On the morning of the election I listened as Stephen Meyer from Gartner shared findings from a 2016 survey with supply chain officers across the medical device industry.
Stephen explained the mean cost reduction goal of 3.6% across the enterprise was only met with a mean achievement rate of 3.4%, yet the largest share of the survey participants expected a significantly higher spike in cost containment goals this year. The survey reported that only 9% of supply chain folks exceeded their cost reduction goals in recent years. Read more
I listened to Customer Service Director Adrian Posteraro present how MEDRAD, Inc. won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in both 2003 and 2010. This prestigious award is the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence in the U.S. and the only formal recognition of both public and private U.S. organizations performance excellence given by the President of the United States.
Investments in people, process and technology (specifically for order processing) led MEDRAD to a 7.5% increase in customer satisfaction and enabled a 16% growth in revenue. What makes customer satisfactions just as important as revenue growth? Gartner predicts that customer experience is often the main determinant in which company wins a deal. Read more
After the most recent recession, we began to observe a change in the advice coming from some large Analyst firms. The phrase “cash is king” took on greater meaning. Buying organizations is now more likely to be encouraged to extend standard payment terms, as financial markets place value on seeing more cash reserves and longer Days Payable Outstanding (DPO). I bet you know a customer that has extended their terms … Read more
All projects, whether in business or at home, require the proper management to succeed. Take document process automation solutions as an example: Traditionally, solutions were delivered and managed using the Waterfall approach, which is where deliverables are determined upfront and produced according to a fixed sequence. Today, that tradition is changing.
More and more customers are insisting on the Agile methodology, which came about as a solution to the disadvantages of the Waterfall methodology. Instead of sticking to a fixed sequence, Agile is a more fluid process that breaks down solution delivery into smaller incremental stages — allowing resources to be invested in the highest-value features and reducing long-term risks.
And the benefits of Agile aren’t reserved for only software solutions. I recently learned first-hand how taking an Agile approach can facilitate project success. Read more
Companies need to reorganize themselves so their goal in mind is putting customers at the center of what they do. Many companies may talk about this goal but few have actually put in the work to make it happen.
What Is Customer Experience?
I recently spoke with the Vice President (VP) of Supply Chain Management for a manufacturing and distribution company in the Southeast. As a producer of materials for domestic and commercial construction, they have multiple distribution centers and thousands of employees supported by a central ERP system (SAP).
The company is looking to close the competitive gap with some of their key competitors who have lower order processing error rates and better overall profitability. As a result, Esker has been introduced as part of the strategy to improve process efficiency, reduce errors, and enable more focus on sales and service instead of manual processes.
Their VP mentioned that, when he initially heard Esker described as an “OCR” tool that could save CSRs time during data entry, he presumed that was the totality of the benefits. However, he went on to explain that, after learning more about Esker’s Order Processing solution, he is supporting the project due to the windfall of benefits he expects beyond just OCR. Read more
There’s a shift happening in the world of order management. I’ve noticed supply chain titles on calls, meetings and, ultimately, as signatures on contracts for order processing automation. Traditionally, customer service spearheads order management projects, but today it would feel unusual if supply chain was not present.
I approached a number of customers to gain insights regarding the value an order processing solution brings supply chain owners.
Three reasons why supply chain owners should care about order management and the value that an automated solution can bring them.
I keep Dobermans. I came to love the breed for their intelligence, pace, loyalty and quirkiness. In 1890, Karl Doberman, a tax collector in Germany, developed the breed. He needed an imposing yet reliable companion for his day job.
But if you’re looking for a cute lap dog or one that requires less than ten miles of exercise per day, there are better breeds. Plus, do you really want a 90 pound Doberman on your lap?
Best of Breed AP Software Vendors: Do They Exist?
Like dogs, there are many choices when it comes to software vendors/software as a service (SaaS) providers, but as Gartner points out, even in the case of ERP providers it is rare that every module provided is best of breed. I’ve met many architects who are trying to shrink the number of applications in their portfolio, one client is working on dropping from 700 to 300 apps, so I do understand there is a rationale for seeking out a single vendor where possible.
Recently, an existing customer asked if Esker would bid on their accounts payable (AP) project. They trust us and wanted to extend their shared services initiative to include cash application (i.e capturing and matching data from the paper and electronic checks and remittances they receive). Bank fees and internal labor costs can be astronomical for this process.
On the face of it, Esker provides imaging and workflow. Couldn’t we also scan checks/remittance documents and speed up the order-to-cash (O2C) cycle by completing the posting to the right accounts in the ERP? Couldn’t we be the single vendor they had in mind?
Does automating your sales order processing mean reducing headcount?
Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of automating sales order processing is often not to reduce the number of full-time employees. Rather, customer service managers and supply chain leaders are often striving to retain their staff and make them more productive. Instead of reducing headcount, there are many more soft benefits being factored into the business case for sales order automation.
Learn more about Dan Reeve.
This week, I’ve been travelling across North Carolina meeting a number of SAP customers ranging from Furniture Manufacturers to High Tech Life Science Companies. They use Esker as a means to automate sales order entry—freeing up staff to devote more time to customers and also avoid order processing challenges from hitting the supply chain.
The Effects of Order Entry Errors
Although order entry error rates are typically low, according to Gartner, one single error has can have an average cost of $200-$250. By the time the cost of reprocessing an order, issuing credits and shipping the goods back is quantified, these said figures from Gartner can be considered on the low side. One international cheese producer shipped a container of the wrong cheese overseas with little option for returning the product or selling the product at a heavy discount. One keystroke error lead to over $30k striped from the bottom line.
On the flip side, the cost of losing a customer is likely to be far higher than the error costs above. Perhaps you know the cost of acquiring a new customer from experience?
Although our customers have been able to lower error rates (Gartner suggests best in class to be less than 1.6%), I’ve come to understand that the faster an order can be captured and accurately fed into the supply chain the more time customer service, production planners, shipping and third party logistics staffers have to coordinate the delivery of goods and eliminate extra costs—so there is value in giving the supply chain as much visibility as possible. Ultimately allowing companies to:
- Avoid paying overnight shipping fees / rush transportation costs.
- Avoid shipping less than a truck load (LTL).
- Significantly cut overtime costs in warehouse, shipping departments and CSR departments.
- Avoid dragging the sales staff into logistical issues, so that they can to focus on sales.
- More time to move product and change production schedules, if required.
- Provide best in class customer service.
What Does the Customer Want?