Companies seeking to embrace digital transformation to boost customer service while improving financial KPIs need look no further than the systems and processes they rely on today to process and fulfill customer orders. A quick look at the latest statistics from a recent global survey reveals ample room for improvement in at least one key metric for sales order processing—Days Sales Outstanding (DSO).
According to a 2017 survey conducted by Euler Hermes of 27,000 companies worldwide, the average days sales outstanding for respondents across industries was 64 days. A quarter of companies surveyed waited 88 days or longer, with 9 percent reporting an average DSO of 120 days or more.
Performance among those companies varied according to industry, but the single greatest determining factor regardless of company size or industry was the process and degree of automation adopted to support the order to cash process.
In the order-to-cash process, customer order management is a key activity. An order accurately processed and within the promised time means a satisfied customer who will pay its invoice on time.
With that in mind, here are five tips to optimize order processing and begin a digital transformation journey that can extend to other processes and departments throughout your organization.
Keeping track of customer orders can be a real challenge. One factor adding to that complexity are the multiple conduits by which customers can submit orders, including email, telephone, Web site, Fax or EDI. For many companies, manually aggregating these orders is the first hurdle to achieving timely, comprehensive visibility to the process and the data, which has business value beyond supporting the transaction.
The lack of timely data and process workflow visibility affects customer satisfaction, restricts service productivity and, ultimately, impacts overall company performance. Consolidating incoming orders across multiple channels is easily achievable for companies that rely on intelligent capture solutions and digital transformation platforms like docAlpha from Artsyl Technologies. These systems and solutions are designed to capture customer orders from multiple channels automatically and extract relevant transaction data to drive further process automation.
One potential bottleneck in the sales order process can be failing to send an order to the right person to process it. Routing orders from one department to another or from one site to another may lead to errors, losses, delays, and a total lack of visibility and traceability. These types of unproductive tasks often go unrecognized or ignored, even though they can be solved with easily with automation.
Using sales order automation applications like OrderAction from Artsyl Technologies, companies can apply business rules to the data they have extracted from sales order documents for routing freeing up time to better serve customers.
Entering order information into an ERP system is an inefficient process with very little added value—one that is also prone to costly errors. When it comes to sales orders, the smallest data entry error can have undesired consequences that negatively impact order cycle times and customer satisfaction.
Automating the process makes order entry secure and prevents errors by guiding the user with automatic input, performing real-time data consistency checks, supporting access to ERP resources and integrating with the ERP to manage alerts. Teams can focus on high value-added tasks to verify the accuracy of order data or more effectively manage their customer relationships.
Time saved on entering customer data can be reallocated to more pro-active and value-added tasks like verifying the accuracy of a customer’s order and handling exceptions. This means communicating directly with the customer to clarify the order or to adjust it so it meets the actual need. Automating the process of handling customer orders increases a company’s ability to satisfy its customers and directly boosts sales.
Automating any process is only the first step of improvement. Optimization comes by measuring results, analyzing them and developing and executing an ongoing action plan. By relying on sales order automation solutions that begin by intelligently extracting data from order documents, companies can translate their documents into data and that date into insights about their processes and their performance.
This approach can become the first step in an ongoing process improvement cycle that can begin with sales orders and extend to other processes and departments within an organization.