process mining for order to cash

Order to Cash Part 1: How To Improve On-Time Delivery

An unpleasant dining experience

It’s a special occasion, so you’ve booked a table at a hot new restaurant downtown and you’re taking a group of your favorite people with you to celebrate.

On arrival, things look promising. You’re greeted by the maitre d', shown to a great table, and have your drinks orders taken while you peruse the food menu.

But once the food orders have been taken, things start going wrong. Some starters arrive, others fail to appear. Some guests receive drinks, others get nothing or something they didn’t order. Some even receive their main course instead of their starter.

Insult is added to injury when you attempt to order several bottles of celebratory champagne but are told that you have reached your credit limit and cannot order any more items unless you clear your bill.

That is the final straw. You gather your party, arrange a heavy discount on the bill with the embarrassed maitre d’, and leave in search of a more customer-friendly establishment. On the way, you log on to Yelp and give the place a terrible review.

It’s obvious that this is a badly run, inefficient restaurant. Yet many of its would-be patrons are blissfully unaware that, while not as chronically disastrous, similar inefficiencies exist in their own companies.

The gold standard: On-time delivery

In principle, business is a simple concept: one side provides a desired product or service, the other side provides the requisite compensation. The steps that take place between an order being placed and money being received are known as Order-to-Cash, or O2C.

In this three-part series, we’re looking at three common problems in the O2C process and what can be done to fix them, starting with on-time delivery (OTD).

It hardly needs explaining that customers expect delivery of goods and services to be on time. The problems with late delivery are obvious, but there are also some instances when early delivery can be problematic, although these are rarer.

The gold standard of OTD is the delivery of goods or services on the customer’s requested date. Businesses need to monitor this closely: not only is it a key factor in determining customer satisfaction, but contracts frequently impose penalties for late delivery. In some instances, clients may even seek to recover costs for losses they have suffered as a result of failure to deliver on time, in full (OTIF).

Customers who receive their orders late are much more likely to have a negative perception of their experience with your company. Regular failure to meet OTD targets is a guarantee of customer complaints and bad reviews.

Root causes of poor OTD

Where such regular failure exists, it is a key indicator of problems elsewhere in the company operation, either in the supply chain or in the processes used to gather and fulfill customer orders. 

Delivery blocks

The avoidance of delivery blocks is a key factor in OTD. Good processes are essential and, in practice, that generally means a high degree of automation. Whenever manual intervention is required, it negatively affects efficiency, as does any failure to automate a process that could be automated.

Credit checks

That said, automated blocks can also arise, most commonly in the form of arbitrary order limits and credit checks.For example, if a customer is allowed $1,000,000 worth of orders, and they order $1,000,000 worth of goods, everything after that point will be automatically blocked, even if they’re a reputable partner who always pays on time.

Likewise, a company may limit its exposure to bad debt by mandating credit checks on new clients. This is a sensible precaution but can cause problems of its own. An inefficient credit-check process can take so long that potential customers grow frustrated and take their business elsewhere. 

Inventory issues

Inventory issues are another common cause of delivery blocks. An item is out of stock or available in insufficient quantity, but lack of awareness meant that the order was accepted and now an explanation must be made to a disgruntled customer.

Efficient monitoring of inventory (and of supplies used in creating and maintaining inventory) will mean fewer unhappy customers receiving calls and emails explaining why their orders will be delivered late or not fulfilled at all.

Solving complex problems with Process Intelligence

The above problems are multi-faceted and can be complex, but they do have a common solution: Process Intelligence.

In the past, the best practice available was for businesses to retrospectively analyze their conduct and try to work out as best they could where something had gone wrong or could be improved.

But that approach has inaccuracies built in: it depends on the perceptiveness of the people undertaking it and it practically guarantees that things will be missed. There is not a person on earth who can track and understand activities within hundreds of thousands of ongoing orders simultaneously and then afterwards provide completely accurate analysis of what worked well and what did not.

In contrast, Process Intelligence gives the whole story. Using the Celonis Process Intelligence Graph, you can analyze, improve, and monitor your processes — helping you to understand exactly where value is hiding in your business, and exactly how you can capture it. To make your Process Intelligence Graph, Celonis extracts and standardizes your process data from any data source, all without replacing or interfering with the tools and applications your company already uses. Then, we layer in a decade of our own standardized process knowledge and AI. The result? Unparalleled Process Intelligence that shows you where value is hiding and how to extract it, including within the order to cash process flow.

Process Intelligence delivers results that positively impact on-time delivery. In any cost-focused enterprise, that’s a benefit that cannot be ignored.

Up next in part 2: Find out what happens when orders don’t even get to the acceptance stage—and get a real-time, clear-picture view of why. Or jump ahead to part 3 to learn how Process Intelligence can help your eBusiness’s EDI systems run more efficiently.


Celonis helps you drive process improvement. Across your entire business. At speed. Companies all over the world use Celonis to optimize their processes, boost their business performance, and lighten the load on mother earth.

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