The order entry process has been refined several times since 2006 with positive changes being made to speed up the process, eliminate waste, and improve communication between the sales and production teams. However, in our ever changing environment, we believed that there were still ways to improve the process and revisit the goals and plans of previous Kaizen events. 

For our latest order entry Kaizen, our team identified the following goals:
1. Simplify customer orders and streamline order entry process.
2. Standardize our system and improve communication for providing order due dates.

Determining How to Meet Our First Goal

For goal #1, our team needed to identify a way to remove all of the comments and instructions on customer orders without losing information needed to process orders consistently in production. First, the comments were condensed to five specific items that always appear in the same order: Order Acknowledgement, Certify, Invoice Requirements, Special and Customer related must haves. Then, the team determined how to route shipping instructions based on the number of characters.

Stage one of implementation included:
• Routing all customer comments and instructions to Kaizen team for edits, removal and unwarranted comments
• Verifying all processed comments against current process requirements before removal
• Identifying all orders that require special processing in the comments section of the order form
• Sending all edits to our Order Entry/Billing Specialist to process changes

To ensure the sustainability of this new process, stage two of implementation included:
• Having the sales team notify the manufacturing team of all process changes instead of adding comments to orders
• Making it the task of the manufacturing team to make changes to required paperwork
• Rerouting record of retraining at completion of changes

Identifying Ways to Meet Our Second Goal

In an effort to standardize our order entry system and improve communication for providing order due dates, the team first identified that all items outside of standard stock products require two days processing time after being manufactured. They defined a process that includes our tubing manager in our Kent facility responding to the daily needs list with an ETA for near future products to be run which would be sent to our Winesburg manager. To properly adjust lead times when necessary, the team then put a process in place for communicating all production bottlenecks to the sales team. Finally, the Kaizen team determined that the sales team should only ask the manufacturing team for due dates if the order is a hard copy. Otherwise, due date is estimated. Quoted ship dates to manufacturing would be based on the date the order is entered.

Review of New Processes

This Kaizen was proven to be a success. With the new processes and procedures in place, order entry has become faster, more streamlined, and has led to better communication between our teams. Thank you to all of our team members who were involved!

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