Industry: Consumer Packaged Goods and Durable Goods
Sales order processing and invoicing for small and mid-sized companies (revenue above $10 million)
Sales order processing involves the receipt of customer purchase orders either manually or via electronic data interchange (EDI), order data verification, and the generation of sales orders in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Invoicing is the verification of shipment and customer-specific pricing information before the generation of invoices. The method of sending customer invoices, either manually or electronically (via EDI or email), is also a part of this process.
Automation in sales order processing and invoicing is essential in the modern-day connected business world. Manual handling of this process is expensive due to the use of employee resources, as well as the cost of errors and omissions. Retailer policies generally do not allow companies to fix errors or omissions beyond 90 days of the shipment date. If any are discovered, fixing such errors or omissions is a significant task.
Here are some critical elements of the automated invoicing process:
- Ensure the price lists are set up accurately in the master data. The price list generally includes permanent customer discounts.
- Verify all (temporary) promotional off-invoice discounts at the time of receipt of purchase orders. The order entry clerk works with the sales team to investigate discrepancies. Companies using a trade promotion management (TPM) system can export temporary promotional discounts directly into the price module of the ERP system. Other order discrepancies are also investigated—for example, incorrect SKUs, out-of-stock items, incorrect pricing, a wrong unit of measure, or orders over credit limits, etc.
- Receive the majority of sales orders via EDI. EDI data files are uploaded automatically at regular intervals into the ERP system to generate sales orders. Without an automated sales order upload into the ERP system, the process becomes time-consuming and inaccurate.
- If the company owns its warehouse, the shipment information transfers seamlessly into the ERP system’s invoicing module. For third-party warehouses (3PLs), a workflow must be established, either via application programming interfaces (APIs) or manual Excel uploads, to import all warehouse movement files into the ERP system. An electronic upload of this information will result in automated invoicing, saving time and promoting accuracy.
- Configure the ERP system to send invoices to customers automatically via EDI (preferably) or email. Manual mailing of invoices creates avoidable costs, and it slows collections due to mail delays. Automation of this process allows more frequent invoicing (at least once a week), thus maxmizing cash flow.
In summary, the absence of automation in sales order processing and invoicing exposes a company to higher costs in terms of employee resources and processing errors. Processing sales orders with inaccurate information can result in unauthorized discounts and subsequent customer deductions. A lack of automation may also result in erroneous lot codes and product/SKU information, causing month-end inventory reconciliation issues or incorrect billing.
Expertise Accelerated streamlines sales order and invoicing processes to reduce costs related to employee time, errors, and omissions. Efficient sales order and invoicing processes offer direct benefits in working capital management.
Haroon Jafree is the Managing Partner at Expertise Accelerated (www.expertiseaccelerated.com). Haroon started his career in public accounting at Pricewaterhouse Coopers and later worked for over 20 years in the consumer-packaged goods industry, both at mid-management and C-suite levels. He has worked for companies ranging from startups to multibillion-dollar brands.
Expertise Accelerated serves consumer packaged goods and durable goods segments of the industry. We augment onsite client resources with trained offshore teams using the latest tools and technology.
At Expertise Accelerated, our goal is to deliver savings to our clients from day one.