Reducing cost with AI-powered procurement automation

2018 - 2019

The challenge

The process for new official vendor requests was fragmented and cumbersome. It involved multiple complex Excel forms without validations and a process which needed to be driven by the requestor, who was usually unaware of all the necessary steps involved. The use of offline forms to collect vendor information caused manual validation issues and multiple data reentries. This inefficient and lengthy process caused low percentages of first-time-right requests. Furthermore, the unguided process caused long lead-times and delayed deliveries of the products and services in demand.

Our solution

We developed an intuitive workbot called Harry which serves as an Enterprise Virtual Assistant to new and established HEINEKEN vendors to assist them with making new procurement orders more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, a new digital business process was created, one which is now orchestrated by the system. Harry is able to track each individual request and ensures that all participants are guided through each step of the process.

Harry helps employees successfully perform each task in the process, including: starting the request, the procurement to process the request in the most efficient way, supporting and guiding the vendors to fill in their data correctly and checking it with sources like DUNS and IBAN, and helping the controllers with the correct data in the correct format.

We introduced an eSignature solution, saving time and paper for vendors. Additionally, Harry has the ‘face’ of a chatbot running as a custom, web-based chat interface that runs on the existing SharePoint and uses the existing Active Directory to identify the users. Harry comes with a likeable avatar character, instantly becoming a virtual colleague everyone can relate to.

For some of the required steps, we have used other user interfaces and channels to offer the most optimal user experience, such as online forms, emails and a secured web portal.

The result

Harry will be launching throughout 2019. The business case of total cost-saving benefits made possible by Harry’s efficiency and easy-to-use interface will become apparent a year after the introduction. Preliminary trials show a strong case for better user experience for all participants with positive reviews from the first use.

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