Order Control: AFI will take over your tasks!
IInterview with Thomas Rundel, Sales Director and Member of the Executive Board at AFI Solutions GmbH
Mr Rundel, why do SAP users decide to automate the processing of incoming customer orders?
Thomas Rundel: The primary reason for using a digital IT solution is the high effort involved in manually entering customer orders in SAP. By creating orders as automatically and quickly as possible, companies gain time for the bare essentials. The customer experience is also improved because the staff can actively advise and sell along instead of wasting time on data entry and document storage.
There are further motives on top of that, such as the increase of transparency, compliance through audit-proof archiving and end-to-end process documentation as well as protection against loss of knowledge when employees leave the company.
Because of the latest developments, order processing should of course be possible everywhere – even when working from home.
How can processes be optimized and what are the organizational challenges?
In many cases, processes are organized manually in companies which requires a very high effort. It starts with the fact that orders are received via different entry channels, such as e-mail, fax, post or EDI and mostly at different points in the company. These are then managed in personal mailboxes and folders. The assignment to organizational units or persons in charge is also “chaotic”.
When typewriting data from customer orders, concentration errors and transposed digits can hardly be avoided. And when clarifications with the customer become necessary, the persons in charge organize their correspondence in personal mailboxes and folders again.
At the end of the day, no one has an overview of the whole thing and the know-how of how orders are created is often strongly tied to individual persons.
All this can be effected automatically and in a structured way by means of a modern IT solution: entry channels are monitored and harmonized. The customer orders received are processed with the aid of the latest technologies such as optical character recognition, machine learning and robotic process automation and their information for order creation in SAP is made available to the correct organizational unit quickly and free from defects. Assignment to customer material or to existing quotations, contracts or delivery schedules also takes place automatically. The persons in charge are optimally supported by digital assistants during order creation. Clarifications with the customer are carried out directly from SAP and fully documented. In an ideal situation, orders can be created automatically in SAP by the system after they have gone through individual check routines.
How are the savings expressed in terms of numbers?
According to our experience from over 300 customer projects, the use of an AFI solution for processing incoming customer orders can reduce the required time by half. This saved time can be directly reinvested in customer connectivity in the form of active customer advice. In addition to that, there is the option to reduce costs by up to 50 percent. Positive side effect for our planet: you save 100 percent paper.
Do Cloud Services or Managed Services make sense in this context?
I realize that customer orders are the “sacred cows” of the companies. Orders have been placed in foreign hands only reluctantly in the past. But today this is absolutely up-to-date – as long as security and speed are guaranteed.
Due to maximum SAP integration, process support for order checking and recording is provided in the customer’s respective SAP system anyway. But resource-intensive services, such as the intelligent data extraction from customer orders, are now often used as cloud services.
In addition to the best recognition result, this has the benefits that operating or update costs are no longer incurred and that the latest software and technology, such as machine learning, are always employed.
What is your expert advice: what do companies need to consider when implementing a digital solution and how can they best prepare themselves?
The same applies here as for any other successful IT project: set clear, measurable objectives at the start of the project. This is the only way to clearly evaluate your success at the end. The crucial factor is the selection of a communicative and technically suitable project manager. He or she is the guarantor for a successful project. Make sure you have the support of your management and secure your project budget.
Only then you can start with the selection of the appropriate implementation partner with the best software solution. Pay attention to his experience and SAP expertise. The suitable project manager at the implementation partner and a reference customer meeting will substantiate your decision.
We recommend the analysis, simplification and documentation of the target processes during the preliminary stages. A master data check and cleanup also usually effect a miracle. When the project finally kicks off, it is crucial to set up and implement a good project management. This involves defining clear roles, task packages, communication and meetings up to escalation paths.
And stay as close to the solution standard as possible and avoid individual adaptions of the software. This is where you can often save a lot of effort and costs through flexible rethinking. But no worries: our advisors have done this many hundreds of times and will of course support you with their long-term experience.
In short: what do you think? What will be the main topic for sales and customer service over the next twelve months?
The main issue should be to master the Corona crisis safely and successfully. This includes an efficient team that can handle orders confidently and advise customers competently and location-independent – even when working from home. With a modern software solution, the prerequisites for this are quickly and safely created.
Increase customer experience and gain more time for the core business!
Digitize your SAP customer orders and benefit from fast, flexible and up-to-date processing. With our solution, you can rely on state-of-the-art technology and sustainable digitization.