The first stage of the fulfillment cycle is the way in which your business processes a customer’s order. How your business handles orders has a major impact on customer service, from encouraging initial interest to prompting repeat business. Factors such as price, quality of product or service, range of goods, stock availability are vital to achieving sales in the first place, but a responsive, fully automated order-fulfillment procedure plays a key part in overall customer satisfaction.
Improving how you handle orders
You need to know exactly how well your business deals with order handling before you can make improvements. You should evaluate how orders are processed by doing the following:
- Identify the connections between sales, planning, purchasing, etc. Flow charts and activity diagrams can help you map out your processes and highlight the links. There are simple software tools like (Microsoft Visio) available to help you do this.
- Consider linking your systems to those of your customers if you operate in a business-to-business environment. Find out what systems they use and determine if yours are compatible.
- Ask staff for their input – they may be able to help you identify problems and solutions.
- Encourage customers to give you feedback on how their orders were handled.
Automating your Dynamics AX system can help achieve the speed and efficiency you need from order processing. It brings together all departments that handle the order, from website or sales reps to warehouse staff. Tie in your website with other facets of your business, such as planning, manufacturing and distribution. Connect your suppliers and customers to your Dynamics AX 2012 system. Integrate your sales order processing closely to your website, and when customer orders arrive in your system they can be automated, and even transformed into purchase orders to your suppliers. With this they can benefit from more timely, accurate order information, with invoices sent and processed automatically.
Automating your internal systems may speed up order processing, but remember that some customers may still prefer personal interaction to maintain the customer service experience.
Ensuring that customer orders are delivered quickly and efficiently is integral to any e-commerce service. Delivering what you promised relies on seamless interaction between your business processes and the actual fulfillment service that you have. For those products requiring a physical delivery, the issues associated with conventional logistics need to be addressed alongside the technology needed to manage the process.
Dynamics AX 2012 do have many processes that can be automated, and many companies have already done this. Pretty much can be done without making customizations or choosing an ISV solution.
Let’s say we have the following simplified process:
I will not go through the recommended setup for automation, because this varies for very implementation
The first place we can automate is on the generation of confirmation. You can find the menu item under Sales and Marketing\Periodic\Sales Update\”Sales order confirmation”
Use the late selection option to make sure that the query specified is used every time the batch is executed, and also use the print management destination to control the printout or destination of the form letter. Then set the job into batch, and let it execute once a day, or as often as required.
When the shipping date is closing, then release the picking route. You have several options here, but I’ll focus on the simple one. You can find the menu item under Sales and Marketing\Periodic\Sales Update\”Picking list”.
In addition to what is described on the confirmation, make sure that only confirmed sales orders are sent to picking. Also, if backorder handling is allowed, then enable the “Reduce quantity” so that the picking route is only released of items you have on hand. There is another option under the “other”-tab, called “Reservation”, that I would recommend checking that it is enabled, because then the items will be reserved against the order. When the picking route is printed, then pick the items. Put it into batch, and let it run as often as required.
Picking route registration (The manual step)
The next step in the process is that actual picking. Some companies choose to release picking routes, where the items already transactional picked, and this is a setup on the parameters. But I prefer and recommend the picking route registration screen, available as a menu item under “Sales and Marketing”\Journals\Sales orders\”Picking list registration“.
In AX 2012 the picking route can be printed with a barcode version of the picking route id, that can be scanned into the picking route field on top. The next step is to finalize the picking, and make the necessary adjustments on quantity, dimensions (like serial, batch, pallet id etc), and then use the “UpdatesàUpdate all/selected” to actually pick the items, and therefore also updating the on hand values correctly.
Packing slip update
The next step in the automated process is the packing slip update, that is available under “Sales and Marketing\Periodic\Sales update\”Packing slip”.
Choose only to packing slip update the picking sales orders, and print out the packing slip either send it automatically on email as a PDF to the customer, or even electronically as a ASN/XML to the customer. Depending on how the process is, the packing slip batch job can automatically be printed or sent electronically.
The last step in this automation of sales order processing is the invoicing. The menu item is placed at “Accounts receivable\Periodic\Sales Update\Invoice“.
Set the Quantity parameter to “Packing slip”, and the invoicing will invoice all packing slip updated sales orders. Set up the printout and use the print management destination setup to control where and what should happen with the form letter. Set up the batch-job to run periodically for automation.
There are many more options available in Dynamics AX 2012, for consolidation of picking, packing and invoicing, but my main message is to start to look into automating these processes to speed up, and reduce the time spent on routine tasks. Let your Dynamics AX 2012 be the engine that pulls the processes, instead of valuable people that needs to push the processes. This will free up time to other important tasks.
What I also want to mention is that when the requirements to automation increases, and you cannot find the solution to your problem in the standard functionality of Dynamics AX, then please evaluate the To-Increase Warehouse Management and Distribution. Here the automation has been lifted a few steps to support mass transactional processes and the integration to warehouse equipment and to freight forwarders.