Arrow Lets the Data Flow with Automated Procurement Processes

The Challenge

For more than 75 years, Arrow has been helping customers innovate in many industries around the world. Arrow’s engineers work closely with customers throughout the entire product life cycle, beginning with the initial idea through all stages of development. Arrow’s EMEA Components product management team plays a key role in the process as they help customers determine the components and related costs for innovative new products.

Company specialists in product marketing and procurement, the product management team prepares hundreds of custom proposals per partner, per week on average. The process was mostly manual— special quotes simply didn’t work with Arrow’s existing B2B processes and interfaces, such as EDI and RosettaNet, because these are non-standard requests. In order to find the best source for a particular component, product asset specialists must ask multiple suppliers for quotes.

The process steps were often repetitive across suppliers. For a given request, the same information was provided to each supplier, but was submitted via different methods—email, pdf form or web portal, depending on the supplier’s process. Offers from suppliers were also returned in varying media formats and these had to be manually incorporated into the proposal. Handling suppliers’ invoices was a similar, manually intensive and repetitive data entry process—with a significant volume of several hundreds per day.

The Solution

For Arrow, using Kapow within its Components organization in Central Europe made perfect sense for a number of reasons. Quick and easy implementation was a main advantage. With Kapow best practices as their guide, Arrow was able to implement Kapow avoiding an expensive IT project, a long chain of approvals and having to wait many months or more.

The workflow automation capabilities were another key advantage. In the fast and uncomplicated POC (proof of concept), Kapow was complementary to Arrow’s existing middleware—and unique in the market as it could automate their manual tasks that standard integration tools could not. One example: an Arrow specialist logs into a web portal using credentials to request a quote and evaluates the response delivered via email.

Furthermore, Kapow’s synthetic APIs interface perfectly with Arrow’s existing B2B infrastructure, so no special coding, integration or assistance from IT was needed. Kapow’s automated workflows mimic what users had to do manually to request and process quotes and invoices, regardless of format or location.

The Results

Arrow opted to implement supplier by supplier and because the first several workflow automations were so successful and produced outstanding results that were noticed enterprise- wide. Conservative estimates of three minutes reduced manual effort per order or invoice translate into hundreds of hours/ month saved for Arrow’s Components unit in Central Europe. On a global level, the business impact will be even greater as Arrow has thousands of suppliers worldwide.

In reality, the benefits are far more valuable to Arrow than just time saved. Product asset specialists can now spend their time working closer with customers to help advise them on component options, as well as build stronger relationships with suppliers and do more negotiation. Cut-and-paste errors have been eliminated while faster invoice payments may even yield special discounts.

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