The Sales Order Entry (SOE) function, also known as Customer Order Entry, is the Supply Chain gateway for external demand flowing into the farm fulfillment process, and ultimately to the production planning system somewhere in the back office. As technology slowly invades farm delivery processes, SOE has currently been relegated to the accounting function, with a manual hand-off to the back office. This makes sense in some measure because sales orders eventually become billing, and that is when money starts flowing, assuming the product flowed in a manner that made the customer sufficiently happy.
But increasing competition is going to change this picture substantially.
The back-office planning system needs to get the SOE delivery information sooner rather than later. And the back office needs to know in a timely manner if the delivery requirements are going to change or perhaps have already changed. Why you might ask?
If the product quantity and delivery timing is far enough in the future, the farmer may alter planting schedules. However, if the lead time is shorter, then harvesting and shipping schedules are the remaining levers to make it happen. But information and timing are very important.
To react effectively and efficiently to changing demand, the scheduling function must have easy access to the supply side, in the form of harvest schedules, and the demand side in the form of shipment schedules. If these two business schedules reside in different systems, one in an accounting system and the other in a spreadsheet, then the reconciliation process will require an individual to perform a manual comparison. And then both systems need to be updated with the changes.
And that is why farm production systems need to include SOE as part of the planning system.
What is the scope of this new visibility and how should it be presented to the scheduling function?
For starters, we recommend at least 4 things:
Customer data including, as a minimum, the name and delivery address or addresses. We refer to this information as Cards.
Sales Order Doc, which includes the Sales Order Document Number, Customer Name and shipping address and Sales Order Type. Sales Order Type would be a value that distinguishes between Restaurant Delivery Schedules, CSA Delivery Schedules and other things such as Roadside Stand for example.
Sales Order Lines, which includes one line for each discrete product shipment quantity and date, within each sales order.
Shipments to Harvest Reconciliation Screen. This screen is the nexus of delivery schedules, harvest inventories and unharvested product growing in the field or greenhouse.
The reconciliation screen should bring together the following schedule inputs.
For a Specified Product Number: Arugula
|Inventory Input Type||Quantity||Date|
|All Unshipped Sales Order Line Detail||Ship Quantity||Ship Date|
|All Scheduled Plantings||Expected Harvest
|Harvest Feedback||Actual Harvest Quantities||Within Shelf Life Days of the current date.|
All of the data displayed by the grid above exists in the control of the farmer. So the question for the Business Minded Farmer is:
Can you leverage the information you already possess, to make better business decisions?
Chris Trow has been immersed in the application of Production & Inventory Management systems and techniques, and the design of computer based manufacturing planning solutions, for more than 20 years. Worked in traditional manufacturing at General Electric as a systems analyst, software designer and project manager. Transitioned to independent employment as a consultant for small manufacturers and developed a small manufacturing production and inventory management solution that is still in use today.
Chris discovered the need for a manufacturing solution for vegetable growers when joining the Roxbury Farm CSA in Columbia County New York, shortly after it was founded in the mid 1990’s. The current cloud based solution for vegetable and flower growers was implemented in 2013 based on the application used at Roxbury Farm. BASc Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto Certified Fellow, Production & Inventory Management Master Industrial & Management Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.