To see how these concepts played out in our project for this client, please visit Streamlining a Sales Order Entry Process.
In thinking about the focus of the case study in this month's e-newsletter, I realized that the emphasis was expediency. Our client was saddled with an out-of-date patchwork of computer programs – which we are working with them to address via a system selection project – but also had a new business opportunity that would overwhelm their people because of process and technology issues, unless something was done. The technology – the patchwork of computer programs – could not be addressed in time to take advantage of this business opportunity.
Sales Rep Order Processing Stopgap
The current process of sales reps sending in orders – via phone, fax, or email – worked for the current lines of business that were sold in large quantities, but would completely fall apart for a large number of small orders. Virtually all the research and validation in the current process was done by the Customer Service reps, once they received the order from the sales reps. Applying this approach to the new business opportunity would bring everything crashing down.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines "stopgap" as "that which closes or fills up an opening or gap." I believe this definition accurately describes the approach we recommended for our client's situation. We knew that an expedient approach was necessary to improve the order taking process – particularly on the research and validation of information – but we knew that changing the order entry system (the patchwork technology) was unrealistic in the short-term. Thus, we moved the lookup and validation processing to the sales reps, via the easy-to-use Excel application described in the case study below, titled Streamlining a Sales Order Entry Process. Read more on automating your business processes.
Balance Automation and Sophistication
We worked closely with the client to define and develop the application, always keeping in mind the trade-offs inherent in any interim solution – balancing the degree of automation and the sophistication of lookups against the scope of the project. I am pleased to report that this application was defined, developed, deployed, and producing benefits within a matter of weeks.
Business ROI comes in various forms – sometimes it's in big projects, like revising overall business processes or implementing a new ERP system. Other times, it's in stopgap projects such as this one. Regardless of size, the common theme is that business ROI is produced when technology is used to help improve processes and enable people to work better – and getting to ROI is what business is all about!
Todd L. Herman
Read more about the benefits of developing an application for your business.