceptions downstream, when information may be harder and more expensive to assemble and fix. This creates bigger problems if missing or incomplete documentation is required for regulatory compliance.

Bonus Brief: “Supply Chain Optimization”

To learn more about workflow automation and supply chain optimization, explore the ideas in this “Supply Chain Optimization Brief.”

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