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Now that so many facets of the economy are dependent on shipping, handling, logistics, and distribution, the concept of order management has taken on new importance. Ensuring that orders are processed and fulfilled efficiently has always been a priority. But now it is seen as one of the core competencies of almost every 21st century enterprise.
Whether that is a good or bad thing is irrelevant. What is important is that order management is ubiquitous, and many companies struggle with it. Order management issues fall all along the spectrum, but these are some of the most common and consequential:
Since customers now expect a fast, free, and faultless order process, even small order management issues can have huge consequences. Most enterprises operate in highly competitive markets. And any unsatisfied customer will have alternative options at his disposal the next time he needs to make a purchase. As a result, there is a direct link between order management and the bottom line.
This begs the question – if order management is so important, why do so many enterprises struggle with it? Logic would suggest that companies would make a major effort to perfect the order management process. But anecdotal evidence available from anyone and everyone reveals that botched orders are still a regular occurrence.
The problem is not that companies neglect or ignore improvements to order management. The problem is that they misunderstand the nature of the issue. Order management is just one facet of a much larger priority – data management.
At first, this might seem obvious. But in reality, order management problems often get blamed on a lack of resources or bugs within a system when they are more often caused by problems with the way data is managed and leveraged.
Anyone involved with order management knows that it is a heavily data-driven process. What is less readily understood is that this data comes from sources throughout an enterprise – sales, marketing, accounting, finance etc. And the reason that order management problems are pervasive is because information is not being freely shared between all stakeholders.
To get a better understanding of this overlap, just consider a tool like Salesforce order management. It offers a number of features directly related to the order-to-cash process. But it also integrates data from all departments onto one platform so that everyone is working with the same information at the same time.
In practice, this has a major impact on order management. When marketing is planning a big sale, distribution can ramp up inventory to accommodate a flood of orders. When sales is closing a large deal, the fulfillment requirements can be planned for in advance. And when a new product is headed down the pipeline, accounting can ensure that any payment issues are worked out before launch.
Thinking of order management as data management is a way of incorporating all the relevant data instead of just the data that is most obviously related to distribution. It is also a way to get control over the issues that lead directly to order problems – incorrect, incomplete, or inadequate data.
This is important to understand both for companies trying to improve data management and those trying to embrace data management. Approaching the collection, storage, and analysis of data in a systematic way is not just about managing a valuable asset. It is really about having perspective and gaining insights over an entire company and every part of it. Order management along with a lot of other things all get better when data management becomes a priority.