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Streamlining Order-to-Cash Process in Wholesale Through Automation

3 Mins read

Across domains, workflow automation has emerged as a proven way to improve efficiency and optimize business costs. In this regard, an automated order-to-cash (or O2C) process can positively impact the organization’s revenue model and improve its bottom line. But be it B2B or B2C, few organizations look to improve their O2C process primarily due to its various complications.

According to the IBM Institute of Business Value, an improved O2C process can elevate the company’s performance by up to 83% and reduce its end-to-end process time by 60%. Additionally, an efficient O2C process can improve the company’s liquidity in the middle of any global crisis (like that caused by the COVID-19 pandemic).

During the global pandemic, organizations realized the importance of cash generation and liquidity and reduce costs to survive the economic downturn. How has the O2C process evolved in the post-pandemic phase? For a start, it can reduce the processing cost of every wholesale order and the number of days for each outstanding sales order.

How can an efficient SAP solution help in streamlining and automating the O2C process? Let’s check out.

How SAP can enable O2C automation

Using SAP solutions, organizations can look to streamline and automate their O2C process right from receiving purchase orders to processing outgoing invoices. Here are some of the ways in which an SAP S/4 HANA solution can help in improving O2C processes:

  1. Tracks every sales order and provides complete transparency across all business operations.
  2. Detects any changes made to the sales order by any user.
  3. Monitors the sales lead time from the order placement, order of benefit determination (OBD), to the post goods issue (PGI), and billing stage.
  4. Provides seamless order processing for inbound sales orders in the SAP system.
  5. Enables high-quality process automation that reduces lead time and costs for every order entry and processing.
  6. Improves the cash flow and liquidity by reducing order processing cycle time.

Apart from SAP tools, process mining tools can also be used to optimize the O2C process in wholesale businesses. Before automating the O2C process, process mining enables organizations to identify any problems or bottlenecks in the entire process. Process mining tools can be applied to:

  1. Discover the O2C process.

Process discovery is effective at presenting the actual O2C process (as designed initially) and at identifying the root causes of common O2C problems such as delays in customer order confirmation and fulfillment, delayed payments, and high volume of customer order changes.

  1. Check the process conformance.

Conformance checking is typically applied in the context of service level agreements (SLAs), industry regulations, and even internal policies. Conformance helps organizations identify the process steps that are mandatory or not. For example, O2C steps when wholesalers make a subsidiary sale.

  1. Optimize available resources.

Process mining also helps in optimizing the available resources leading to cost efficiency in the O2C process. Resource optimization helps in knowing “what’s going right?” (Or identify the areas that can be replicated in other areas because they are the smoothest) and “what’s going wrong?” (Or identifying process choke points, redundancies, or sub-par actions).

  1. Optimize the process cycle time.

In some instances, O2C process stages may take a long time to be completed due to a long confirmation process or high technicality. This can lead to order fulfillment delays and frustrated customers. Cycle time optimization during process mining helps in eliminating extra process steps (outside the prescribed workflow) or identifying employees who require additional training.

Next, let us look at how to streamline the O2C process.

How to streamline the O2C automation

Retail organizations cannot optimize their O2C process without integrating two parts of this process, namely, the order management part and the account receivable part. If both these parts work in silos, an efficient O2C process cannot be implemented.

Here are how retail organizations can look to streamline their O2C automation:

  1. Implement process mining to connect the O2C process with other interfacing systems like SAP or any ERP solution. Effectively, process mining enables organizations to visually identify:
    1. “What” is happening at each stage of the O2C process?
    1. “Why” is it happening?
    1. “How” to improve the process?
  1. Deploy Robotic Process Automation (RPA) along with process mining to implement O2C automation quickly.
  2. Monitor the O2C process continuously for further insights. This means after automating the O2C process using RPA, perform process mining to track the results and determine if they are in line with the requirements.
  3. Combine process mining and RPA to keep track of the O2C process and respond to any unplanned change.

Conclusion

An automated and optimized order-to-cash process can be a lifesaver for wholesale retail organizations during uncertain times caused due to pandemics like COVID-19. Automation can help in detecting inefficiencies and keeping the O2C process on track for the best results.

As an experienced SAP technology partner, Groupsoft has leveraged its SAP expertise to transform its retail customers into intelligent enterprises. In addition to providing SAP services for the retail industry, we are enabling them to implement RPA to reduce process costs and time.

To learn how to streamline your O2C process using automation, contact us today.

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About author
Kanchan Sarkar is the veteran and principal of SAP at Groupsoft. He is a technologically savvy person and possesses core skills such as – knowledge of FICO integration activities, enterprise performance management with various large and medium-size businesses in Retail, greenfield implementation of S4 HANA in the Oil and Gas industry, business planning and consolidation with a solid grasp of creating and testing uploading various tools for SAP Implementation.
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