Technology / Analyzing Business Processes For An Enterprise System
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Autor: anton 25 November 2010
Words: 3613 | Pages: 15
1. Diagram the order process. What are the outputs of this process?
The ordering process begins with the decision of the customer to submit their order simply by either calling, faxing or mailing their order information. When a customer calls in their order, the customer service representatives takes down pertinent customer information, which includes the customer's name, billing and shipping address, product number and description, quantity and shipping instructions. While taking down the order, the customer service representative access the company's order entry system where inventory checks are conducted as well as credit checks are processed. In addition, delivery options are advised to the customer. Here the customer decides if he/she would like a rush delivery, a 4-5 business day delivery, an 8-10 business days delivery, or a 10+ days delivery. If the customer decides on a rush delivery, the warehouse located closest to the shipping address is notified as to the availability of the product and the delivery instructions. If that particular warehouse does not have the product available, other warehouses are contacted. If the customer decides on 8-10 days in the future for delivery, the order is held for several days before being processed. If the customer decided on a 10+ days in the future for delivery, the order is held for processing and treated as a back order when it is input into the order entry system. The order entry system generates back order reports daily so customer service representatives are able to keep track of orders that are not necessarily rush orders. Based on this information, once the customer decides on a delivery time the order information is confirmed with the customer.
Once the customer information and order is entered into the system, the customer number is automatically generated if the customer is an existing customer or a new number if the customer is a new customer. From the customer service representative department, the order is then filtered to the credit department where credit holds are forwarded. However, If the customer does not have credit hold on the account, the shipment is automatically sent out to the customer and payment is received upon delivery. In the even a credit hold is apparent, the credit department is forward the information and requests payment from the customer prior to delivery. Once payment has been received, the product is ready to be shipped for prompt delivery. At this point, the order has been completed..
The inputs of this order process include the customer information, the address information, delivery information, shipping instructions, product numbers and descriptions.
The outputs of this order process include the product being shipped off to the client, the clientÐ²Ð‚â„¢s information being sent to the credit department because of a credit hold and the shipping information being sent to warehouses to make sure that the product is in stock and available to meet the delivery deadline(s).
[SEE ATTACHMENT 1 FOR ORDER PROCESS FLOWCHART]
2. What other major business processes outside of the order process are likely to be impacted by the order process? Explain.
Business order processes are ever-changing and there a number of unforeseen circumstances which may occur randomly immediately affecting the order process. Some of the major business processes outside of the order process that are likely to be impacted by the order process may include missing products that are not included in the inventory listed on the networked computers; or different departments using different product numbers and descriptions and possibly transposing numbers when input in the computer system; or the only warehouse that has the product available is unable to make the rush shipment; or there is a restructure in management and staff and the new employees in particular departments have not been trained sufficiently and/or timely causing chaos in the ordering processes; or orders that are set out for 10+ day in the future as back orders are no longer available because the product is discontinued and there is no more supply to make the entire order; or the automatic credit checks are unreliable because clients with the same name, but different customer numbers are switched causing confusion with the order.
Things always happen. This is why people, especially businesses, always need to be prepared and have an efficient process structure within the company. When products are in offsite warehouses, there is no possible way of knowing whatÐ²Ð‚â„¢s onsite and whatÐ²Ð‚â„¢s not onsite. With that being said, with other departments using different numbers and product descriptions, the search becomes even more complicated. In addition, with customer service representatives and warehouse employees keying in numbers and information about products and customers, there is a high possibility that letters and numbers get transposed or even dropped off. In this event, the search becomes even longer and harder.
The customer service representativeÐ²Ð‚â„¢s first priority is always the customer. Whatever the customer wants, ideally, the customer gets. However, when the customer service representative conducts the search with respect to locating the desired product and shipping the product at the desired shipping address within the desired delivery time sometimes becomes a burden. There are often times where the closest warehouse does not have the requested product in stock and other warehouse locations need to be conducted. In that event, the customer service representative is in the high hopes that that warehouse is able to deliver the product(s) on time; however, there are times where the further warehouse is the one that has the inventory but is only able to deliver the product one day later than request. When companies are unable to deliver on time as requested, the company loses the reputation it has built for being able to deliver on time, etc. which then results in a loss of business, customers and profits. It should be a rule of thumb that all of the offsite warehouses be fully stocked of the most commonly used products or can utilize its computer systems and sales reports in order to transmit orders to restock products directly to the suppliers and/or distributors. With this process in place, the products will be able to be shipped in a timely manner and each offsite warehouse will have the product, without the scrambling of trying to find the product elsewhere.
Since business is ever-changing, the company constantly undergoes restructuring from time to time. This basically means that some employees move up while others move around.
