When you’re looking for a new computer or phone with the exact specs you need, you often look online first, just to have an idea of what is out there. Having found something you are happy with and with a design you like, you select it and then head to the check-out portion of the website.
What follows are the process windows, prompting you to fill in your shipping, billing, and payment information to finalise your order. Once everything is filled out, your portion of the purchase is complete, but the order continues to flow through the company as part of a larger process.
This is the order to cash process.
What Is Order to Cash
Order to Cash, often referred to as O2C or OTC, is the process your business uses to receive, process, manage, and complete client orders. It is not limited to the a computer or phone: it includes any online purchase you can think of, from video games to streaming services to edible glitter (yes, really).
While to customers this seems like an easy, seamless process, to you as a business it is not. You want to be as clear as possible about what is happening when, and who is in charge of doing what.
The process has eight steps, which are as follows:
- Order management refers to when the order is received from the customer. As soon as the order is received, confirmation must be sent to the customer and steps should begin on your end as a business to complete the order.
- Credit management means that as soon as the order is placed and received, either by automating or through thorough checks, you ensure that the customer’s credit is approved. It is best that this is automated except for particular cases that require a more intense check.
- Order fulfillment is next. Tied to your automated credit management system you should have automated inventory to ensure that clients are purchasing products or services that are indeed available. Any order that is approved should be presented in a standardized manner and legible for all associates (for instance using notation such as UPN) so that any of them can begin working on putting the order together. It is best that this is electronic as paper orders have been proven to lead to greater issues down the line.
- Order shipping, as the name suggests, refers to the successful shipment and arrival of the order to the customer. This is the part of the process most prone to the effect of good logistics for success. Data and feedback from this portion of the process are extremely important and useful when it comes to optimisation.
- Customer invoicing allows the Finance department to forecast cashflows and plan expenses accordingly. Invoicing systems need to receive accurate information from front-line staff, including order specifics, costs, credit terms, order date, and shipping date to generate invoices correctly and without delay.
- Accounts receivable is the step in which the revenue is recognised as received from the customer as the invoice has been sent. It is during this step that issues with payments will come up if unpaid past a certain amount of time, or if there is an issue with an invoice itself.
- Payment collection is when the payment is confirmed as received from the customer to your business. A problem businesses may run into here is when payment collection is slower and shows as unpaid for the customer, even if the money is already on its way or has, indeed, been received. Alternatively, if the money has indeed not been received, this is also something that your Finance team should be aware of to forecast expenses.
- Reporting and data management is the feedback you receive from your customers regarding the entire process, as well as an understanding of how the process is working. It helps you as a business find where you can optimise the process further by lowering costs or the time it takes. And it gives you an idea of how your customers are reacting.
Why Is Having an Order to Cash Process Important
Having your O2C process mapped out clearly is extremely important for any business that wishes to be successful. With a well-established, optimised order to cash process, you are able to avoid the pitfalls that process improvement methodologies such as the Seven Wastes or the 5 S’s warn against.
If done well, a good O2C process will:
- Streamline the entire process for your customers, making them happy and more likely to use your services again.
- Reduce waiting time for your customers, once again ensuring that you retain customers.
- Minimize the need for customers to interact with customer service representatives, giving your team of reps time to focus on the larger issues.
- Ensure that orders are fulfilled accurately and in a timely manner from the first moment they are made.
- The conversion of receivables and payment collections from customers is quick and there are few delays.
- Avoid backorders and ensure you have enough products to meet demand.
- Have enough information for Finance to forecast expenditure and debt going forward.
- Avoid information re-entry and overload, and order re-entry and overload.
- Ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to what order fulfillment means.
- Improve data reporting and feedback for analysis for optimisation purposes.
With a good, updated order to cash process, you ensure that you are painting an accurate picture of what your current situation is at all times so that you can predict future needs. You know what products are working and which ones aren’t, and why this is. You learn what parts of the process are maybe failing or where they could be improved.
For instance, if the princess doll children are desperate for is taking too long to ship out because dress materials are sourced from far away, then looking into options closer to where it is assembled is an idea.
You also want to ensure that you have enough stock of the dolls to properly meet the demands and orders – you do not want to have to email back a customer telling them you’ve run out after they have paid.
And when it comes to cutting down time, it is always a good idea to review how you are shipping them out. Are you doing this directly or outsourcing? If it is a third-party company, is it slow and costing a lot? Are there other options you can consider?
These are some of the instances that come to light from having a good order to cash process in place.
And the best way to see it all is by mapping out the process.
Mapping the Order to Cash Process
Mapping out your process provides you with an understanding of what exactly is happening in your business. Doing this is incredibly important at every stage of your organisation, so that you know how things are currently being done. It provides you with a bird’s eye view of how things are working, and this gives you the opportunity to find places for improvement.
At Skore, this is our bread and butter: helping organisations and businesses figure out how they are currently getting things done, and how they can then do it all better.
By using Universal Process Notation, and clearly labelled maps, organisations the world over can benefit from our services. Not only at the stakeholder level, but all the way down to front-line workers. Through our maps, everyone that needs to know about each process is involved and can understand what their involvement entails.
Businesses need to have clear processes in place if they want to succeed – this is not a question. Having these accessible to all relevant parties in a process library via our software is a great way to make sure your business is working optimally. You always know what is happening, when, and who is in charge of it.
On the template, all the steps outlined above under the eight numbers are visible, as we have, you can name them in a way that’s relevant to your organisation. You can see the starting point trigger of the process is the customer making the request, leading to the first step of ‘process orders’, or ‘order management’. Below the step, there is the title of the person responsible for ensuring that the step is completed. You can also find an attachment with further instructions and requirements related to the action.
The process continues in the output of the contract being agreed to with the customer. It then moves on to the next step, credit management, with the handover going to the Credit controller. The process then continues to flow into each step accordingly, and the parallels to the eight steps of the process outlined above are easy to draw.
Below the main process, there are two smaller processes with different starting triggers. They include a process focused on inventory checks based on customer orders, and the data and feedback process to improve other parts of the process as a whole.
Skore allows you to visualize this entire process in this template, and to add the relevant information of those involved throughout its entirety.
And we would love for you to try it out for free!
See what you learn about your existing procedures and what can be improved. After all, order to cash is one process you want to have as much information about as possible.
The order to cash process is an incredibly important part of your business and one that should not be forgotten or mishandled in any way.
Without a clear procedure:
- You will spend more than needed
- There will be long waiting periods
- Your customers will feel neglected and refuse to buy again
- Forecasting future expenditure and debt will be impossible.
You will not be successful unless you have a clear, step-by-step process and accountability within that process.
Skore understands this and wants to help you succeed. This is why we have provided you with a free template that you can use to map out your current O2C process so that you can find places for improvement and optimisation.
If you’re interested in more than the templates currently available on our site, get in touch with us for a free trial of the product!