How to Automate Purchase Order Tracking & Manage By Exception

“Where’s my stuff?” - 

It’s the question supply chain teams are constantly expected to answer.  Increasing consumer expectations for real-time updates and on-time delivery puts immense pressure on buyers and logistics teams to have accurate purchase order status information throughout the PO’s lifecycle – from the moment a PO is created to the moment it lands in inventory. Traditional, manual processes for collecting PO status updates are slow and laborious, and fail to quickly identify exceptions and inventory risks. This article examines the importance of real-time PO tracking and exception management, and how automation technology delivers these critical supply chain updates.

Purchase Order Tracking to Identify Exceptions

Access to accurate purchase order status updates is essential to successful supply chain management, because it allows buyers to weigh current inventory levels against existing orders, projected demand, and items in transit. There are several challenges to PO status tracking to consider:

  • Manual tracking processes are labor-intensive and tedious for supply chain teams, who can spend 40-80% of their time calling and emailing vendors for PO status updates.
  • Even minor delays within supplier production or transportation schedules can significantly impact a company’s ability to fill outbound orders.
  • A single PO may include multiple SKUs that impact inventory, so having SKU-level data is critical to meeting demand and minimizing out-of-stock occurrences. 
  • Fragmented supplier and transportation communication systems often deliver inaccurate or delayed updates, making it nearly impossible to identify exceptions and address time-sensitive issues quickly. 

When PO statuses are provided promptly, buyers and logistics teams can identify exceptions, proactively address inventory risks, and take immediate corrective action. However, when status updates are lacking, and suppliers and transportation vendors fail to meet these standards, it can have grave consequences. Delayed POs include failure to fill customer orders, production shutdowns, and decreased revenue due to canceled orders and lost customers. Therefore, improving processes for tracking POs and identifying exceptions is crucial for today’s supply chain teams. 

Automating PO Tracking and Exception Management

Real-time PO status updates are vital for identifying inventory risks and managing exceptions. Unfortunately, traditional tracking processes fail to provide the necessary details to keep up in today’s fast-paced and demanding market. Automation technologies improve operational efficiency, speed, and accuracy by converting manual tasks to digital systems. Automating PO status collection provides key solutions to get supply chain teams the information they need, with several key benefits:

  • Eliminating tedious tasks with preconfigured update requests to suppliers and transportation providers – freeing time for teams to focus on strategic and revenue-generating activities.
  • Consolidation and standardization of PO status information into a centralized hub - providing a single source of truth for supply chain teams and vendor partners throughout the network. 
  • Immediate alerts to exceptions and inventory risks as they occur – give teams the time to manage exceptions and take corrective actions proactively.

Improving PO visibility to identify and manage exceptions is invaluable to a company’s success in today’s dynamic and volatile supply chain environment. By mapping existing inventory throughout the distribution network against incoming and expected purchase orders, automation allows supply chain teams to go beyond recognizing risks, and moves them to real-time corrective action. With the full range of inventory data consolidated in a single hub, teams can make informed decisions about moving SKUs between distribution centers, rerouting POs, or placing additional expedited orders to meet customer demand. Advanced data analytics can also help teams plan better over time through predictive analysis and in-depth supplier performance evaluation. 

Managing Exceptions with Leverage 

Better exception management demands real-time PO status updates and immediate inventory risk alerts. Leverage delivers the automation solution to do just that. On the front end, Leverage automates PO status collection through system integrations (ERP, API, TMS) and pre-configured outreach to vendors in their preferred channels (email, text, WhatsApp, WeChat, Slack). Leverage overlays existing SKU levels with in-progress POs and SKUs on the backend to create a customized heat map of at-risk inventory. With Leverage, supply chain teams are alerted to exceptions in real-time and given AI-powered suggestions for managing those exceptions – reducing stockouts and increasing on-time in-full customer orders.

When you partner with Leverage, you can count on having the inventory data you need when you need it. You’ll know where items are, when to expect them, and when action needs to be taken to mitigate risks and keep inventory stocked. Leverage gives your supply chain team the tools they need to drive efficiency and hit demand targets easily and seamlessly. 

Contact the experts at Leverage today to learn more about how their advanced automation technology simplifies PO status collection and exception management.

Dylan Adamek

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