Welcome back to our series of articles, that are taking a look at how business can thrive post-pandemic. Last week I delved into customer segmentation along the supply chain, which, when done correctly, can revolutionise your supply chain processes.
But that’s just one in a myriad of strategies a growing business can employ.
In my previous article, I touched on how different customer segments are also defined by their digital maturity. Today, I’d like to discuss an area OmPrompt has championed for over a decade manual sales order automation.
An efficiently run business comes from its people being able to devote their ability and time to areas in which they excel, which are ultimately for customer benefit. For example, a customer services agent skill comes from their ability to collaborate, listen, and strategically work with customers with the full knowledge of the products and services they’re facilitating.
Note that administrative tasks don’t exist in either of those lists. Operational teams indeed take on time-consuming and overtly manual-heavy tasks as part of the job, but there’s a technology that exists, so they don’t have to.
Sales order automation exists within the arsenal of businesses that want to streamline and speed up their tasks. Tasks necessary to fulfil an order, but don’t actually have to be done by an actual person. This includes entering data, validating them, and manually routing orders to the next step.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence can do all of the above and more, giving skilled employees a businesses’ most valuable resource back – time.
With artificial intelligence, decision-making can be “taught” or “learned” to eliminate simple decision-based tasks.
Why you need to automate your sales order processes
By implementing sales order automation, your business reduces the risk of bottlenecked sales processes resulting from human intervention. This type of response, no longer being needed, improves order cycle times, accuracy and with intelligent monitors and rules, prevents fulfilments errors that will impact OTIF and the customer experience.
You can also lean on technology like robotic process automation (RPA) to help collect customer orders from web portals. Sharing orders via email maybe going out of fashion but it doesn’t reduce the manual effort of order capture.
Overall, sales order automation streamlines the sales cycle to allow for more orders in less time, which means you grow unimpeded. When so many grocery retailers were seeing enormous levels of consumption from shoppers during the early pandemic-panic, OmPrompt were helping major CPG brands absorb the massive increases in demand the retailers were placing on them. For one of our clients, they saw a 48% increase in sales in a single week alone. Scaling that quickly without automation would be a challenge, but with cloud technology it can be done with relatively on fuss.
With that being said, here are OmPrompt’s five significant benefits to automating your manual sales orders.
1. Data capture with reduced risk and cost
Sales order automation lets you extract sales data no matter the format (email, fax, paper, PDF, spreadsheet, EDI, XML and many others) while simultaneously eliminating data entry errors. Because it eliminates a significant amount of human involvement, you reduce the cost of fulfilling an order.
OmPrompt helped increase Asahi’s order accuracy up to 99.8%
2. No more tedious tasks
Automating sales orders frees up time. For customer service teams, tedious administrative tasks are now automatically processed, enabling them to focus on working more with customers and internal teams in the pursuit of stronger customer relationships and improved service performance instead of dotting I’s and crossing T’s. Operations can use this same technology to speed up data extraction, and validation from incoming orders no matter their source or format.
Let’s look at a few scenarios.
- Getting orders
Let’s say a customer generate a PO and posts it to their web portal, and you’re notified via email. OmPrompt extracts the data from said email and uses it to navigate, find, and download the PO and related documents from that customer’s portal. They may of course just email you the order. In which case OmPrompt capture the data from the attachments or the email itself. But either way the data on the order is ready to be captured.
Powerful AI algorithms that use machine learning then extracts header and line item data to eliminate as much data entry as possible and applies validation rules and calculations to ensure only accurate and compliant data enters your ERP.
What if you want to fully the capture of data from the order? That way no-one has to support the extraction process. OmPrompt’s platform has unique zero-touch capabilities that enables the data from orders (and many other supply chain documents) to be captured 100% hand-free. Processes that were traditionally manual can be transformed and digitised overnight.
This means your teams can focus on managing by exceptions instead of 100% of every order being worked on.
3. Fewer complexities and discrepancies
With automatic checks or validations against your ERP data and established workflows, sales order automation allows you to digitise order monitoring, adjustments to order values, and exception processing and to see where processes went wrong to improve them.
It helps manage complex business rules to simplify order entry and fulfilment, so operations workers can quickly identify, notify, and escalate exceptions when needed.
OmPrompt has a repository of configurable rules specifically designed for sales order automation. These rules help standardise, govern, and control, entity determination, data enrichment, business compliance and data creation stages of order capture.
Not only can order data be captured automatically all the validation and transformation steps can be to. We call it ZeroTouch. But the power of the solution goes beyond just the technical compliance of the order. Clients around the world use the Business Rules Engine to bridge gaps in their ERP workflows and improve OTIF performance by governing how the order should be managed in a way that is optimal for the customer and for the supply chain. Before the order even enters the ERP customer service teams can optimise it and prevent downstream fulfilment issues and revenue leakage.
4. Better visibility
As order data is now appearing sooner based on improved data extraction, you get visibility quicker during the order process. Dashboards ensure a virtual checkpoint of orders received and ensure products pass through each stage of the process. Just making it to the end of a supply chain may not be good enough.
Knowing if orders got to the end of the queue through an unexpected path can help eliminate possible issues in the future, without orders going missing or ending up somewhere they shouldn’t be.
Visibility and analytics ensure the order makes it from A to B to Z. Everything from automation performance to the status of the order as it passes through all the different fulfilment check gates in an order-to-cash process. Managers and operations teams can take a high-level view and drill down on what’s gone wrong and take immediate action to remedy the order. Improved visibility helps drive the perfect order.
5. Better customer experience
Evidently, the significant benefit of sales order automation is improved customer experience. Sales order automation lets your workforce get better at core skills, with the time given to serve customers better. Without being weighed down by manual tasks, sales, and service teams can actively play a part in building strategic relationships, while performing jobs that add more intrinsic value to an organisation.
Additionally, automation includes proactive communications to customers such as order acknowledgements and frequent PO status updates. Letting them know their order is essential, providing them with the timely information that helps them make better decisions and enables supply chains to make a big step closer to delivering the Amazon experience.
The pandemic has forced those sitting in the fence of digital transformation to pick a side. If you’re on the wrong side, these articles exist as guides to get you over the line.
We’ve discussed business continuity, risk management, and customer segmentation as building blocks to improve processes in our new normal, a normal, which will only have room for those with agile methodology and a digital-first approach.
Sales order automation gives you time to focus on everything else. That’s why it’s so important.
If you’ve got any sales order automation questions, or are interested in implementing your own automation program, then OmPrompt is here to help.