The hallmark of a high-performing organization is that they regularly seek ways to improve their customers' ordering capability, their own order fulfilment, invoicing efficiency, deduction handling, payment receipt, and communication with customers as well as internal stakeholders. This if often easier said than done, as the Order-to-Cash process consists of multiple steps, each with its own specific set of disciplines regularly performed by a variety of staff and specialized personnel. It's important to ensure these different, but critically related, steps are not managed in silos but are associated with proven, efficient workflows designed to streamline back office processes.
While there are multiple areas within Order-to-Cash that are worth considering when it comes to streamlining processes, three in particular can be easily addressed within an organization's ERP system, especially if integrated with a robust e-Business solution. These three areas are customer relationship management, invoice automation and automated reporting.
Customer Relationship Management
A good customer relationship management (CRM) system can go a long way in helping an organization better manage their customer and prospect relationships, providing a 360-degree view that enables insight into opportunities, trends and potential warnings. A good CRM system can also help organizations better understand customer needs by continually updating profiles to ensure every new piece of information is captured, whether it's details of a newly placed order or vendor requirements for an upcoming opportunity. The information contained within such a system will also assist the credit department, helping staff to determine proper credit terms and establishing collections guidelines. Response time to sales leads can also result in closing deals faster as well as have a positive impact on cash flow and working capital.
Refining the invoice submission process should be an integral part of any organization's workflow improvement initiative. Robust ERP systems should already have a good invoicing solution built-in, but integrating that system with a centralized e-Business tool to act as a conduit for disparate customer portals and networks can pay significant dividends. Furthermore, knowing when an order has been placed, under what terms and when the invoice should be submitted should be an automated process. Managing this step manually will not only invite error, but will significantly slow down the overall process and increase DSO. It's always best to automated those steps of an organization's workflow that can be automated while leaving any personal or manual intervention for direct, value-added engagement with the customer.
A properly aligned workflow system, such as a cloud-based ERP solution married to an e-Business solution that allows for the tight integration of multiple customer portals, can mean a robust reporting environment. Every stakeholder within each segment of the Order-to-Cash process can benefit from a reporting mechanism that provides insight into their specific area of the business while also highlight the impact other areas may have had on their specific domain. This is designed to provide transparency and visibility into the overall operation, helping each member of various but related teams, as well as leadership, identify processes that require improvement or further refinement.
Order-To-Cash Workflows: Conclusion
CRM, invoice automation and automated reporting are only three of a number of areas within an organization's Order-to-Cash workflow process that can be streamlined to significantly improve customer engagement, revenue and profitability. Further integrating these with an e-Business solution that can correspond with multiple customers with little to no manual intervention will result in a high-performing organization with leading practice behaviors now built in.