Order Management: Best Practices for Your Success
Whenever you place an order online, you trigger a behind-the-scenes process that (hopefully) results in you receiving your order in a timely manner. Order management is an incredibly important process for agencies to master—and luckily, a part of it can be automated.
In this article, I’ll be taking a deep dive into what order management is, why it should be included in any modern client portal solution, and why it’s important for agencies and other businesses to get right.
What is order management?
Order management can be defined as the process of receiving, validating, and fulfilling a client’s order. It’s the point at which your sales funnel ends and a new stage of the client’s journey begins.
The order management process usually consists of the following steps:
Receiving Orders: You receive an order from a client. This can be either an online or offline process, but typically involves targeted information gathering to ensure that you have an accurate picture of what is being requested.
Validating Orders: You check to see if the order is valid (e.g., if the client has enough money in their account to cover the cost of the order). This stage also means following up with clients to request any additional information that wasn’t collected during the first stage.
Fulfilling Orders: You work to complete the order and sends it to the client via email, a secure portal software (like SPP), collaboration tool, or a download link. Fulfillment also means dealing with post-delivery issues like refunds, revisions, and reviews.
Each of these steps is crucial for copmanies to think about as they try to streamline their order order fulfillment process.
Tip: Read our post on why you need a client portal for further information.
What is order processing?
Order processing can be defined as the set of activities that a business completes to fulfill a client’s order. In other words, it’s a subset of order management that deals with the processes that are directly involved with getting a client’s order finished and delivered.
This usually includes:
Scheduling the work required to complete the order
Assigning the order to the team members who will be working on it
Creating any necessary project assets (e.g., a project management system, task list, or team chat)
Updating the client on the order’s progress
Completing the order and delivering it to the client
The order processing stage usually begins when the customer places an order and ends when the order is delivered and the client is happy. In some occasions, simply completing an order does not complete the process because, depending on the service, there could be multiple rounds of revisions (for instance for content agencies).
Why is effective order management important?
Anyone should pay close attention to their order management process. Here are six reasons why it’s important.
1) It helps ensure that orders are fulfilled on time
One of the most important reasons is that it helps ensure that orders are fulfilled on time. This is crucial for agencies because it means they can meet deadlines and keep clients happy, therefore increasing customer satisfaction.
In order to do this, businesses need to have a streamlined workflow for receiving, validating, fulfilling and tracking orders. By taking the time to set this up, they can save themselves a lot of headache down the road.
2) It helps reduce the likelihood of errors and mistakes
Another reason why effective order management is important is that it helps reduce the likelihood of errors and mistakes. This is because each step in the process provides an opportunity to double-check the information that was collected in the previous stage.
For example, if a copmany fails to collect all the necessary information up front, they may run into problems later on when they’re trying to complete the order. This is an issue that can be solved by simply taking the time to establish a clear and concise process.
3) It helps you stay organized and efficient
Effective order management helps businesses stay organized and efficient by allowing them to track all of their orders in one place and ensures that everyone is on the same page.
By being organized, you can save time and avoid frustration. Not to mention, it can set you up for success in the long run by having a solid process to deal with clients.
4) It helps improve the overall customer experience
Effective order management can improve your client’s experience with your business by increasing your responsiveness and effectiveness. If an business is able to quickly and easily respond to their client’s needs, they’re more likely to be satisfied with the work.
5) It helps you scale your business
This rings true especially for agencies and service providers, as order management will become more and more important as you scale. This is because, as you take on more clients, you’ll need to be able to handle a larger volume of orders.
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By having an effective order management system in place, you’ll be able to scale your business without running into any major roadblocks.
6) It helps build trust with clients
Last but not least, effective order management also helps build trust with clients. This is because it shows that you’re organized and capable of handling your orders in a timely and efficient manner.
In short, by taking the time to set up an effective order management system, agencies can save themselves a lot of time and headaches down the road. Not to mention, it will also help build trust with their clients.
What the order management cycle looks like
Now that we’ve covered why order management is important, let’s take a look at what the cycle looks like in practice. We’ll have agencies in mind, but freelancers and other service providers may find some of the insights here very useful in streamlining operations.
As I’ve mentioned before, the order management process begins after an initial order has been placed and ends when the order is completed and delivered to the client. However, the exact steps involved in the process can vary depending on the agency.
Here are a few of the most common steps involved in an order management process:
1) Collecting information from the client
The first step in the process is to collect all the necessary information and payment from the client. This includes things like their contact information, project details, and any special instructions.
SPP makes it easy to collect and keep track of client information thanks to fully customizable order and intake forms. Agencies can use these forms to collect the payment and crucial information upfront. Customers can fill out the intake forms at a later time, which increases conversion because you don’t overwhelm them during the checkout process.
