How your business processes sales orders directly affects your Order to Cash process and ultimately drives your overall profitability and customer satisfaction.
Many companies continue to work with complex, fragmented order management processes with multiple, disparate order capture and fulfillment systems. Some organizations are taking steps towards optimization by using ERP systems to handle order processing, but this is only the beginning. There are many other solutions beyond ERP that businesses can utilize to further the automation of their operation.
Working in these types of environments makes it difficult to get a single view or complete picture of your sales order processing cycle. If your organization is faced with the below challenges, it may be time to optimize how your business processes sales orders.
Sales Order Processing Challenges
#1: Too Many Systems
For many businesses, a high level of complexity exists when taking and fulfilling orders. This complexity can have several causes, including the use of multiple order capture and fulfillment legacy systems that many companies have in place. The more systems being used, the greater the chance of error, inefficiency, loss of sales, inaccuracy of sales, and lower revenue.
#2: Low Visibility
At every manual touch point in sales order processing, companies lose the transparency that provides a view of daily activities for effective order management. This lack of visibility leads to difficulties in budgeting, planning and forecasting, and the inability to identify and prioritize urgent orders. Organizations are unable to address and respond to top customer needs and fluctuating order volumes and, therefore, cannot ship orders quickly or be more proactive, losing a significant competitive edge.
#3: Human Error
Since multiple touch points are involved in manually processing orders, an elevated risk of errors are present. Such errors can include incorrect data entry and missing documents. Reproducing a single order due to error or document loss can cost as much as $250 and can cause delays in order fulfillment. Miscommunication with your production or service delivery lines due to order processing errors can also result in extra shipping cost, wasted materials, credit notes, and disgruntled customers.
#4: Lengthy Processing Times & Higher Processing Costs
When manual processes of keying-in orders and physically handling documents are still in place, the Order to Cash cycle is constantly put on hold. Other than the human error aspect of sales order processing, there are still other considerations that can add processing times and costs.
There is an inflated cost of processing each order when documents need to be printed before manually keying into an application. Backlogs of orders awaiting manual processing and a mountain of paper to be processed and archived can cause delays in order cycle time. Not to mention, maintaining the infrastructure for printers and fax machines can be expensive as well.
#5: Customer Dissatisfaction
A key area for businesses is understanding your customer and managing that customer’s demands effectively. Accurately capturing your customer’s orders is critical to effective order fulfillment and management. With a multi order channel system, it is difficult to capture customer purchase data to forecast future product demand.
To meet mounting customer expectations, businesses across all industries must increase their on-time deliveries, enhance the consistency and accuracy of their promises to customers, and manage their responsibilities to key customers. Manual processes lack the ability to accurately promise dates based on fulfillment planning lead times and estimates. Additionally, long response times to customer inquiries and failing to actually connect with your customers can cause reduced customer confidence and loss of repeat business.
Success in order management and fulfillment relies on the ability to make quick decisions and the continuous monitoring of the impact of those decisions at all levels of your organization. This can be achieved through Sales Order Automation.