To win repeat business, bathroom products manufacturer MAAX must process and fill orders fast and accurately—but reliance on time-consuming, error-prone manual processes threatened to thwart this aim.
MAAX used IBM® Enterprise Content Management solutions to streamline capture and processing of orders received by fax and email. Today, MAAX processes 54 percent of non-EDI orders automatically.
- 54% of non-EDI orders processed with no manual intervention, speeding turnaround times
- 2 FTEs moved into customer service roles, thanks to higher efficiency
- Supports profitable growth, allowing MAAX Bath to expand without increasing headcount
Business Challenge Story
Satisfying high expectations
MAAX sells its products through an intermediary network of dealers, from small independent stores to large wholesalers and retailers. These sellers and their customers have extremely high expectations when it comes to order fulfillment. Any delays around order processing and delivery could lead to dissatisfaction and reputational damage, putting MAAX at risk of losing hard-won market share. This makes it vital for the company to provide a seamless experience from the moment it receives an order to delivery of the finished product.
However, MAAX found that reliance on manual methods was slowing order turnaround times. Since the details of any orders received by email or fax had to be manually entered into the company’s central SAP ERP system for processing, errors inevitably crept into the process. In addition to causing customer frustration, these errors could be costly for the company, potentially requiring it to reprocess entire orders from scratch.
“We knew there had to be a better way,” says Suzie Métivier, System Analyst at MAAX Bath. “Our business was growing and we couldn’t afford to be held back by manual processes. This sparked our search for a solution that could support faster, more accurate order processing—helping us boost efficiency and ensure prompt, reliable service.”
Shaping a new approach to order processing
Working with IBM Business Partner MagicLamp, MAAX designed and deployed a streamlined document capture and processing solution, built on IBM Enterprise Content Management solutions.
Suzie Métivier comments: “We receive orders in a variety of formats and wanted to capture them all with as little manual intervention as possible. To achieve the high degree of automation we were looking for, we knew that we needed a very flexible solution that we could customize to support a great variety of documents. The offering that MagicLamp proposed, built on IBM software, perfectly met our requirements.”
She adds: “We had a great experience working with MagicLamp. They gave an excellent first impression and have just blown us away with how knowledgeable and professional they are. Whenever we’ve had questions, they’ve been there to answer them, day and night. And the team has been able to deliver everything we’ve asked for; they really went above and beyond to make this project a success.”
Today, MAAX has established a dedicated email inbox and fax server for sales orders. When a new order arrives via one of these channels, IBM Datacap software automatically identifies and classifies the document; for instance, noting the submitting retailer and geography. Next, the solution extracts key content, including the line item details, as an electronic image. Once captured and classified, the document images are stored in a central IBM FileNet® Content Manager repository.
To speed up document capture, MAAX has added some unique features to its Datacap solution. One of these is an “ignore zone”, which allows users to exclude certain areas of a document—such as a logo or hand-written date, which would normally be flagged by the system for manual review—from the capture process. This allows more documents to be processed without any manual intervention.
MAAX Bath takes advantage of ERP Data Gateway from MagicLamp to provide seamless integration between its Datacap and SAP systems. The solution automatically takes order data captured by Datacap and links it to the company’s SAP ERP system, where it is used to generate a new sales order, ready for processing.
In addition, MAAX has worked with MagicLamp to introduce an address parsing feature, which separates freeform address data into individual component parts, such as house number, street name, and postal and zip codes.
“We use postal codes to link orders to customer records in our SAP system—when we input a postal code into the system, it will return the unique customer number linked to that address, so we can be sure that orders are matched to the correct customer,” explains Suzie Métivier.
“However, sometimes customers might enter address information in the wrong fields or fail to include certain parts of the address. With the parsing feature, we can standardize and structure address data, so that our system can capture the postal code automatically and use it to retrieve the order number—saving our teams from having to input this information manually.”
Achieving Operational Excellence
With IBM Enterprise Content Management solutions, MAAX has transformed order processing into an efficient, accurate activity. Today, the company processes 54 percent of non-EDI orders with zero manual intervention.
The newfound process efficiencies have had a major impact on the way that teams work. MAAX has been able to move staff away from manual data entry and into client service roles.
Suzie Métivier states: “We’ve taken two employees who used to handle manual data entry and re-trained them to work on our customer service team. This has been a great help as the team was really in need of more support staff, and we’ve been able to fill that gap without having to hire new people.”
Harnessing automation reduces the manual work involved across the end-to-end order-to-cash process, which has enabled MAAX to accelerate order turnaround times. Today, the company can ship orders faster than before, delighting customers and giving MAAX a valuable edge on its competitors.
What’s more, the improved accuracy and control delivered by automation has reduced error rates. As a result, MAAX can ensure that it gets customer orders right the first time, minimizing the risk of costly order re-work and re-delivery, and boosting customer satisfaction.
Suzie Métivier concludes: “Order processing is much faster and more accurate now. Previously, at peak order times, we could often fall under a day’s backlog of work. Today, we are always on top of things, which puts us in an excellent position as the business continues to grow. We can take on rising order volumes without increasing headcount—helping MAAX expand in a profitable way—and all while guaranteeing fast turnaround times for our customers—keeping them satisfied and loyal. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”