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Operational Considerations

Datafile Software

Operational Considerations

Types of Orders

You may receive orders in writing (letter, fax or email) or over the phone. You may give quotations which customers subsequently confirm.The way you take orders can affect the way you decide to enter them. For example, if you take orders mostly on the phone, then speed of entry may be important, so that you want to reduce the amount of keying that a telephone salesperson has to make.

On the other hand, if a lot of detail is required for each order, then you may want them to take down details onto order pads which take them through the details needed, with a clerk entering the order into the computer as a later step.

The amount of detail that is required at the time the order is placed can vary greatly between companies.For example, if goods are to be shipped overseas, then you may have to enter extra information onto orders to cater for the needs of customs documentation. If so, it may be appropriate to enter this data onto the computer order too, with the intention that the computer should print this documentation.

Datafile Software allows orders to be categorised as active (which assumes that the orders will proceed through the stages to invoice); completed (no further processing is required or possible); on hold (no further processing is possible until returned to an active state); and quotation (is kept on file until either deleted, or turned into an active order by the customer accepting the quotation).

Entering Orders

Orders are entered into the Datafile Software sales order processing system in two steps: first the general order information (the order header) followed by as many individual order detail lines as needed up to a maximum of 999 lines.

The order header information is entered through a user-definable screen (Datafile Diamond and Premier only) which means that the wide variety of order information which different companies may need can simply be catered for by redesigning the screen. This you could do yourself — though probably you will use your dealer for this. It also means that if you need to make some changes in a few months time to the information that is entered for each order, then it is the work of a few minutes at your computer, not a few weeks whilst some costly reprogramming is undertaken elsewhere.

The order details can either be entered one by one, using a full screen to do so. This allows a considerable amount of information to be entered for each order line. Alternatively a fast mode whereby each order line is entered as an order line on the screen — which limits the amount of data entered per order line. These modes can be mixed — you can enter some order lines the fast way and some the full screen way.

If you have a particularly complex order entry procedure, perhaps needing data to be matched against files other than just the sales and stock ledgers (for example, a file of export agents) you may want to consider using the ProFiler application generator. This would allow you to write a front-end procedure for order entry, bypassing the normal order entry procedures themselves. The power of Datafile Software comes from the ability to mix and match the system features for the results you want.

Order Numbers

It is normal to use a sequential number as the order reference, perhaps with additional codes to help in your processing. The system normally prompts with the next number for you to accept or reject, although you may elect to switch off automatic numbering. For example, you may prefer not to ask for automatic numbering where orders are entered from order pads that are already numbered — you cannot guarantee the sequence in which the orders are passed to you for processing.

You can structure the code with part of it alphabetic and part of it numeric. If you elect to increment order numbers automatically, then the most junior numeric portion of the code is increased by one for each new order. For example, suppose you structure your code in the format AA9999/U. If the last code entered were "GK0412/X”, then the next code offered will be "GK0413/X”. You could use such a technique to prefix order numbers with a branch code, or salesperson initials, or agent.

Order Fulfilment & Processing

You already have procedures to fulfil orders received from customers. You have worked these out from experience to ensure the customer gets served quickly, and an invoice is sent promptly. You need to review how you can match these procedures via the facilities available in the sales order processing system.

You may consolidate a batch of orders by product, so that a warehouse person can pick the right numbers of each product needed to make up all orders for packing. You may take each order round the warehouse and collect just the items which make it up, marking those which you part ship, or are out of stock — do you part-fulfil an order, or leave it until you can fully complete it?

You may make to order, so that the order details in fact become factory orders — and you may need some extra procedures for this. You could consider linking to the Bill of Materials system or using the ProFiler application generator to interface additional procedures onto an existing Datafile Software application.

You can use acknowledgement documents, or the stock picking sheet facility, to print the necessary information for your company to fulfil its orders.

Quantities — Units and Packs

As discussed in the stock system documentation, some stock items can be purchased and sold in packs.If so, then you need to consider how you are going to record sales orders: in units, or in units and packs, or in packs only?

The default is to record stock and orders in units. When you buy packs they are split for stock control purposes into units. However, if you keep stock of an item in packs and never break the packs for sale, then you may prefer to use the pack as your unit of stock control, and to buy and sell at that level.

If your customers can order in either units or packs, then you need to define your ordering system to process units and packs (Datafile Diamond and Premier only).

Documents

Do you send order acknowledgements? Do you print delivery notes? And are these to be printed before stock is picked (with the attendant problems if you are, in fact, out of stock and have manually to change the delivery note)?Is the delivery note printed as a carbon copy of the invoice, so that no separate delivery note print procedure is needed?

However you want to work, you can tailor the sales order processing system to work that way too.And you can have several different procedures according to different types of order, to cover the variations you experience in your business.

Within the Datafile Software order processing system the document printing procedures double up as processing procedures. The facilities are extremely powerful and enable you to tailor how orders are to be processed and files updated, with the document as one output of the process.An understanding of these facilities is essential if you are to get the most from the system.

  • Release ID: Standard

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