Order Processing Automation Widens the Delivery Window
A well known, large manufacturer and importer of sunglasses needed to improve customer service and lower operating costs. As part of a conversion to Oracle E-Business Suite™ (E-BS) process automation, linking to key customers for Customer Orders, Shipment Notices, and Invoices completed the supply chain process. The existing, manual EDI system (GXSTrusted Link) was linked over a three-week period, and then users were trained to focus upon challenges.
Sunglasses are sold through specialty, department, clothing, food, and discount stores. Each type of store features different product: some more stylish, some more economical, and some seasonal. All are automating their replenishment systems to more closely match inventory and sales levels. Since most retail systems support the X12 national standard for document exchange, linking to customers’ supply chains could occur quickly and economically.
The automation process involves several steps. For example, for INbound customer Purchase Orders the GXS Catalyst EDI mapping tool was used to re-format the data to the format required by the Oracle E-BS’ EDI Gateway. Simultaneously, the pointers linking the gateway to the appropriate temporary tables used by the customer sales order module were set. The key challenge during this step is to ensure the precise definition of the field provided by the customer matches the field in Oracle E-Business Suite. Since customers’ definition of fields will always be different, the strong extended rule formula builder capability of the GXS Catalyst mapping tool was used.
The second step was testing; to ensure automated, lights-out operation did not cause fulfillment errors or re-working of customer POs. INbound tests were submitted to the Customer Service Department for approval. A comprehensive Inbound map was created which works for all inbound Trading Partners. Finally, the Customer Service Department was trained to do daily operations, correct errors, and do routine troubleshooting of data transmission. The process automation changed the nature of the job: from data entry to data correction. The key benefit was a wider shipping window due to the elimination of data entry time.
Other documents such as Invoice’s were also automated following the same process. The key difference is that OUTbound sample data is closely compared to existing data sent and that tests are submitted to the customers’ test mailboxes. This technique assures normal payments are not interrupted. A challenge was to correctly map data that the customer did not populate from a standard location in Oracle. Another issue was setting up scripts to Archive both inbound and outbound transactions in TLW. This ensures a stable database and smooth operations. Prior to doing this, the system had a tendency to lock up and was unstable.
The process automation achieved both objectives: better customer service and lower operating cost. Timely completion of the EDI conversion eliminated delays and dual processing. Since EDI conversion occurs near the end of the conversion to an ERP system, since staff has been overworked for months, and since key customers are involved; the choice of outside expertise was warranted. An EDI specialist with extensive knowledge of Oracle E-BS and GXS kept the cost lowest due to experience with technical challenges and secure Internet data transmission. Second, on-going same day support from DCS continues to be available. This means the sunglasses manufacturer is more able to focus upon tasks that dramatically improve the bottom line.