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Friday, August 09, 2019

Automate to Drive Better Customer Experiences

The benefits of electronic trading are well established, but for many healthcare manufacturers and distributors electronic data interchange (EDI) has competed with other priorities as the overhead and resources needed to implement and maintain systems can be significant. However, the growth that both manufacturers and healthcare organizations are now experiencing has intensified the importance and urgency to reduce manual processes and ramp efficiency and accuracy with automation.

For hospitals, receiving a response to an order in a timely, efficient manner is critical. When the information is transferred manually and through disparate channels, the additional time to receive acknowledgments leaves uncertainty about receipt of the order and the status of potentially life-saving products. As provider organizations expand due to mergers and acquisitions, the resources required on their end to verify orders and resolve discrepancies from manual data input can become an unsustainable burden. Manufacturers are facing similar challenges with manual processes resulting in errors and significant time and effort required downstream to resolve those discrepancies. The collective trading partner relationship feels the impact of a lack of automated order processing. 

Rapid growth, along with pressure from customers for automation, can be the moment of truth, where fully automated order processing is the obvious path to success moving forward. This was the case for a leading manufacturer and distributor of medical devices and implantable living tissues. Following recent growth and requests from customers, it was apparent that continuing to allocate additional human capital to manage order processing would not be a successful on-going strategy. The decision was made to fully automate all of its purchase order (PO) transactions with an ambitious goal to complete the implementation with six months.

The tight timeline presented one significant challenge with their in-house IT resources not able to provide a dedicated focus to this project. In addition to the deadline, this implementation required the integration of EDI transactions with an SAP system. SAP systems use a different logic that complicates transactions, but the data flow between systems is critical to relieve downstream issues with orders, acknowledgments, inventory, etc. To address these issues, they choose to leverage GHX’s managed service offering both the expertise to handle the SAP integration and the manpower to enable a rapid roll-out. Their in-house team could remain focused on its day-to-day priorities while GHX would be able to provide expertise for the SAP integration and support an accelerated time frame.

The manufacturer now reports improved customer service levels from reduced errors and faster response time for acknowledgments. There was a perception going into the project that expanding automation may change or reduce their workforce needs, but the experience was quite different. The team remains but is now able to work on more critical customer needs that support business growth.

You can read the complete case study Cryolife Taps the Power of Automated E-Commerce here.

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