*Ding-dong* *Ding dong*

A smiling delivery person is at the door asking for a signature. In a matter of moments I’ve confirmed that I received my package with an easy swirl of my finger on their smart phone. A couple of taps later and the driver nods goodbye, on their way to the next stop.

In about a minute the delivery driver has created valuable benefits for the company he or she represents. All in the form of electronic proof of delivery (POD). POD helps to end payment disputes and reduce returns. And it’s one of the biggest requirements for companies who use their own vehicles and staff to deliver products directly to their customers.

Ever considered how intertwined Delivery operations are with ERP systems as a whole?  The reliance on ERP systems data and processes for delivery operations is massive.

Here are just a few examples:

Proof of Delivery

What exactly is being delivered?  Generally what’s being delivered are Orders – Sales Orders – from an ERP system. If a customer refuses delivery of one or more items, that Sales Order is going to be subject to Back Order rules. And Back Order rules are typically maintained in – the ERP system.

If the driver collects a payment, that money needs to make it’s way into Accounts Receivable – part of the ERP system.

Route Planning and Optimization

Delivery operations are always looking to minimize labor and fuel costs. A big part of this is creating effective route plans. Route plans are based on, among other things, Delivery addresses – typically stored in ERP systems as ship-to addresses.

Truck Loading and Unloading

Getting trucks efficiently loaded and out on the streets is paramount to a successful Delivery operation. The products to be picked, staged, and loaded onto vehicles for delivery are all relying on the same data. Data such as Item Maintenance, Warehouse Codes, Bin Locations, Bar Codes, Order Numbers, and more are used for all methods of shipment. And all that data is stored in – the ERP system.

When the vehicles return to the loading warehouse they need to be emptied of products from short delivered orders or return orders. Sounds like ERP, doesn’t it? And yes, WMS (warehouse management systems) definitely can come into play here too.

Route Selling

Some companies load their trucks drive customer to customer making sales right off the truck. It’s common for companies selling to grocery stores, convenience stores, among others. These customer facing transactions need to be properly priced (they may even use promotional or volume pricing). Any guesses where the resulting sales invoice needs to end up? Bingo – ERP system.

As you can see, Delivery operations have a huge interdependence with ERP systems and data.

It makes you wonder, if Delivery operations are not connected to the ERP is a reliable way, how complete is the ERP information you’re relying on?

How good is the Delivery process if it’s disconnected from the ERP?

How much can a business scale (and maintain quality) if there are 5, 10, 20 or 100 trucks making deliveries? And what happens when they’re delivering from multiple warehouse locations?

Is the delivery driver still smiling?