Using one order management backend for capturing orders in multiple customer interaction channels is a goal that many SAP customers i talk to daily want to achieve. It increases operational efficiency, customer satisfaction and consistency in in-bound marketing activities. But other than the different channels there are also different interaction models in which orders are created. In this blog i would like to spell out 3 of these models that i have observed in the past: Browse & Search, Fast Order Entry and Batch.
The first model is browse and search. In this model the end user is not on a clear path to create an order but while he researches the product he might as a side-effect put items into a shopping basket or flag them for later purchase. The most prominent example of this is the Web Channel (Web Shop) where the focus is much more in supporting the customers buying decision. In this model the order management application needs to offer its functionalities in a very modular fashion so a list of up- and cross-sells is available in many different customer-facing channels. Key metric i have found to to judge if an order management application can handle this scenario well is the number of parrallel user requests (mostly read-only) that the system can handle.
The second model is the fast order entry model. This is most common in the call center. But also in partner channels or in the web channel customer employees need an ability to place recurring orders or orders with many line items rather quickly and efficiently. In this case the ability to do the order entry with a minimum number of clicks ideally all with the keyboard is critical. Confirmations on anything affecting the order entry task (availability of product in stock, availability of service technician, pricing) need to be immediate and reliable. Processing of functionality not affecting the order capture should be deferred to not stop the end user from entering the next line item as fast as possible. “One order a minute” was a statement from a Beverage company i talked to last week.
The batch input of orders has different challenges. In this case the throughput to get the orders to the database is the key challenge. Secondly i found it important to deal with exceptions and resolve these exceptions effectively. To optimize throughput a lot of the interactive functionality available to a call center agent can be neglected and the checks that are done when capturing an order need to be restructured. For example a credit check for an order of 200 line items does not need to be performed with every line item but only at the start (does the customer have credit at all) and at the end (now that we know the total net value it makes sense to check the credit for the whole thing). For the exception handling efficient mechanisms for monitoring and post-processing the orders must exist.
The SAP Suite 7 supports all of the above models both on the ERP and on the CRM side. Most notable functional improvements in the Suite 7 release have been in the area of fast order entry and product proposals (SAP CRM 7.0 – Fast Order Entry , SAP CRM 7.0 – Sell More with Cross-Sells, Real Time Event Based Recomendations in SAP CRM 7.0). On the browse & search side the provision of ESOA service bundles (What’s new in Order Management). On the batch other then EDI support in both CRM and ERP we had for a long time we have partners who can help with scenarios where orders come in via FAX or other technical channels and get them into SAP quickly and efficiently (See different fax solutions available at http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/ecohub/solutions?query=fax). For order post-processing SAP offers composite apps for both CRM and ERP (see the Procter & Gamble example at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0tX_kThfDY).