No real time information about the price lists from various handset suppliers is available at the moment. As a result of this, new deals are created without knowing if the current price list is the latest one or not, which can decrease profit margins if the same handset is available cheaply from another supplier. A contributing factor to this inefficiency is that fact that currently the import of price lists is done through a slow and error-prone manual keying-in process into the ERP system.
The stock ordering process is inefficient and cumbersome. Current manual process involves looking at existing stock levels and the commission offered on different contracts (which requires accessing two systems at the same time), from this the best package is worked out and a PO is sent via email to the supplier offering the cheapest price (price lists are viewed using the ERP in order to find the cheapest supplier). Once the stock is ordered, the ordered quantity has to be manually updated in the inventory control system within the ERP system.
Creation of new attractive and cheaper packages is a time consuming task as no real time information is available regarding the commission offered on different types of contracts and the prices of handsets from various suppliers. Contrary to this, competitors have employed automated systems (that present all the required information as a single view) because of which they can come up with cheaper deals in less time, thereby gaining competitive edge.
Allocation of handset is cumbersome. During the final stage of contract processing, once an application is successful, the simple process of allocating a handset requires logging into the ERP system, checking the stock level and then posting a journal transaction in order to decrease the stock quantity and to keep the accounts balanced. All of this overhead not only contributes towards the inefficiency of the contract acquisition process but also stands in the way of fully automating the process.
- To achieve compliance with network provider's new regulations that includes performing different customer checks as well as enabling electronic exchange of documents. This entails not only automating the contract acquisition process but also the commission claim process.
- To reduce application processing times by fully automating contract acquisition process. This would not only achieve conformance to business partners' requirements but at the same time would help in increasing customer base in less time.
- To increase revenue by providing online application processing for contract acquisition. This would also help in keeping the number of application processing agents to a minimum.
- To have end-to-end business visibility by having real time information about current commissions offered, the cost price of handsets from various suppliers, number of successful applications each day, pending invoices and pending stock replenishment requests.
- To have real time information about stock levels so that only optimum stock levels of handsets are maintained at any point of time, thereby decreasing spending on unwanted stock. This also helps towards making the contract acquisition process more efficient as the sales agent would exactly know what the stock levels are before actually allocating the handset.
- To automate stock ordering process so that no exchange of emails is involved. The whole process from placing an order to receiving an invoice should be as efficient as possible involving no human mediation. Handset suppliers do offer electronic exchange of documents e.g. invoices, one objective of automating the stock ordering process is to make use of this facility as it would make the stock ordering process more efficient and less error prone.
- To automate price list import process as manual keying-in of price list takes a long time. This would also help increasing the efficiency of creating cheaper deals as up to date prices would be available while the deals are being created or updated.
- To eliminate paper based cash-back process. The automated process would eliminate the need for the customers to send copies of bills. Instead customer's bank account would automatically get credited once an electronic notification has been received from the network provider that it has deducted the billed amount through direct debit.
- To increase customer base by contacting customers whose contracts either expired or those who were declined a contract in the first place.
- To have a consolidated view of business data including network providers' packages, deals, price lists and the stock levels. A consolidated view would help to extract the relevant information within less time.
- To automate commission claim process. An automated system would not only decrease the time it takes to get payment from network providers but would also release manager from manually creating invoices for each network provider.
- To make deals management efficient. The manual process of deal management, which requires logging in to two systems at the same time, needs to be replaced with a more efficient process whereby performing a profit analysis is far easier. This is only possible if information about price lists, commissions and current deals is available within a single application.
This article was originally published in The SOA Magazine (www.soamag.com), a publication officially associated with "The Prentice Hall Service-Oriented Computing Series from Thomas Erl" (www.soabooks.com). Copyright ©SOA Systems Inc. (www.soasystems.com)