A problem with the restructuring is that employees who have not been trained in the area that they have been newly place are open to errors. With different product numbers in different departments, the newly placed employee will have a harder time trying to locate requested products, which will them trickle down to the customer who may become irritated in the delay of service. The customer service representative, especially, is the first line of defense when it comes to customers. Customers communicate directly with the customer service representative and whatever the customers want; the representative tries its hardest to comply. Employees need to be fully trained in all aspects of their jobs. Even if there is a restructuring of the company, workers who have previously worked the department/job should be able to act as a consultant for the newly placed employee so that there is an ease of transition. This will decrease the amount of delay time and the newly placed employee can feel more confident about the new position while the other employee can feel a sort of supervisory role while acting as a consulting to the other employee. This will form camaraderie between employees, which will help and not hurt the company in the long run and help improve employee morale as a result of the restructure.
In the business world, time is money. When customers place orders that are set out for 10+ day in the future as back orders there are instances where the products are no longer available because the product is discontinued and there is no more supply to make the entire order. In this event, the customer service representative or the distribution and/or manufacturing departments should pay close attention when production companies and/or suppliers are thinking of deeming a product discontinued because of the low sales, etc. In this event, forecasting would provide useful for the company. If the product is only ordered once in a blue moon, the product should be flagged for possible discontinuation so that customers that buy the product are able to prepare accordingly and both the company and the customer can find a replacement product which is doing better and not at such a high risk of discontinuation.
There is always a high possibility of customers having the same name, especially with names like Joe Smith, or Jane Doe. With respect to the automatic credit checks, they may be unreliable because clients with the same name, but different customer numbers may be switched causing confusion with the order. Input error could be the cause of the problem and therefore causing the confusion or both of these customers order almost the same products that itÐ²Ð‚â„¢s pretty difficult to distinguish between the two or three unless there were other qualifying distinguishers to determine which client requested the particular product and which client obviously did not.
3. How could this process be made more efficient?
The ways in which this order process could be made more efficient is to allow the current order system connect to local warehouses automatically so that whenever the customer service representative is inputting information into the system, he or she can automatically check to see if the local warehouse carries the product. If not, there would be an option for the customer service representative to check other warehouses and possible warehouses with the product would be presented in the same search as the local search. Also, deliveries should be considered as rush/priorities or not so that itÐ²Ð‚â„¢s clearer in the order entry system to read. Adding orders to the back order system will only cause problems because orders may be forgotten and products may be out of stock during the time of delivery. Better preparing oneself is better than not being prepared at all. In addition, to help move along the process of the order, when credit checks are automatically conducted, there should be a screen that pops up or a red flag is waived when the customer name and/or number is input into the system. This way the order can be paid immediately by the customer and there would be no delays in processing. The credit department would still receive pertinent information and would be able to contact the customer if necessary. Or, the customer service representative could transfer the call and order to the credit department once he/she is done with the input process of the order. In addition, all order should be input initially without having to think twice about it. This will ensure that the customer gets the order and the company is on top of the orders and supply at the warehouses. Lastly, all product descriptions and numbers should match one another at warehouses, departments of the company, etc. This will eliminate the chaos in trying to locate products and having to do double duty when it comes to naming products and numbering them. After all, time is money and by making the numbers and descriptions universal and standard, the company will save both.
[SEE ATTACHMENT 2 FOR NEW ORDER PROCESS DIAGRAM]
4. Should your company use enterprise software for its new order process? Examine the enterprise software offered by SAP and Oracle by visiting these companiesÐ²Ð‚â„¢ Web sites.
In order to stay competitive and strategic, businesses must do all they can to move their company forward. This includes taking advantage of business solutions that are available for different sized companies. Enterprise software would be useful for my firm because it would assist in streamlining important customer information to the rest of the departments. The information may affect other departments directly or indirectly. By sharing information company-wide, automatically, the company can save time and money by not losing any time or paperwork. The systems put in place will provide other departments to work efficiently and to the satisfaction of the customer. With respect to products, the warehouses will be well informed of products that are needed in a timely manner and they can inform the factories when they need products to be replenished. In addition, accounting and credit departments will be informed when a customer has a credit hold on their account or their account is in good standing. This is useful so that customer order will not be held up in processing because their account was on hold for credit and payment purposes. Those issues could be solved faster with the enterprise system in place. Two of the world's major companies, SAP and Oracle, have organized businesses to another level. However, it has been stated that SAP and Oracle products compliment one another, rather than offer direct substitutes for each product.
With respect to SAP's enterprise system, some of it's most useful products include:
"customer relationship management (CRM) - helps companies acquire and retain customers, gain deep marketing and customer insight, and align organization on customer-focused strategies; product lifecycle management (PLM) - helps manufacturers with a single source of all product-related information necessary for collaborating with business partners and supporting product lines; supply chain management (SCM) - helps companies enhance operational flexibility across global enterprises and provide real-time visibility for customers and suppliers; and supplier relationship management (SRM) - customers can collaborate closely with suppliers and integrate sourcing processes with applications throughout the enterprise to enhance transparency and lower costs." (SAP, 2007)
SAP's main ideas include that there is no one enterprise system which fits all businesses. With this in mind, SAP focuses on each industry and developed programs on an industry-specific basis so that small, medium and large business could choose from an array of business suites that fit their specific business needs and not that of other businesses.
