Implementing a new ERP system is a big deal, as it can significantly transform your business operations with process optimization, cost savings, new revenue opportunities, enhanced security and greater internal collaboration.
But before making a move on a new ERP system, the first and most important action your company should take is a full and complete self-evaluation. No matter the size of your organization, this is an extremely important planning step that should not be skipped.
The goal of this evaluation is to gain a firm, comprehensive understanding of your company’s end-to-end operations along with its present and future needs. This information will be used to select the right ERP system for your organization, as well as guide implementation, employee training and go-live support.
Of all the various components that make up the inner workings of your business, one of the most important processes is order fulfillment. At the end of the day, order fulfillment is how your business makes money—and a good place to drive added efficiency through ERP.
Here are five areas you should consider around order fulfillment before you start evaluating your ERP options.
- The Customer Order Experience
The very first step of an order is, of course, the actual point of sale. This aspect of the point of purchase is critical. If orders are placed via phone, hard copy or fax, or EDI through systems that are not fully integrated, then this means manual data entry. You’ll want to be cognizant of all the purchase documentation involved such as quotes, orders, contracts and invoices.
Conversely, if it is a digital point of sales—whether at an in-store terminal or via a personal computer or mobile device—there’s the question of the software used to capture these transactions and how that information is delivered to various departments for fulfillment.
If your business is accepting sales from all or most of the above, take stock of the percentages of sales taking place at each point and investigate which methods are most popular and why.
Finally, record the type of engagement happening at each point of sale. Note if customers are promised certain shipping dates, quantity discounts or special offers. Also be aware of any existing or potential POS issues such as hardware, software or connectivity challenges.
- Daily, Weekly and Monthly Order Volumes
As you’re reviewing the customer order process, be sure to understand how many orders are received on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. If certain sales days are outperforming others, it’s important to understand which sales days those are and why. If you employ multiple sales teams to represent specific products or services, then you’ll want to understand sales metrics and performance for each team.
This information will help determine what software you’ll need, and how to integrate it with your ERP system to easily compare team-specific data, individual team member performance and optimum day/week performance. Such information will assist in establishing the best way to augment sales throughout your organization.
- What Happens Once Orders are Received
Once orders are placed, you’ll want to know who’s receiving the orders and whether or not those orders must be edited before moving to fulfillment.
If your organization is experiencing any type of order failure, you’ll want to understand what’s happening to cause that failure and at what point the order failed. Take account of the timeframe in which orders are manually entered, and what may prolong or prevent order entry. For example, there may be a holdup with verifying the price quoted at order entry time, a failed credit check, or a credit hold.
These are all the kinds of issues you’ll want your ERP to resolve when you’re evaluating potential systems.
- The Order Fulfillment Process
When orders are successfully entered and forwarded to the appropriate department for fulfillment, you should be aware of how long it will take for the order to ship.
Going back to the original point of sale, if the customer was promised a particular delivery date, you’ll want to verify that your process is fulfilling that promise. If fulfillment isn’t happening as dictated to the customer, then you’ll need to know the cause, be able to address it, and prevent it for future orders.
You’ll want to select an ERP system that handles your order process end-to-end, and connects with other systems in the fulfillment chain to automate and improve upon the fulfillment process as it exists today.
- Customer Buying Habits and Activities
Finally, in addition to capturing purchase, you’ll want to investigate customer purchase habits along with the sales funnels that led them to make the purchase in the first place.
You’ll want a system that actively tracks your best customers and helps you maintain the highest levels of customer care to keep those customers satisfied and coming back for more. And you’ll also want to keep tabs on new customer orders and how those orders compare with existing customer activity.
Depending on your industry, you’ll want to select an ERP with CRM capabilities to capture, maintain and automate engagement and new opportunities with both new and existing customers. Or if the solution doesn’t include CRM capabilities for marketing and sales, you’ll at least want the ERP system to seamlessly connect with the CRM you are using.
Modern ERP has the power to integrate sales, finance, inventory and production departments for optimized inventory levels, sales returns, payment tracking and delivery. It can also help with enhanced sales visibility and order processing efficiency. But it won’t help your business with any of those things until you determine how those departments and processes function in the first place.
Companies come to Navigator when they are working to determine what cloud-based solution can best meet their business challenges and enhance their manufacturing, distribution and retail processes. If you have questions about how to properly evaluate your operations, ERP system options, or the costs and processes involved with system implementation, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 670-5369 and we’ll be happy to help.
To learn more about cloud ERP solutions, download our guide, Understanding Cloud ERP for Non-IT Executives.