Sunday, June 16, 2013

4 Key Factors in Sales Order Process Automation for Office Equipment Dealers

We're so fortunate to have Rick Backus  (Cybercon Services) as a Print4Pay Hotel Sponsor/member. Rick is the guru of Business Process Optimization and we as Dealers should look no further than our own business process for sales orders.  It's the old "Eat what you Cook" and if more of us had SOPA in place, well.....we can sell the heck out of it.  This month please welcome back Ricoh Backus with:

Sales Order Process Automation

During my years of consulting for office technology resellers many conversations have led to the topic of equipment order processing and how to make it more efficient.  Management is frequently frustrated with the time it takes to fulfill an order, the lost paperwork, the lack of tracking and control not to mention the seemingly endless requests from sales reps about when their orders will be delivered and will it count towards this month’s quota.

 While most ERP systems have some level of order staging which will produce reports related to order status they are limited to the information they have access to.  How do you notify all the relevant users when the order delivery date changes?  How many times has the “sticky note” that someone attached to a document with the new buyout figure on it mysteriously vanished?  And why was that demo machine at the prospects location for over two months?  The list goes on and it is not limited to office technology resellers but that is our focus today.

 There are many factors impacting the overall process are but some of the more important ones are:

1)     Size and sales volume of the organization.

2)     Level of attention paid to all the details of the process (credit, leasing, inventory, scheduling, delivery, etc.).  Not everyone is as in tune with this as you might expect, which is a separate issue for another time.

3)     Keeping all the relevant parties (sales, service, admin, management & customers) up to date on the status and scheduling of the order.

4)     Capturing and tracking the myriad of associated documents from numerous sources, several of which require signatures.

 After many days of identifying, questioning and documenting processes, developing an understanding of the nuances of the sales order process as well as the needs of both users and management I came up with a answer to the problem.

The solution I developed uses Microsoft SharePoint as the core product which binds everything together.  Most companies are already using SharePoint to some extent so it makes sense from a cost standpoint.  And even if you are not the Foundation versions are no-cost alternatives to get you started.  Of course you have less functionality but mainly with reporting and Excel services.

SharePoint has all the capabilities we need to build this application.  Content management, retention policies, security, device accessibility, versioning, annotation, calendaring, notification and workflow.  It integrates easily with the rest of the Office suite which again, nearly everyone already has.  Finally, there are a myriad of products out there all of which have connectors to SharePoint, making integration with other applications possible with “out-of–the-box” configuration and little to no coding.

Here are some screenshots of a typical sales order record in SharePoint.


The date and status fields insure full process compliance, monitoring task intervals and drive revenue projections.

While manual updates are possible and necessary in certain cases the majority of these fields are updated automatically based on status updates, task completion and document captures.

As time goes by and data accumulates we can analyze it to develop benchmarks for task timelines and employ those standards to measure performance of the sales, admin, service and warehouse staffs during order fulfillment.  Ultimately getting orders processed, delivered and invoiced faster.

We also have a fully, text-searchable and accessible central archive of all the documents, emails, forms and other files associated with the record that were accumulated (many automatically from OMD and eAutomate or tablets in the field) throughout the order process instead of waiting to file them at the end of the process.

I am confident this application will resolve several business issues related to your sales order processing.   Contact me via email if you would like to receive more detail on this solution.
=Good Selling

1 comment:

Asis poddar said...

Equipment leasing is effectively a lon which the lender buys and owns equipment and then "rents" it to a business

at a flat monthly rate. At the end of the lease, the business may purchase the equipment for a fixed predetermined figure (or fair market value) or return it