Business isn’t that complicated. The customer wants his or her order. You want your money. The fewer complications the better. The sooner the customer gets the order, and the sooner you get the cash, the happier everyone is. Alas, things are not always so simple. More than few things can disrupt the quote-to-cash process. Software innovations, like Acumatica Cloud ERP for distribution, are making it easier to improve cash flow and customer experience, however.
The Quote-to-Cash Process
We all understand the quote-to-cash process intuitively, but it’s worth taking a closer look to see how many people, workflows and software applications it can take to execute. The process starts with a moment of customer contact where a salesperson gets information about what the customer needs. This could occur by phone, email or online quote request form. The salesperson then prepares a price quote, often using a productivity tool like Microsoft Word or a sales order processing application.
If the customer accepts the quote, the salesperson may then have to enter the resulting sales order, manually, into an order management system. From there, the warehouse or manufacturing operation has to fulfill the order. This may involve yet more manual rekeying of order data into a distribution management and logistics system. Once delivered, the order can be invoiced, which usually requires an invoicing system that may or may not be part of the company’s accounting software package. When payment comes from the customer, the cash deposit posts in the general ledger software.
Even when these separate processes and software packages are connected, the overall quote-to-cash process can still be cumbersome. A lot of people/hours get spent keeping on top of orders and their fulfilment through the final receipt of cash. There are also many opportunities for errors and confusing situations that can negatively affect customer service. For example, if one item out of ten quoted is out of stock, that will change the quote amount. This, in turn, may generate back-and-forth communications with the customer, adjustments to invoices, delays in order processing and so forth.
Improving the Quote-to-Cash Process
Modern automated systems like Acumatica Cloud ERP provide you with features, integrations and process orchestrations that streamline the quote-to-cash process. By connecting the various elements of the process and giving the different people involved a unified view of what’s going, the software helps improve cash flow while maintaining a good customer experience.
Now, with a single connected system, your people can take orders accurately, ship promptly and avoid billing errors. You get your cash faster. Reporting and data visualization tools give you insights into potential issues with slow payers, delayed deliveries and inventory control challenges.
Order automation enables order-taking over the phone, via websites and point-of-sale (POS) devices. The cloud ERP is able to display item availability and apply discounts automatically. It can be configured to show a variety of delivery options. The order then gets processed without any rekeying of information. The automation and orchestration continue through invoicing and accounting processes that complete the “to cash” step of the process.
We have worked with many companies on the implementation of cloud ERP to improve order-to-cash and the broader operations of a distribution business. Contact us to learn more or see a demo of Acumatica.