Keep track of your orders at every stage
All businesses rely on customer orders for their revenue. An error in processing an order could easily result in losing that client and a disastrous loss of income for the business. It could even be enough to bankrupt the business and close it down completely.
Keeping track of orders and making sure that that they are invoiced correctly is of paramount importance in any business. If a customer phones up wanting a status report and estimated delivery date on an order, a robust system needs to be in place to provide this information instantly. The customer does not want to hear ‘I’ll have to call you back on that’.
This cannot be done efficiently using a manual system e.g. writing information in a notebook. A custom Excel application to your own requirements will help your business survive in the tough economic climate that we are facing.
Scanning incoming jobs reduces error and saves time
The Excel Experts recently built an order tracking and invoicing system for a film processing agency.
‘Off the shelf’ packages are available to carry out these functions in a business, but no two businesses are exactly the same (even if they are in the same industry), and they all have their own individual requirements of what they wish the application to do and what data they want to store in it.
A ‘One Size Fits All’ approach is not the full answer, and this is where The Excel Experts can provide a custom application that is easy for employees to use and delivers what the business wants.
When a film package arrived for processing, the package details are scanned electronically and the relevant information is automatically extracted and stored in the spreadsheet. The Excel spreadsheet has been engineered to operate as a database so that information on any order is instantly available.
This process of initiating an order would have normally taken up a huge amount of employee time, and of course, when a process like this is done manually then there is always room for error. Someone spells the customer address incorrectly or enters a date wrongly. Automation makes this process so efficient.
Using Excel automation, this process for an incoming package takes literally seconds and there is no room for error.
Order input system with easy to use forms
Excel forms have been used to give a professional appearance to the spreadsheet, rather than it just looking like a standard spreadsheet and the user wondering where to input and view data and what the structure of the spreadsheet is.
Excel forms can easily guide the user using standard Windows controls that everyone is already familiar with. These can include buttons that you click on and dropdowns that you select options for viewing the data.
At every stage of the process, the user can review and edit any order very easily using this User Interface. The whole system using the Excel forms is very intuitive and very easy for any user to learn. There is also the ability to add in error trapping to ensure that users do not do anything that breaks the rules of the business. These could be things like trying to add a delivery date in the past or entering in data that was incorrectly spelt and did not comply with what the customer had ordered.
If a user tries to do anything incorrect, a warning message will pop up, and they will find it impossible to enter incorrect data.
Excel can also restrict access to the spreadsheet to certain users. It can also restrict valid users on what they are allowed to do. For example, certain users may only be allowed to view data, but not to alter it, whereas other users may be allowed to make changes.
You do not want everyone in an organisation able to view what might be confidential data, or even to alter it, if they are not authorised to do so. Remember GDPR!
Using the database aspect of the system, a user can easily search on a particular order and instantly have all the details to hand ready for a customer enquiry.
Flexible, agile methodology to ensure the solution fits changing requirements
Orders are extremely important to a business but are no good if the work is done, but the customer never receives an invoice, so no revenue is generated for the work.
This part of the system was not on the original specification for the system but was recommended by The Excel Experts and turned out to be a very welcome addition to the system. The Excel Experts can very often suggest changes to the original specification of a project which the client may not have thought of, but which enhance the system enormously.
As the data is held in a database within the Excel spreadsheet, it was very straightforward to bolt on an Invoicing application to generate invoices.
This gave the client the ability to see total revenue for a given month (split by customer), track unpaid invoices, help to prepare monthly management accounts and end of year accounts, and forecast cash flow.
The client could easily see who the best customers are, how long orders are taking to process (maximum and minimum times), and how long customers are taking to pay invoices
Future development possibilities using a modular approach
A stock control system could easily be added to this application so that any materials required could be controlled.
Imagine what would happen if a major customer gives you a big order and you do not have all the materials to process the order. The customer would go elsewhere and you would have lost them forever.
Stock control will let you know what materials you are low on, lead times from order to delivery to replenish, and whether any of that stock is already committed to existing orders.
Employee details could also be added against orders to show which orders were worked on by each employee. You would be able to see who was processing the most orders and who was doing the least.
Client feedback is vital
“Many thanks once again for all your help, J is very happy with the spreadsheet, it makes his job a lot easier. If we have any similar projects in the future, we will definitely be looking to use your services again.”