On the other hand, with respect to Oracle's enterprise system, Oracle also focuses on the business, no matter what its size, and focuses on the disconnect between departments, management, planning, etc. Rather than having a multitude of programs available in one company to serve its purposes, Oracle developed programs that integrate all those programs under "a single umbrella, connecting financial and operational decisions and activities with transactional systems to form a comprehensive management picture." (Oracle) Oracle's enterprise system structure is similar to that of SAP's format in that Oracle's focus is centered on every tier of the company. Oracle is able to utilize the company's present business programs to help make the company better. The result is productiveness, effectiveness and quicker reaction time. Businesses that utilize Oracle's enterprise system are able to simulate real world information in order to determine the success of the programs. While the program is just a simulation, the information entered is real. This helps businesses, and especially management, determine the program successes and/or failures to really see the benefits to the company. According to Oracle, the differences between SAP and Oracle are that "Oracle applications provide customers with technical advantages that deliver business value." (Oracle, 2005) In other words, business users have all of their business information in one place. This business structure is unique to Oracle where it "allows customers to run on one global model and instance." (Oracle, 2005) In addition, users have flexibility when utilizing Oracle business products. Oracle's products are configured into the company's present system where the users are able to "adapt their business processes to ever changing business drivers." (Oracle, 2005) With respect to security, Oracle "has built its applications using the latest standards, such as Java (J2EE), enabling our customers to operate in the most secure, scalable and low-cost environments." (Oracle, 2005) Oracle's customers no longer need to stress over the lack of security related to business programs. With Oracle's structured products, security is enhanced to the ease of the customer(s). With Oracle, customers are able to breathe easy knowing that their products are safe and secure and that they no longer have to worry about re-licensing when new products are available and/or there are program updates which inconveniences their customers. The focus is the customer and security. If the customer is not successful, neither is Oracle.
[SEE ATTACHMENT 3 FOR POWERPOINT COMPARISON]
5. You have heard that commercially-available enterprise software might not be able to handle the following situations:
Ð²Ð‚Ñž When the system checks for available inventory, it treats material that is still undergoing quality control inspection as available inventory as well as material in inventory that has already passed quality inspection.
Ð²Ð‚Ñž There is no way to automatically check customer records to see which qualify for sales tax exemptions.
Ð²Ð‚Ñž The system assigns a date for backorders of items that are currently out of stock rather than the original requested date on the customer order.
What impact might this lack of functionality have on order processing and other parts of the company? How could you determine how serious a problem this creates? What questions would you ask?
The impact that this lack of functionality may have on order processing and other parts of the company is that customers may not receive their orders on time or in a timely manner if the system is assigning dates for backorders that are currently out of stock rather than putting the original requested date on the order. In addition, with products that have not undergone the quality control inspection and being distinguished as products available in inventory, the numbers are incorrect. Customer service representatives may promise customers products that appear to be available but in actuality the products are not available. With respect to identifying customer records that may qualify for tax exemptions, if the enterprise software is unable to conduct this search, the employees will need to take over this project, which means that they may be taken away from their already important job. For businesses with massive customer databases, the task will be long and daunting. Not only will the company lose money because the employee or employees need to conduct this search, but their original jobs may be unmanned which may pose as a liability to the company. By checking for sales tax exemptions, the customer will be glad to be saving money and the company may appear to be discounting products as a result which therefore leads to repeat business.
The ways to determine how serious a problem these issues create is by looking the decrease in customer repeat business; or by looking at the inventory lists to see how many products are sold at any given time versus which products are not selling; or by simply speaking to a customer or customers and acknowledging the issues associated with the enterprise system and noticing the lack of concern the customer has for the issues; or analyzing the profit numbers for the month or the year at which time the enterprise system became effective. With all of these potential possibilities, enterprise systems, no matter which brand is being utilized, should address the lack of functionality head on. The customers and its business processes should be the central focus of the enterprise system. It should work to the benefit of the company and not hinder its business processes whereby profits will also be affected.
When pondering whether or not to take advantage of enterprise systems, I would ask questions that involved the tax exemptions and how to distinguish orders that qualify for the sales tax exemptions; or how does the software deal with ever-changing delivery dates; or questions involving correct inventory numbers, especially when products have or have not passed inspectionÐ²Ð‚â€we would like to know if there is way to distinguish products that have passed and those that are in the process of passing; or how does one company compare to its competitors; or does the company need to re-license products every time there is a new product release or a new update; or are the employees of the company able to easily learn the software without having it affect daily workdays; or how does the software work with the current present software the business utilizes; or are the products customizable if the products offered do not exactly fit what the business needs and utilizes? With these questions in mind, a decision should be able to be made with respect to utilizing enterprise software or continuing with the current business programs already in use.
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