Businesses have known for years that digital transformation needs to happen. However, many companies have struggled to initiate Digital Transformation in an effective way, and most DT initiatives have failed to fulfill their goals. Here is: prioritizing revenue capture and why sales order management needs to be automated.
Digital transformation: no more delaying.
Historically, a big cause of DT struggles has been a lack of buy-in from the executive level. Without the support of this kind, initiatives tend to flounder. Why? Because DT is less about technology and more about a top-level business strategy that can drive investments and business decisions.
Without this momentum, the best technology in the world will struggle to take hold.
The turbulence of recent months is putting an end to DT sluggishness.
Executives are properly turning their attention to the potential of DT initiatives, and driving their implementation. Organizations that were dabbling in digital transformation are now rushing to prioritize it, acutely aware that the proper prioritization of digital transformation projects can lead to hundreds of millions in savings.
And so what is the broader, executive-level vision that should underpin this newfound executive enthusiasm for DT?
A key part (perhaps the key part) of digital transformation is automation. As Forrester put it, in December of 2019: “The organization of the future depends on automation to create massive efficiencies and new capabilities,” and embraces automation as a way “to unleash human capital to pursue more creative, higher-value goals.”
Where to start with automation?
Automation is at the core of most successful digital transformation projects. This is why we are seeing various forms of AI enjoying massive adoption across multiple industries. But lots of organizations aren’t sure where to start executing on automation-driven digital transformation projects. Which part of the business? What department? What are the goals?
Here’s the answer: start with low risk, a fast time-to-value process that impacts the most important part of your business: revenue.
One of the easiest places to locate such processes is in the supply chain. The supply chain is benefitting from a range of automation and automation-adjacent technologies (including Blockchain). And one element of the supply chain that is ripe for automating is sales order management.
Sales order processing: Ditching the manual.
A large portion of small business owners is still running manual supply chains. In the US alone, 49% of total B2B sales — totaling $7.37 trillion — are still processed manually.
These stats mean that the conversion of purchase orders into sales orders still happens the way it did decades ago: By hand, one by one. Customer service representatives take a purchase order and manually key it in, doing their best not to make a mistake.
That process is terribly inefficient. With manual sales order processing, you see:
- 20-30 minutes of manual entry time per order
- An average cost per order of $9.05
- CSRs spend 2 to 3 hours a day re-entering orders with errors
- The order to cash cycle stretches out to an average of 45 days
Some businesses have tried to improve this dated approach with robotic process automation. But RPA is a hit and miss technology. According to Gartner, 50% or more of RPA implementations fail to deliver sustainable returns on the investment. Instead, by 2022, 80% of organizations that pursue a cloud-first strategy will forego the use of RPA in favor of low-code integration platforms.
What sales order processing needs is true automation.
With real automation, a company can automatically convert purchase orders from its customers into sales orders and directly enters those sales orders into their clients’ ERP systems. This isn’t OCR, which still comes with errors. This is a data extraction technology that lifts the text out of a document with 100% accuracy, removing the need for someone to manually review the document.
With a sales order automation solution, over 80% of orders can be “touchless” – meaning there is zero human involvement in the process of a purchase order turning into an (error-free) sales order. This drastically increases an organization’s capacity to process their customer orders, while substantially shortening the fulfillment time. The outcome? Better revenue, better ROI, and better customer experience.
With this level of sales order automation, you can go from order emailed to shipment in less than 15 minutes. Cost per order falls drastically, to less than a dollar per order. And FTEs who were previously spending hours entering orders can be freed up to focus on increasing the level of customer service and engaging in activities that actually drive revenue.
The future is digitally transformed.
Digital transformation can be a daunting task. It’s hard to know where to begin, and hard to be sure you’ll succeed. This is why starting with sales order automation is smart. It’s an easy-to-understand business process that directly impacts revenue. If you could allocate fewer resources to it, then you will recapture revenue.
Global connectivity means that sluggish and inefficient supply chains hurt everyone. For companies that hesitated to digitize, the end is now.