Fulfillment software ties together many aspects of your business. It is certainly an effort to create, enhance and maintain software but the benefits of having customized fulfillment software that fits your business and corporate culture far out way the costs.
There are many variations of fulfillment. We will define fulfillment as every process from the time the customer makes their first touch of our company until their product or service is delivered. This excludes any marketing which is done prior to the customer reaching out to our company. Once the customer has reached out and touched us in any way (phone call, email, web site, meeting, etc) then fulfillment has begun.
Typical steps of fulfillment:
Source or Build Product or Service
We are taking the customer from their initial interest to the receipt of our product or service. The processes to handle this are diverse. We want to explore the effectiveness of creating custom software applications which support these processes.
Creating and enhancing custom software for your business is like hiring and training an employee and making them more valuable for your company. Engaging all employees on enhancing the system gives them the ownership and inspiration that will in turn bring efficiency and benefits to the company. The more we focus on what it takes to do fulfillment, the better the process becomes. We become more efficient and we produce a better product and service. As with any innovation, we will more cheaply produce a better quality product and service. This is a competitive advantage. Our system becomes a knowledge resource that is able to collaborate amongst staff, vendors and customers. It tracks and reinforces innovation. Matching the system to our business process brings efficiencies. New employees will learn both the system and the business practices simultaneously because they are one in the same. There is no superfluous information and the correct info is there when they need it. Custom software provides an interface to your other internal systems as well as your vendor's and customer's systems. Engaged and inspired employees are happy employees.
To begin the process of creating a custom fulfillment system, you should assemble a team and set your goals. When assembling a team to develop custom software, you must choose a diverse group that collectively knows your business from a high level all the way down to every detail as well as a technical group who knows how to create and maintain the software. The software team may be an outsource group but your organization must provide them the business rules and work with them every step of the way. Its important to set goals for the specific benefits you want to achieve and a budget. Your resources (team) and these goals will set in motion the necessary components to assure your system is implemented as desired.
Fulfillment is central to your company's success. Innovation, however small or large, is the most important accomplishment an employee can bring to a company. Giving them the platform and opportunity to implement this innovation is paramount. Assembly your team and set your goals and push on.
Steve Cantor is president of Optimal Process which is a software development group that provides Software Development Services.