ABC Company sells plumbing and appliance parts to plumbing and appliance repair service providers in Ohio and Michigan. The company maintains a large inventory of parts and supplies, and either ships them out or sets them apart for pickup by their customers. ABCs IT department just implemented a new web ordering application, which customers typically access from smartphones.
ABCs ordering and fulfillment processes work like this:
1. Customers access the ordering website, where they enter search criteria to identify and select parts, and then they enter the quantity desired, repeating this for all items needed. Then they checkout using an online shopping cart. Each evening all the orders for that day are formatted onto a PDF document and emailed to the Sales Dept. at ABC.
2. Each morning, a sales specialist in the Sales Dept. prints out the PDF document. They review each order and look up each customers information on the system, ensuring that the order will not cause the customers credit limit to be exceeded. (If the customers credit limit would be exceeded, the specialist sends an email to the customer to let them know that their order cannot be filled until payment is received.) For all approved orders, the specialist keys the order into the system. Once all the orders have been entered (or rejected), the specialist sends the marked up PDF file to the Fulfillment Department.
3. The Fulfillment Dept. uses the printed PDF document to pick each order from their inventory shelves and assemble the shipment. A fulfillment clerk uses the system to confirm the order, which triggers the printing of both a packing list and a shipping label, which are used to pack up the order. This process automatically sends billing information to the Accounts Receivable Dept. (The billing process is done monthly. It is not within the scope of this assignment.)
These processes work OK, but not without some problems. For one thing, a number of customers have been exceeding their credit limits, despite the validation check. Also, some orders cannot be filled because the item is either out of stock or no longer available. As a result, some customers are notified days later that they cannot get the part, and this has irritated some customers. Your Assignment:
1. Document the current processes using a suitable flowchart technique (flowchart, dataflow diagram, swim lane flowchart), adding whatever annotations are needed to make the current process easy to understand.
2. Identify specific weaknesses in the processes, including any control issues and inefficiencies.
3. Suggest appropriate changes to improve the processes. These changes may include software modifications or changes to manual procedures.
4. You may want to consider providing a flowchart for the improved processes, as may be needed to communicate your ideas. Note that there is no single approach that is correct but a good submission is one which lays out an improved process in a way that is easy to understand. Suggested Steps for documenting the process:
1. Identify the information (documents, files, etc.)
2. Identify the processes, and show how they relate to the information.
3. Identify the roles (people) for each process.
If anything is ambiguous about the information, document your assumptions and move on.
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