Beyond the actual sale of the product, performing tasks to process these types of documents are a major loss in productivity. Those hours could be better utilized on tasks that support sales growth and increase overall efficiency.

Automating Back-End Processes in Advanced Manufacturing

Earl van As | Conexiom

Please tell us a bit about Conexiom and its role in the advanced manufacturing industry?

Conexiom® allows manufacturers to eliminate manual entry associated with the processing of sales documents through its 100% accurate automation solutions. Manufacturers rely on Conexiom to effortlessly capture and convert POs, RFQs, and other sales documents and transform them into an electronic format to be delivered into their company’s ERP system with 100% accuracy. It saves time, increases customer satisfaction and productivity.


What business processes are manufacturers most focused on transforming?

Many of our customers are keen to automate processes that offer no incremental value to the organization by performing the task. They look to automate back-end processes like manually keying in orders. Beyond the actual sale of the product, performing tasks to process these types of documents are a major loss in productivity. Those hours could be better utilized on tasks that support sales growth and increase overall efficiency.


How are they going about investigating and implementing these changes?

It often feels daunting to know where to start, and we find this to be the case whether it’s a billion dollar manufacturer or one with revenues of a few hundred million. The companies that are having the most success are the ones that take a simple approach--which processes can they automate that will offer the biggest gains in productivity? Next, leading companies evaluate how it will impact the customer, how long it will take to implement and how much it will cost to prioritize their transformation efforts.

As one might imagine, prioritizing is simpler than executing. To implement these projects, senior leadership must understand how to enlist the help of different stakeholders in their company that are necessary to drive transformation efforts forward. We see new roles like Chief Transformation Officer, Digital Transformation Director, Director of Growth & Productivity, and others more and more frequently. It sometimes takes dedicated leadership to provide the momentum to motivate and hold accountable the key roles that are critical to the business process being transformed.


How can manufacturers quantify the success or failure of their digital transformation projects?

Like any strategic plan, it’s important to identify an objective and plan and measure against the achievement of that objective. The complicated part is that a transformation is unlike any other plan and each project will have its own unique measurement of success. Identifying the metrics that are important to the transformation in advance is key. Some metrics to measure success of a digitization are straightforward like increased revenue or customer satisfaction scores going up or down. Another could be revenue per employee against job function. This can help point out where you’re gaining productivity from new processes and procedures. New technology should free employees. Reduced operational cost is another good metric but some pre-transformation measurement work might be in order. How quickly you recoup the cost of your investment is also a good indicator about whether the changes you’ve implemented are serving customer needs.  


Why is it or isn’t it important for manufacturers to take advantage of new technologies?

Change is happening whether manufacturers like it or not. Today’s marketplace is way too competitive to not operate as efficiently as possible, all the while providing exceptional customer service. The customer experience must be perfect all the way through the supply chain, or margin and loyalty erodes.


What is the most common error businesses make when introducing digital solutions in manufacturing?

Not understanding how to motivate people to drive the transformation. It’s human nature to be apprehensive of change. People are intimidated by technology or worry they will be replaced by machines or that their workplace may become more complex. It’s usually not the original decision makers that are responsible for implementing the digitization so it’s key to make sure there is buy-in from the people that need to drive the digitization and those that will ultimately be affected by it in their day to day tasks.


How can these errors be avoided?

Companies need to have a business plan for digital transformation as well as an executional one, and at the center convey to their staff as well as their customers how digitization will enhance their experience. Staff who understand the rewards of a digital transformation will work to adopt and implement it more readily. Customers who will have their transactional experience affected but ultimately improved, may also initially need to embrace any changes asked of them to their existing buying process.


How has implementing digital transformation projects changed the overall customer experience in the manufacturing industry and why?

We often see B2C trends driving customer experiences in B2B even though the products are considerably different. This is because we don’t change our expectations even though we logically understand we are dealing with a different context for our transaction. Manufacturers are being pressed to provide personalized, customer-centric experiences, which ultimately means in support of customer preferences. Customers expect their orders to be fulfilled quickly, on the platform of their choosing and with no inaccuracies or inconsistencies.



About Earl van As
Earl van As is Vice President of Marketing & Product Management of ecmarket, a cloud solutions developer of the patent-pending Conexiom sales order and invoice automation solution. Conexiom allows manufacturers and distributors to focus on serving customers and managing supplier relationships instead of entering data.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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