Automating Inbound File Processes: The Efficiency and Visibility Hack That Every Shipper Needs

Automation is revolutionizing countless supply chains at the factory and warehouse level—it’s why the news is constantly filled with images of funny-looking robots. But despite all the hype around automation, many companies have not taken full advantage of one of its most intuitive yet beneficial uses in the supply chain: automating inbound file processes.

On the surface, automating data collection and aggregation might sound a lot less exciting than shiny robots. But the efficiency and visibility gains are worth writing home about—not to mention the cost savings. When companies can automatically capture and normalize all the data elements needed for invoice validation and reporting, they save their staff from countless hours of tedious busywork (hours the employees can then dedicate to more meaningful work). In doing so, the shipper also increases billing accuracy, ensuring they never pay a dime more than they need to—and that they have a wealth of accurate, up-to-date data at their fingertips.

Which all begs the question—why aren’t more shippers doing this?

The problem, as is often the case, is a lack of communication. And the onus is on logistics providers to bridge the communication gap and make file process automation what it should be—a smooth and seamless part of a shipper’s day-to-day operations.

When the systems don’t talk, the insights aren’t heard

If you asked most shippers, they’d tell you they have lots of data. The trouble is, a lot of that data is siloed—stuck in the regional facility where it was collected, benefiting almost no one. When companies are using a dozen different enterprise systems across their global operations, none of which talk to one another, aggregating the data promptly becomes an almost impossible task. And gaining visibility into global spend? Forget about it.

To unlock the power of their customers’ data, providers must get those systems talking. It’s not enough to implement a transportation management system (TMS) if that system is only collecting data from a limited number of sources. Shippers need a TMS that fully integrates with all their systems, automatically collects and synthesizes their data, and stores it in an easily accessible central hub of information.

When they have this hub, they can then rely on their provider for reporting and data analysis tools to drill down for insights. But this is only possible if visibility is an automated part of their processes—not something that’s a struggle at every step.

The handshake—or lack thereof—can tell you a lot

While automation ultimately increases visibility, it also has the potential to make shippers feel like they’re relinquishing control. After all, with a manual process, even if it’s slow, at least you can easily assess that the work is being done. But how can you be sure that automated processes are actually happening in the background?

That wariness is justified—because some providers have been lax when it comes to providing the proverbial handshake. To ensure their clients have confidence that the system is working the way it should, providers should be providing confirmation that data has been received.

At CTSI-Global, for example, we have data confirmation and error correction processes baked into our systems. That means our clients can easily quantify their data and get alerted about any missing information before it can become a problem. We know that peace of mind means a lot to our clients, so we take proactive steps to provide it—and we believe every provider worth their salt should be doing the same.

Automation is powerful now—and it’s only going to get better

With automation at the level it’s at now, there’s no reason for companies to still be burdened with manual inbound file processes, regardless of their size or structure. It’s only going to get more powerful over time—making companies faster, smarter, and more profitable as a result.

At CTSI-Global, we’ve been leaders in the world of logistics technology for more than 60 years, and we’re always looking for new ways to make our tools stronger. We handle our clients’ data the same way we handle our own—as efficiently and seamlessly as possible.

Stop the manual madness. Contact us today.

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