David Bickerstaff 06 March 2019 3 min read

Automating Sales Order Entry - Look Behind the Scenes

As Lucy is employed at an ever-growing list of businesses, she’s reporting back on an interesting phenomenon taking place on the road to automation.

avel-chuklanov-509630-unsplash_resizedIt goes something like this:

Lucy eagerly starts work at Business X processing the purchases orders their customers send via email.

With all the speed and efficiency of automation, Lucy processes thousands of orders per week and reviews masses of data. And as you’d guess, she inevitably uncovers issues. The issues are typically caused by some data inconsistency - originating either with Business X, or their customers sending the orders.


Now, instead of behaving the way many a Customer Service Rep would – manually fixing the issue with the order then moving onto the next one to process - Lucy calls it out.

Lucy waves the order high in the air and says ‘I’ve got a problem and I’d like to know what to do about it’. She wants the issue to be addressed and to fix the root cause so it doesn’t happen again. And again. And again.


In some businesses, this makes her temporarily unpopular. There’s an inclination to shoot the messenger. There might be whispers in the corridor….“Why is Lucy getting hung up on these orders? Clive in Customer Service used to just deal with them.”

But Lucy isn’t like Clive in Customer Service. Lucy’s a stickler for the rules - that’s why Business X employed her in the first place, right? She won’t allow issues to go unresolved and, more importantly, she won’t allow bad data to impede her effectiveness.


We reckon this is a strength, and one of the reasons you want Lucy on your team. Here a couple of scenarios that Lucy’s found in the past few months:

Scenario 1

Business X fails to keep their contract pricing data up-to-date in their ERP.  A customer on contract pricing sends through an order and half the prices on it don’t match the system. What happens?

Either their order takes longer to process because a CSR has to go see someone and check which prices are correct, or the prices on the customer’s PO are simply ignored and the order is punched in using ERP price records.

The first outcome results in delayed delivery and a cranky customer. The second causes problems with payment processing 30 days from now.

The customer’s Account Manager has promised them one price, Business X have charged another, and there’s a dispute when it comes time to reconcile the invoice.

Payment is delayed and good will is eroded.


Scenario 2

Customer A hasn’t gotten around to updating supplier stock codes in their ERP system for the past 2 years. They usually order product 12345, but that item has recently been discontinued. Business X says the closest alternative is product 67890, but it’s not a direct replacement so they don’t automatically substitute.

So what happens when this customer sends an order for product 12345?

They either don’t get the product they asked for (because stock is depleted), they get the wrong product, or their order is held up because a CSR has to stop and take a look at it.  Again - delayed delivery, possible costly returns, and damage to the relationship.


Lucy’s reported back on plenty more scenarios like the two above… I’m sure you can even think of few in your own business.

With Lucy putting the brakes on this behaviour, and fixing the issue at the root cause, the outcomes improve. Lucy acts as an agent of change and continuous improvement.

By shining a light on bad data, she’s identifying inefficiencies that can actually be remedied… sales orders and ERP processes are under the microscope and Lucy finds areas that can be made leaner, faster, better, more!