Cheese Selections on RPA Cutting Board.

Australian food and beverage manufacturer opts for RPA to slice out inefficiencies in trade spend processing


The challenge: Time-consuming, error-prone trade spend process

Year after year, Consumer Packed Goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers across the globe invest a vast amount of resources in trade promotions management which involves a myriad of activities aimed at publicizing their products to boost consumer demand. The trade spend process, a crucial part of trade promotions management, typically constitutes a lot of backend administrative work and manual intervention, resulting in a significant loss of valuable man hours.

In the case of the Australian food and beverage manufacturer, originally the trade spend process was completely manual. The end-to-end manual process included identifying claims to process, obtaining claim files, reading claim files, identifying the amounts which need to be processed, and finally processing the identified amounts in the Infor M3 platform. All these steps need to be completed for each claim to be processed, making it a very time-consuming and error-prone process.

Two different retailers accounted for the largest volumes of claims The claim files from the two retailers had different templates and attributes. Even within the same retailer’s claim files, there were many differences which resulted in difficulties when the PDF claim files were read. Due to this, employees had to spend a lot of time reading the different claim files and calculating the amounts to be processed. These extractions and calculations also had to be reviewed to ensure accuracy before being processed in the Infor M3 platform.

Each claim file had to be segregated into multiple splits and each split had to be created and processed in the Infor M3 platform. Employees had to repeat this process for all the claim files, making this a very time-consuming activity that was riddled with inaccuracies due to human error.

Our solution: Trade spend process made touch-free with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

At the project assessment stage, Fortude identified that the Australian food and beverage manufacturer’s trade spend process is a complex project given the number of steps and activities it included and the multiple dependencies on the succeeding activities from preceding activities. Therefore, during the designing stage, the trade spend process was broken down into three sub-processes which fulfilled different objectives. The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) approach which was followed for this process consisted of different stages such as Discovery, Designing, Development, Testing, Go Live and Stabilization.
  • During the Discovery stage, the process was discussed at a high-level to identify the scope, cost and time estimates. Based on this, identification proposals were created and agreed upon with the Australian food and beverage manufacturer’s management team. The Fortude team took a deep dive into the business requirements and identified the business processes which needed to be streamlined. Technical requirements and feasibility studies were also conducted. One of the outcomes of this stage was the ‘Process Definition Document’ (PDD) which was used to document the requirement and communicate it to the relevant stakeholders.
  • The architectural design for the automation process was done during the Designing The Fortude team designed it in such a way that it optimized and reduced the processing time, while ensuring that all the business requirements were catered to.
  • The automation solution was developed during the Development stage and was released for internal testing to ensure that the functional and non-functional requirements are handled by the automation solution.
  • The internally tested solution was released for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) during the Testing stage, and the identified issues were fixed and re-tested.
  • Once it was confirmed that all issues were resolved, the solution was deployed in the production environment, and a one-month hyper care period was assigned to further optimize the process based on actual production data and volume. Any issues that arose during this Go Live and Stabilization stage were rectified to ensure the business operations remained uninterrupted. Enhancements and changes to the initial project scope identified by the Australian food and beverage manufacturer during the testing phase, were also incorporated into the solution during the hyper care period.

Business impact: Trade spend automation eliminates 72-day operational time window and boosts accuracy rates to 99%

The Australian food and beverage manufacturer’s original trade spend process was a very complex and time-consuming activity. This end-to-end manual process which previously took approximately 72 man-days per annum has now been fully automated, resulting in significant manpower savings. The manufacturer was also able to release their human resources from mundane, repetitive activities and redirect them towards more value-adding activities. Following Fortude’s automation of this process, the accuracy rate of the previously error-prone trade spend process has risen to 99%, almost negating the likelihood of errors. Extensive summary report outputs, ongoing troubleshooting, and continuous process optimizations have also made life easy for the Australian food and beverage manufacturer’s team. Fortude’s RPA of the trade spend process has been a defining moment in the food and beverage manufacturer’s digital transformation journey. The automation has not only instilled confidence of RPA in the team but has also helped them fast-track the automation of other processes/activities which they did not previously consider as suitable candidates for automation.

Kickstart your automation journey

Fortude has implemented RPA solutions for a multitude of global brands to improve their business processes and boost productivity and efficiency, while lowering overall costs. To learn how Fortude’s RPA solutions can accelerate your digital transformation journey, visit: