These Cases Show How The Right SOP Absorbs Growth Shocks

SOP Absorbs Growth Shocks
One thing that limits growth for companies is the inability to respond in a cost-effective way when order volumes expand significantly. Businesses that experience sudden bursts of growth often cannot keep up with the orders because they lack the capacity to automate the increased volume of work.

The shock that sales order process (SOP) systems experience in such cases are dramatic, instead of profits, increased sales volumes result in fulfillment errors, dropped orders, and insurmountable backlogs, which in turn place greater stresses as costs skyrocket and the net output slows to a trickle. The most efficient solutions integrate sales order process automation that support sustainable growth and reduces the pressure to increase staffing levels.

Increasing Order Volume with Automation

WhenParts Townneeded to respond to just such a situation, they asked Esker for a solution to handle an annual growth rate of forty percent. The outcome demonstrates the shift from a manual system that required direct employee action to process orders that came from disparate sources such as email, fax, and the company website. The solution successfully automated the process and improved customer service performance quality to 99.7% accuracy.

One shortcoming for even the best ERP solutions involves the need to hand-key the information provided by customers through such analog channels as fax machines into the digital system; this was the situation forNational Office Furniture,a business unit of Kimball International, Inc., and the company needed to improve its sales order processing.

The solution for National was sales order automation from Esker, which replaced printed faxes for inbound orders, eliminating paper file storage and drastically reducing consumption of other expensive resources such as print toner. The digitally imaged orders were initially still hand-keyed into the ERP system with accuracy improved to 99.6%. The second phase of integration applied OCR technology to eliminate most of the manual work, sending received orders directly into the ERP system and reducing the cycle time to less than twelve hours in 90% of cases.

Terumo Medical Corporationfaced the challenge of combining high volumes of fax orders with a fast paced EDI stream and overcoming a backlog of orders due to dropped calls. The solution had to combine OCR with an existing ERP system. Like Parts Town and National, Terumo chose a solution that held staff levels constant but freed workers for more product and customer-centric tasks. All three cases allowed the companies to increase the volume of SOP entries while holding staffing levels constant, which significantly increased the returns on investment for each business.

Integrating Order Processing Automation with Your ERP Systems

The above cases demonstrate that one of the most important feature of order automation is the ability to handle growth without increased staffing demands. Additionally, improved systems integration helps companies shift manual data entry from customer service, freeing them up to do more customer-centric tasks.As with others, this was the goal ofBioMérieux; this company sought a cloud-based solution to plug into its existing SAP environment. Order automation now delivers savings of 137,000 Euros per year.

Kärcheris a leader in cleaning equipment supply and receives more than 450 orders a day. Kärcher sought to improve processes, optimize staff and simplify the customer service landscape; they sought a hosted solution that could easily integrate with their current SAP system. The solution resulted in a 30% productivity improvement for the customer service team.

Additional case studies withUnited Pacific IndustriesandChamberlain Groupconfirm the theme with similar outcomes. Companies that replace manual sales order processes with automated solutions achieve integration with their ERP systems, handle larger volumes of orders without increasing staff levels, and liberate the existing staff to serve their customers better; other benefits include shorter order cycles, lower resource costs, and improved order accuracy.

Kasey Schmitz

Kasey is a Senior Marketing Manager at Esker, and oversees Esker's lead generation, demand generation and database teams.

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