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Automating Order Checking and Approval Process with Office 365 Power App

If you are a manufacturer, distributor or assembler you will be taking orders against which to prepare your product for despatch. Incorrect order processing is costly resulting in returned orders, disgruntled customers, skewed stock purchasing decisions and often finished stock that is very difficult to redeploy to another order. This type of finished stock sits in the warehouse until it is eventually written down and is ultimately a loss.

The deepest blow of all is that incorrect order processing and order checking will lose your customers.

Paper orders remain part of the SME’s day to day. The fax has been replaced by the PDF attachment. It is crucial that orders are interpreted correctly and entered into your sales order processing system accurately. Furthermore, it is essential that the necessary checks are made before these sales orders are planned operationally and released into your manufacturing requirements planning system. For most businesses – manual intervention regarding order entry and order checking is inevitable and ensuring there is a strict process for order checking with an audit trail supporting this will reduce the level of human error dramatically.

It is critical that anyone viewing an order that has been entered on to a central system can see whether it has been approved i.e.: passed through the agreed order checking process. There is always the temptation to add an order to a batch or ‘get ahead’ with purchasing materials and whilst meeting the high expectations of your customer is essential – the basic and most important expectation of any customer is that what they receive is what they have ordered – exactly.

If you have Office 365 (except for an email only licence) you will have access to Flow.

Flow is a Power App that will automate and manage an order approval process.

Flow works on the If This Then That protocol. (IFTTT)

If an order is entered, then the ‘that’ is the automation of the checking process.

Example 1
IF Gaynor receives an email and enters the order attached to it:

Then she is automatically prompted to provide a quotation reference if the customer has been provided one prior to order receipt.

Then the order is automatically forwarded to Dave to check the order has been entered correctly regarding the product required and the lead time quoted. The product requirement is approved.

OR

Then the order is automatically forwarded to Dave to check the order has been entered correctly regarding the product required and the lead time quoted. The product is discontinued or has been incorrectly specified or is on an extended lead time.

Then the order is forwarded back to appropriate customer service team.The customer can be contacted with alternatives and an appropriate lead time. The order with agreed adjustments is forwarded to Dave

Then the order forwarded to Cynthia who is responsible for making sure that the price is correct. She will check whether the price entered is the price on the order and whether the price on the order is correct against the price list or the quote provided to the customer. Cynthia can check if the customer is on stop. The price against the order is approved.

OR

Then the order forwarded to Cynthia who is responsible for making sure that the price is correct. She will check whether the price entered is the price on the order and whether the price on the order is correct against the price list or the quote provided to the customer. Cynthia can check if the customer is on stop. The price is not approved.

The order is then forwarded to the appropriate customer service team for investigation. The customer is contacted, and the correct price advised and accepted.

Then the order is forwarded to Cynthia who can approve the revised price.

Then the order is released for manufacturing requirements planning which may be fully automated as is the case in Dynamics 365 Business Central or another efficient MRP or ERP solution.

Example 2

IF Ben takes a telephone order from a customer and enters it:

Then he is automatically prompted to provide a quotation reference if the customer has been provided one prior to order receipt.

Then Flow will generate an email to the customer to confirm the order has been placed with the appropriate terms and conditions Depending on the solution you use for order entry you can cut and paste the detail of what has been ordered into the email, attach a PDF of the order or as is the case with Microsoft Dynamics, a further automation can be set up to provide the details of the order with the email which is automatically generated by Flow.

Then the order is automatically forwarded to Dave to check the order has been entered correctly regarding product required. The product requirement is approved.

Then the order forwarded to Cynthia who is responsible for making sure that the price is correct. She will check whether the price entered is the price on the order and whether the price on the order is correct against the price list or the quote provided to the customer. The price requirement is approved.

Then the order is released for manufacturing requirements planning which may be fully automated as is the case in Dynamics 365 Business Central or another efficient MRP or ERP solution.

 

The above are just examples. With IFTTT technology a Flow can be tailored to suit your process using an Office 365 Power App

As the order ‘flows’ through this automated process an interaction is logged at each stage. This provides a full audit trail.

Consider this:
Gemma takes a call and a customer is asking if an order has been received. Gemma can interrogate the order entry system and identify whether it has been received and approved for manufacture or whether there is a query and put the customer in touch with the team that owns that query.

The point of the audit trail is not just to finger point when something goes wrong but to help businesses identify areas of process weakness that can be addressed to minimise errors in the future. Businesses can protect themselves with proof that a telephone order has been confirmed at the point of order entry back to the customer. Orders are no longer processed unwittingly where the margin is insufficient. If a customer does not pick up on an error at that stage and your Flow generated email states a minimum period to raise a query, then the customer has an obligation to accept the goods they have ordered. The basic rules of the Contract of Sale apply.

Thought for the Day
The audit trail provides better customer service.

Management teams can monitor how efficiently the order processing function is performing and trust the requirements information the order book is giving them. Stock is purchased efficiently, and redundant finished stock is minimised. Orders are delivered correctly meeting the expectations of your customers. Your customer retention improves. Your profit margins increase. Your staff or more efficient.

Your warehouse houses only stock your require.

Flow relies on connectors. Some data sources are easier to pull from than others. Flow is a Microsoft product thus the Dynamics 365 Business Central suite has Flow technology incorporated.
Using Flow with any Microsoft product however SharePoint, SQL Server, Office 365 for example guarantees that Flows will work for your business providing you with stress free automated enhancements to a vast variety of business processes.