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Consistent data key for optimal SAP sales order management, experts say

The range of purchasing channels today makes life easy for the consumer, but it can mean headaches for companies that don’t do enough to make sure data is consistent across those channels.

Effective use of SAP sales order management requires close attention to the rapidly evolving sales channels available -- and integrating those channels across the SAP landscape, according to analysts and SAP representatives alike.

For example, a customer who orders a product online needs to be able to return an order in the store if needed. 

Yet, while that kind of versatility is great for the customer, it adds complexity to the order management process. It can also add up to headaches for the company if the various records aren’t consistent across the entire sales order management system.  

There could be different records for a customer who ordered online, or using a mobile device, or even through a call center, said Prashant Dube, product manager for SAP CRM.

“You could have the same customer in five different channels,” Dube said. “And they could all be treated differently.”

To avoid those problems, organizations using SAP sales order management need to make sure they’re creating single records -- “single versions of the truth” -- for their products, customers and orders via a centralized database.

One way to do this is by using the single order management application within the sales order management system. That way, the data stays consistent, irrespective of channels, according to SAP.

“If there’s no central repository,” Dube said, “it’s a big problem for the order and the consumer.”

Start small and plan for testing the sales order management system

Companies implementing SAP sales order management need to include at least a week of testing before it’s actually deployed, according to Jeanne Hedman, lead SAP consultant with Panorama Consulting Group LLC based in Denver. 

Companies need to ensure the new sales order management system recorded the same number of orders, and the same number of shipments, as the existing system.

Additionally, companies using order entry systems like electronic data interchanges need to be certain the new system is “talking” to their partners’ systems, according to Hedman.

“You do have to work with your customers,” she said.

Organizations starting with a new sales order management system should use it only for a relatively simple product at first and gradually add other products to the system, according to Michael Dunne, an analyst with Gartner Research Inc.

 “Don’t cut your teeth on the most difficult thing,” he said.

Make sure the version fits

It’s important that companies deploying SAP sales order management make a thorough assessment of their business needs and processes and use that information in getting the version that most closely matches their business model, according to Dube. 

After all, there are big differences in how companies operate, even when it comes to contracts.  Whereas a chemical company might use contracts to supply a customer on an as-needed basis, a telecommunications firm relies on more long-term contracts with its customers that can last years. “And there are some cases when the contract itself might not be applicable,” Dube said.

End-to-end metrics

It’s a mistake to apply metrics to individual departments and processes within the sales order management system – at the “silo level” – warned Craig Le Clair, analyst with Forrester Research Inc

The advantage of SAP’s sales order management system is that it spans the entire order management process, he said. That means that companies should see to it that the metric they’re using for order executioncheck thatthas

 is applied to the entire system – giving them a “single version of the truth,” once again.

“What’s needed is to look at more end-to-end order metrics,” Le Clair said. 

Those overarching metrics include the percentage of orders fulfilled on time to the percentage of accurate orders captured, according to Le Clair.

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