Organizations seeking to lower costs, increase efficiency and expand transparency through digital transformation can improve customer service, reduce sales fulfillment cycle times and gain better insights about future trends through sales order process automation. It’s not a secret, and the results aren’t a mystery.
For companies relying on manual O2C processes, days sales outstanding average 58 days, compared to just 33 days for automated processes. Companies relying on manual processes complete orders and ship on time 83% of the time, compared to 97% for automated operations.
The benefits of sales order automation are well documented and backed by repeatable statistics - the devil, however, lies in the details. The success of ANY automation initiative process depends on having a well-executed implementation process, supported by internal stakeholders, executive sponsors and outside implementation partners and technology vendors.
Luckily, it’s not necessary for firms to take any major leaps of faith or reinvent the wheel when it comes to SOP automation implementation. The path to success is well established. With that in mind, here are some tips based on the best practices of successful Artsyl digital transformation platform customers.
Best Practices from Successful Sales Order Automation Customers
With that in mind, here are nine keys to implementation success for Sales Order Automation
1. While it may seem self-evident, the need to understand the sales order process is paramount, and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Begin by documenting your current sales order process. Metrics should include order processing headcount, order volume, data-entry error rate, time required for each stage of the process, and KPIs like days sales outstanding. Understanding these metrics up-front will allow you to measure the ROI of your project, which will not only benefit your sales order team, but provide a roadmap and benchmarks for other process automation initiatives.
2. Understand which systems are in place; identify which tasks they manage successfully and where there are gaps. Are your requirements met with just an intelligent capture system, or do you also need workflow? Do you have existing ERP and enterprise content management systems (ECM) that provide their own workflow components? Are they flexible enough and easy enough to use to meet your needs? Today’s sales order automation solutions range from end-to-end automation to separate capture, workflow systems and portals that enhance existing ERP/ECM systems. Identify all the systems that store sales order data, documents and metrics and identify how these systems need to interact with the systems/tools you’ll use to extract data from your sales orders.
3. Identify your organization’s order entry points. How are sales orders generated/received? What format(s) are they created/generated in? What is the most efficient way to capture data, file documents and extract data for reporting and analysis? Are sales orders captured for data extract and handling in batches? How frequently are non-order documents encountered in the batch?
4. You will need to define a process for the separation of documents. Intelligent separation of documents based on their contents can be performed; if non-related documents are frequently encountered in the mix, you may need to ensure that your solution is configured to identify each document type and inform the workflow system of the downstream processing requirements.
5. Identify the data fields for capture and validation. Focus on what is required to achieve your goals; additional “nice to have” fields will make the solution more expensive to maintain.
6. Identify where images will be stored and the policy for image retention.
7. Be prepared to provide a copy of your customer master data and a representational set of a few hundred order images to the solution vendor. This will facilitate configuration and improve capture quality.
8. Create an implementation plan with the solution vendor. Minimize the disruption to sales order processing staff and ensure that the implementation does not prevent them from meeting their daily responsibilities. Schedule appropriate training and plan for an adoption period with support resources (your staff or the solution provider’s) to help them and promptly address their questions and arising issues.
9. Periodically measure the performance of the automated process and compare it to the pre-automation metrics. This will allow you to set NEW goals for further process optimization and allow you to cost justify further investments in process automation within finance and throughout the organization.
For more information about Sales Order Automation and Intelligent Capture, visit Artsyl Technologies online