One of the most ubiquitous tenets presented in just about every marketing class ever given is the four P’s of marketing, which are price, promotion, product, and placement. You may be asking yourself now what this has to do with your e-commerce operations, but if we change our perspective slightly on the function of the department within the organization, we can see that the product and placement tags directly apply.
By thinking of the service the e-commerce team provides as the product to the overall organization (the customer), and placement as the timely and accurate delivery of that service, we can start to see how this department can be a shining star of the company by simply borrowing a couple of simple concepts from our friends in the marketing department.
First, we need to address the product (service) we provide to the company and ask ourselves some very serious questions. While theoretically it makes sense that processing an order electronically is much more efficient than manual entry, is that what is actually happening? Are the systems and software in place to integrate the data as it is received, or is your EDI pipeline relegated to being the same as email or fax? If you are completely integrated, are master data or mapping issues regularly causing failures resulting in manual intervention? To combat these issues, implementing change management as part of your testing procedure will greatly improve your production data flows.
Change management in your data environment is as important as quality assurance checks the manufacturing plants. That being said, the change management process need not be extremely complicated or cumbersome so to slow the delivery of the service (placement). I have seen companies take validating change to the extreme, which inevitably is detrimental to the overall business process and will in time result in reluctance to utilize EDI and drive document flow back to the manual process. To strike the perfect balance is crucial, and can be done by getting a technical colleague not involved in that implementation to review your test results. Sometimes we project blinders on and another technical resource can identify an issue missed. Since your developers may not be involved in day to day business operations, it is also important to get a business resource to review the test results to ensure there are no supply chain issues. Quite simply, that’s it. Any more involvement may slow the delivery of the project and cause the above mentioned frustrations.
Providing a quality service or product is crucial to a company’s future viability in the marketplace. By looking at each department within the larger organization with the same perspective, and holding them accountable for deploying a valuable service, the company as a whole will innovate, and run more efficiently.