Creating a Goal-Oriented Plan for Sales Order Automation

“What’s measured gets managed” Peter Drucker’s business management adage seems more relevant today than ever before

June 27, 2017

“What’s measured gets managed” Peter Drucker’s business management adage seems more relevant today than ever before. In a world drowning in data and key performance indicators, where technology and automation solutions have become more cost effective and easier to implement, the decision of WHAT to measure and how to best manage it is critical.

When it comes to business process improvement, the first two hurdles faced by most companies is achieving a clear definition of existing processes and defining clear goals up from for that a business process automation initiative should achieve.

It’s easy enough to agree that a process should be faster, easier and cheaper. But how do you measure “faster?” And how cheap enough is “cheaper”? And who decides what is easier?

Sales Order Automation: Start with What You Know

Often trying to envision and map out a process from scratch can be intimidating for process owners. At the same time, one of the biggest hurdles to initiating ANY business process automation project is understanding the existing process in clear enough detail that anyone outside of the process can grasp it.

  • Get input from ALL stakeholders: When mapping out existing sales order processes, make sure to get input from ALL stakeholders in the process. Don’t assume that one person knows all of the nuances, even if it’s a minor step.

  • Identify any and all exceptions: When it comes to process automation, the devil is in the details and all those things that fall outside the lines.

  • Picture it: Whether you rely on sophisticated process mapping tools, basic flowchart tools like Visio or Post-it notes, document your process in a way that are easy to visualize and easy to modify.

Typical steps in a sales order process that should be identified and mapped include:

Reception — routing orders

Extraction — pulling data for the ERP system

Verification — detecting exceptions

Management — approving exceptions

Archival — integrating order data

Analysis — rolling data into metrics

Access — providing access to order status and contacts

With a fundamental understanding of the process as it works today, the next step should be quantifying that process in a way that allows you to establish goals for improvement that can be measured and optimized.

Organizations should not only define their current process in terms of the steps required, but also in terms of costs-and lay the foundation for establishing quantifiable, metric-driven goals.

According to a recent APQC survey, the top three anticipated benefits of sales order automation were improved order accuracy, operational efficiency and workforce efficiency — all drivers of reduced costs. To establish a business case for change and calculate return on investment for a sales order automation initiative, companies need to have a sense of their costs prior to change and need to be able to track and measure improvements.

Industry metrics for sales order processes are well established and can help organizations to benchmark their current costs, while establishing realistic goals for improvement. According to APQC, automated sales order processes are cheaper — $5.00 to $15.00 cheaper per sales order; automated sales order processes are faster — reducing cycle time over 46 percent; and, automated sales order processes consistently lead to improved customer satisfaction.

Speaking of customer satisfaction, organizations need to make sure to look beyond cost savings and efficiency gains to get a big picture view of the business impact of their initiatives. THESE metrics will be the ones that win over your executive sponsors and create champions for your initiative.

According to APQC, top three realized benefits from sales order automation initiatives are improved customer service, improved data capture for analytics purposes, and improved operational efficiency. Established metrics BEFORE and AFTER a sales order automation initiative that speak to these benefits will make the best case for change.

Establish goals that are SMART

While Sales Order Automation projects have become more cost effective and easy to implement, they still require an investment and a commitment of time, money and attention to execute successfully. Measuring return on investment and demonstrating measurable success can not only ensure an ongoing commitment to the initiative, but it can impact how ready the company might be to continue to optimize other processes through automation.

With that in mind, establish clear, measurable, agreed upon goals is key. Ideally you want goals that are SMART:

S - specific, significant, stretching

M - measurable, meaningful, motivational

A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

Goal Forth and Conquer

With clear goals in mind, your team can begin the process of mapping out the journey from the way things used to be to the way they should be, with confidence.

To help you map out your sales order automation journey, identify opportunities for process improvement and automation, contact your Artsyl Technologies representative.

Artsyl Technologies helps organizations to take the pain out of their sales order processes by automating the most inefficient and error-prone tasks—including document handling and data entry. By relying on Artsyl’s docAlpha business digitization platform and OrderAction application, customer service teams can transform scanned paper and digital orders into actionable information that is automatically entered into their ERP system. The result? Shorter cycle times, fewer errors, better process control—and a dramatically improved customer experience.