2) Validating the order
Once you have all the necessary information, you then need to validate the order. This usually involves verifying that the client has provided all the required information and that everything is correct. This could be done by a project manager (which you can assign on a per-client basis).
The aforementioned intake forms also trigger an automated email after 24 hours if they haven’t been filled out by the client. Once filled out, the order changes to the Submitted status, signaling to the business that they can fulfill an order.
3) Assigning the order to a team member
After the order has been validated, it will then be assigned to a team member (or team members) who will be responsible for completing the work. To make sure everyone is on the same page, it can be helpful to take advantage of project management and collaboration tools.
Assigning team members to tasks and orders is simple with SPP. First, create an account for every member of your team. Second, create custom roles that correspond with limitations and rules that reflect their responsibilities at your copmany. Third, assign team members to specific services. Thanks to the integrated order management capabilities, everyone will be able to work on assigned orders, filter by due date, and more.
You can also create custom order statuses for more complex projects that require different stages to be completed. For instance, if you’re an SEO agency providing end-to-end services, you can create the following statuses to systemize the whole process of completing an order, including:
Creating the content calendar and choosing the topics.
Creating the brief for the writers after validation.
Delegating all the articles to write.
Editing and fact-checking the articles.
Submitting the articles.
Completing the order.
4) Completing the order
The next step is pretty self-explanatory. It includes all the work it takes to actually complete the client’s order. In SPP, you can create an internal task list for each service individually. This makes it easier for your team to systematically fulfill the order, assign it to the right people, and keep track of due dates.
As you begin to make progress on the order, you should aim to give client updates along the way. This will help keep them in the loop and ensure that they’re happy with your work.
5) Delivering the order to the client
Once the order is complete, it’s time to deliver it to the client. How you do this will depend on the type of order and the client’s preferences. Some prefer just seeing the Complete status in their client portal, others prefer a message from you, which triggers an email notification.
Modern order management software helps you with the delivery in any case. But it’s your job to know your customer and their individual preferences.
6) Following up with the client
The final step in the process is to follow up with the client to make sure that they’re happy with the work. This is an important step in ensuring they’ll become be a repeat customer.
The follow-ups can be automated in SPP. For instance, if you make use of the order ratings feature, set up an automation in Zapier or Make to follow-up on high ratings automatically by posting a message inside the order.
5 tips to improve your order management process
Now that we’ve gone over why order management is important, let’s take a look at how you can improve your process.
1) Use an order management system
The first step to streamlining your process is to use an order management system. This will help you keep track of all of your orders in one place and make it easy to access the information you need.
For example, SPP’s white label customer portal is designed to help agencies keep track of their orders, collect client information, and manage assignments—all in one place.
2) Communicate with your team
It’s important to make sure that everyone on your team is on the same page when it comes to the order management process. Set up regular meetings (or use a project management tool) to ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.
SPP also allows you to privately interact with your team on specific orders.
3) Set up a system for collecting payments
Another important part of the process is collecting payments from clients. To streamline this, set up a system for invoicing and accepting payments. This can be as simple as using an online invoicing tool or setting up automatic payments. SPP can be integrated with Stripe or Paypal, such that clients can pay via our client portal.
For clients that need services that are more custom, you can create invoices manually, share a link with them, and wait for the payment to process.
4) Keep your clients in the loop
As we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s important to keep your clients in the loop throughout the entire process.
Use order statuses to let them know what stage their order is in, and send regular updates to keep them informed of your progress.
5) Review and improve your process regularly
The final tip is to review and improve your process on a regular basis. As your business grows and takes on more orders, you’ll need to adapt your process to ensure that it’s still effective. By reviewing your process regularly, you can make sure that you’re always providing the best possible service to your clients.
Order management FAQ
What is the key feature of order management?
With streamlined order management you can scale your company thanks to systems and processes in place. Everyone knows who is responsible for an order, what the next steps are to fulfill it, and when it’s due.
What does order management include?
Order management is the process from the moment an order is placed and paid for to fulfillment and delivery. It ends when the customer is satisfied with their order.
How do order management systems work?
Order management systems (OMS) are designed to help those who rely on them to deliver capture, deliver and track orders efficiently. When choosing OMS software, it should be taken into account that it fulfills the company’s requirements. For instance, an agency has different requirements than a shipping company who needs to check the available inventory.
You need an order management solution
Order management is a critical part of any business’s operations. By taking the time to set up an effective system, you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches down the road. Not to mention, it will also help build trust with your clients.
With SPP, agencies can take advantage of our powerful order management software to streamline their process and save time.