Too many people try to apply simplistic solutions to complex problems – like politicians at election time. However, sometimes a simple solution actually works out well.
A great example of this was a wholesaler that was experiencing a very high level of errors in outbound orders. More than 15% of orders they shipped out had one or more errors, resulting in customer dissatisfaction as well as financial loss – these were perishable products and mostly non-returnable, so they’d have to credit the customer and write off the cost.
The first attempt at dealing with this involved adding a level of checking after orders were picked and before they were packed, followed by bar code scanning for pack verification. The good news: this eliminated almost all picking errors. The bad news: turns out many of the errors were discrepancies between what was entered into the order entry system, and what the customers had ordered (or thought they’d ordered – most orders are by phone).
The solution to this turned out to be dead simple: have the ERP Software system automatically email an order confirmation immediately after each sales order was entered, asking the customer to review the order and notify the wholesaler of any discrepancies immediately. This eliminated both genuine key-punch errors, and customers changing their mind after the fact. They key here was the automated part – no-one has to think about sending these confirmations, they go automatically.
Now, after these two steps, fewer than 2% of outbound shipments result in any query from customers. (Fortunately for this company, their existing Inventory Management / Accounting / ERP Software was already capable of generating automated emails.)