Growing global trade flows, particularly to and from Asia, the Middle East and Africa are driving an ever increasing volume of goods which must be moved around the world in shipping containers. Increasing customer demand is an obvious driver but so is the move to more diverse globalised production footprints.
Manufacturers often feel the effects of this on both sides of their supply chains. Firstly on the supplier side as part of production processes (P2P), then on the demand side of the business (O2C) as international orders are fulfilled. With this increase in volume, on both sides, comes the pressure to better manage and optimise the inbound and outbound fulfilment processes for all parties involved. These include the manufacturer themselves, their suppliers, freight forwards, distributors and customers. Ensuring that the potential of each order and container is fully maximised, is a priority. Under-shipping costs money.
Inside manufacturers, we see two frontiers able to influence these processes positively. On the demand side typically it is customer services who have the responsibility of processing sales orders destined for the world’s oceans. On the supply side, it falls to purchasing teams to raise purchase orders on either suppliers or for intercompany movements. We see that each of the teams will follow processes which are defined and logical but often cumbersome, complex and possibly not well documented. Firstly we have to address the fact that people have to enter order information in systems manually, and this information is being supplied to them in different ways and formats (EDI, PDF, Email, Spreadsheets etc.). Secondly, the complexity of the process is mostly determined by the diversity in product lines, delivery locations and trading terms of each party involved:
- Which goods need to move where?
- What are the delivery lead times involved?
- What is the equipment needed to get goods from A to B?
- What are the minimum and maximum requirements for each customer or supplier?
All these factors plus many others make it difficult to reduce operational costs, remove process inefficiencies and deepen collaboration with suppliers and distributors. In addition, it also makes it harder to minimise the room for error which is of particular concern when you reflect on the high value of the goods being shipped.
Standardising with SelfServe
OmPrompt has been looking at how to make it much easier for these orders to be raised and processed in a way which removes the need for people to enter data manually into systems (SAP, Oracle etc.) and gives manufacturers the control and visibility they want and need. Contrary to our normal approach, which is one of embracing data and business process diversity, our product teams have developed a new solution which allows manufacturers to define and impose rules on key trading partners, such as distributors and franchises at the very start of the process.
OmPrompt’s SelfServe solution allows trading partners to self-serve and place orders any time of the day via a web portal. As a user, such as a distributor, begins to place an order SelfServe automatically calculates what they can and cannot do, just as the manufacturer would do as part of a manual process. This occurs before any order is submitted meaning that when it is, it is much easier to manage and is already fully optimised. Manufacturers can define and set rules such as:
- The delivery locations trading partners are allowed
- The products they can order, specific to the trading partner or delivery location
- The minimum / maximum quantity and value of product they are allowed to order
- The minimum / maximum quantity of product per transport asset
- The quantity of goods they can order
- The transport assets (equipment) needed
- Delivery lead times
It allows users to see immediately not only what they can order, but also visually displays how much space, weight or quantity they have left to select before they can submit the order. In doing so, it eliminates the need for email and telephone conversations between the suppliers and trading partners, and it stops teams needing to manually calculate business logic and potentially making errors. The process becomes well defined, controlled, and visible, and supports the manufacturers drive to decrease the costs of moving goods around the world.
SelfServe utilises OmPrompt's advanced rules repository which is managed by the advanced and fully integrated business rules module of the OmPrompt platform. Onboarding of new customers is straightforward, and the manufacturer can easily amend product lists, distribution rules and container load optimisation rules. The output is a fully standardised and validated order, in the manufacturer’s desired format, sent to their ERP without the need for anyone to process it manually.