Order management is a system.

By Filippo Conforti on May 07, 2024

Oftentimes, technology uses platforms to describe processes or systems. As an example, ERP is an acronym for Enterprise Resource Planning, an extremely broad concept. However, ERP is commonly understood as a platform to manage a company's finances, human resources, manufacturing, supply chain, and services. As another example, PIM stands for Product Information Management, and referring to it as a platform isn't even grammatically correct. Similarly, OMS, which stands for Order Management System, is the process of receiving, processing, and fulfilling customer orders, and is commonly referred to as a single software instead of an ecosystem of applications.

In retrospect, this habit can be attributed to a traditional, monolithic mindset that assumes a single software can handle all aspects of a given process. It is not by chance that the most popular ERPs are some of the largest, most complex, and most legacy platforms on the market, with irremediable high costs and vendor lock-in.

In recent years, some so-called OMSs have followed the same trend. The reality is that one software cannot cover a whole system. The functionality of order editing, pick, pack, and ship can be included in your OMS, but you will still need to coordinate other processes and workflows within your organization.

It is especially true for larger companies that sell in multiple markets. For these businesses, it is crucial to connect multiple WMS and 3PL systems for real-time inventory visibility across all channels and markets, as well as for properly splitting and routing orders across multiple stock locations.

Personalized orders and custom orders are other use cases. When a customer places an order with some personalization options, such as embossing on a handbag or a custom picture on wallpaper, someone in the company must apply the requested customization before the order can be fulfilled. As this person will likely belong to a different department than logistics, the order will need to be sent to that department for customization, along with any customization options requested by the customer.

Once the customization has been completed, the logistics department must receive the product and be notified that the order is ready to be prepared and shipped. For all of these activities, different systems must be integrated and coordinated in order to accomplish the required steps in the order management pipeline.

Throughout my career, I have never encountered a company that worked the same way as another. Every organization has its own processes and workflows. Order management systems should encompass all these processes, not just one platform. As connectivity is fundamental to order management and orchestration, an OMS is by definition composable. A challenge is how to simplify the orchestration of all those components, possibly through solutions that require little or no code.

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