Evolving technologies has led to supply chain disruption and there has been a shift in various supply chain functions. One of them is order management automation. The one thing which customers want and that will make your company stand out of the crowd is to deliver the right product, at the right price, at the right time, at the right place and supply the right information during the whole process. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. It is a real challenge to achieve such objectives.
Having an effective order management process in place is one of the keys to achieve these goals. There was a time when customer service departments once took the lead on order management projects. With the changing face of supply chain, leaders are now taking charge as the need to reduce costs, improve the customer experience and drive added value in their organisation increases. Hence, adopting order management automation has become a game changer.
So what are the benefits of using order management automation?
It reduces hard costs
The main feature of automated order management is that it transform traditional, paper-based processes into an electronic workflow. As a result, many hard costs can be reduced by eliminating reliance on paper and equipment needed to manually process sales orders.
The main contributor to hard costs within the supply chain is order entry errors, which are hard to avoid in manual environments — in fact, the average cost to rework an order is $200-250. Hence, automation avoids expensive errors by eliminating the likelihood of human error and by using intelligent technology such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to precisely extract order data.
Today’s advanced technologies go beyond OCR and the data extraction technology used to eradicate manual effort and decrease errors is significantly different compared to five or 10 years ago. In fact, OCR is only one piece of the puzzle since comparing that data to the logic in the Customer’s ERP is arguably where the real value occurs.
It minimizes soft costs
Soft costs are very often overlooked. These are the unquantifiable activities exempt from balance sheets that can have a big impact on supply chain performance. For instance, Customer Service Representatives are used to spend at least 20 percent of their time manually processing orders which is a time-consuming task that generates more costs than the value it creates. In addition to that, the slowdowns created by manual touch points in the supply chain can interfere with meeting customer SLAs, potentially affecting your business reputation and future sales.
Hence, with automation, order data is immediately captured and precisely fed into the supply chain, freeing up customer service representatives to better serve customers and providing more time for employees to coordinate the delivery of goods and eliminate added costs. Besides, as soon as an order is captured, an automated solution ensures compliance with industry or government regulations, further reducing soft costs.
It improves visibility across the board
Due to the increasing complexity of supply chain management, visibility is a necessity for owners to mitigate risk, cut costs and meet or exceed customer SLAs. According to an Aberdeen Group report, “improving internal cross-departmental visibility” and “streamlining processes for easier monitoring and enhanced visibility” are the top two strategies for lightening the pressures of today’s supply chain costs and complexities.
Besides, order management automation provides additional insight via customizable dashboards containing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that allow users to ease daily jobs, monitor performances and react quickly to prevent issues or spot opportunities early. The significance of upstream and downstream visibility is essential for accurate forecasting and insight into the true effectiveness of supply chain operations.
It enhances the customer experience
The customer experience is one of the main focus for supply chain leaders. It is the product of a customer’s journey with a company from beginning to end. In fact, the role of the supply chain is to quickly, efficiently and accurately transport goods to customers. If the delivery of a product is not done effectively, it can put an organization’s relationship, and revenue, with that customer on the line.
It is the responsibility of customer service representatives to improve the customer experience. They need the time to communicate, engage and grow relationships with customers. Hence, one of the best ways to empower customer service representatives to provide an outstanding customer experience is to re-purpose them to more value-added tasks (e.g., resolving customer claims, answering customer questions, etc.). For instance, by removing virtually all low-value tasks from the process, automated order management frees up customer service teams to focus on important customer-centric activities instead of manual data entry – allowing them to provide a remarkable customer experience every time.
Order management automation provides supply chain owners with the right tools to increase operational efficiency and value through cost reduction and good customer experience. It is essential for supply chain leaders to understand that the competitive corporate environment needs to adopt automation to have a competitive edge. Training your employees to understand order management automation is a good way to get started.