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The Cost of Manual Processes on your Supply Chain Management and Operations

The costs of manual processes in supply chains are significant and impact everyone through higher costs - from retail and consumer companies, to logistics and warehousing, suppliers, manufacturers, and consumers. One of the main causes of manual processes is the lack of integrated IT systems, which forces employees to handle tasks manually. These manual tasks, such as inventory tracking, managing purchase and sales orders, and other supply chain processes and documentation, are repeatable, low-value tasks that add unnecessary costs and processes, and are prone to errors, delays, and data inconsistencies. For example, employees may receive a purchase order in PDF format and manually enter it into the system. They may need to contact suppliers via phone or email to check stock availability. Additionally, they might manually email 3PL or logistics partners with shipping, delivery, or warehousing information or receive emails with PDF proof of delivery.

These manual processes also lead to increased headcounts, adding to operational costs and wasting valuable time. To address these issues, companies can benefit from automating their supply chain processes, which improves accuracy, efficiency, and reduces costs. Switchboard offers a cloud-based platform that integrates trading partners and their digital systems, eliminating manual processes and optimizing supply chain management and operations. By integrating with your customers, suppliers, and other trading partners via Switchboard, we connect all the different IT systems together so that data for example purchase orders or transport requirements flows automatically and digitally to your trading partner - no manual process or human error!

The costs incurred from manual processes within the supply chain are immense and often go unnoticed by companies. These processes consume significant time and resources, impacting organizations on a global scale.

Manual processes involve labor-intensive activities such as inventory tracking, order fulfillment, documentation, purchasing, and returns processing. These tasks add little value to employees' work and divert their attention from more critical responsibilities. Manual processes often include:

  • Inventory Tracking: Manually entering, tracking, and recording stock levels to maintain accurate inventory records.

  • Order Processing: Processing customer orders by arranging delivery, packaging goods, and sending them off.

  • Documentation: Preparing paperwork, such as invoices, transport or warehousing orders, import/export documents, and other supply chain documents like Advance Shipping Notices, Bills of Materials, etc or manifests, to ensure smooth supply chain flow.

  • Purchasing: Managing purchase orders to meet demand levels or achieve desired inventory balance.

  • Returns Processing: Handling returns efficiently and in accordance with company policies or contractual obligations.

A survey noted by Forbes revealed that 44% of an employee's at small- and medium-sized businesses did not feel highly efficient during the day as large amounts of time were spent on repetitive tasks. These manual processes not only waste valuable time, crushing productivity but also contribute to financial losses for businesses that could be avoided through automation.

The costs of manual processes extend beyond time wasted.

Manual process lead to manual errors, delays, data inconsistencies, and limited analytics capabilities. These errors can result in increased expenses, such as additional headcount costs and longer turnaround times for customers. Data entry errors further complicate matters, leading to mistakes in ordering or shipments.

For instance, sending the wrong-sized truck or going to the wrong warehouse at the wrong time can cost thousands of dollars per error. These errors create unforced losses that companies could easily avoid by streamlining operations through automation.

Integrating the systems that power your supply chains can significantly reduce human error in information entry across systems, emails, and PDFs. Minimizing supply chain errors is a substantial benefit to businesses, as correcting them can be costly.

How are we able to overcome the consequences of manual processes and automate processes?

Switchboard addresses the challenges associated with manual processes by providing an integration platform that connects companies with their trading partners. At Switchboard, we essentially believe that manual processes play a core and central part of supply chain management. As such, manual approaches will fail to continue to meet the status quo for much longer, therefore, Switchboard is addressing this barrier and the pain points in the industry through an integration platform with a modern approach.

Switchboard enables instant and accurate data exchange between supply chain IT systems. By eliminating manual processes for inventory tracking, order fulfillment, and documentation, Switchboard helps businesses save money, time, and resources. The platform also provides improved visibility and control over networks of suppliers and customers, leading to data-driven insights.

To learn more about the value that digital supply chains can bring to your business, get in touch with us today. Streamlining your supply chain management from start to finish is made possible with Switchboard's modern approach and integration platform.

Interested in learning more? Visit or contact us to learn how Switchboard can optimize your supply chain operations.

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