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Returning Thoughts

Returning Thoughts

by Paul Rupnow, Andlor Systems

Reverse Logistics Magazine, Edition 65

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How to do a Quick Review of your Reverse Logistics Software Systems

Are your Reverse Logistics Software systems meeting the needs of your company and your customers? Here is a quick review list of some key questions that can help you understand if your systems are helping you capture some of the key opportunities provided by "Best Practice" Reverse Logistics software systems. This quick review will help you establish some of your key needs and help you understand: a.) What you need to help you process and manage your returns and b.) The ability of your current systems to help you meet your goals and take advantage of your Reverse Logistics improvement opportunities.

Reverse Logistics Goals and Opportunities

It is helpful to first establish "what are my goals” or to list "where do I feel the opportunities are to generate income, reduce costs and free up capital/cash or provided better customer service" within your existing Reverse Logistics systems. Many of the key opportunities in Reverse Logistics revolve around:
1. Customer Service: Can I service my customers faster? Do my customers have full visibility of their return process?
2. Recapture Value: For each item I receive back into my facility, am I converting it to the highest possible value on final disposition? Am I getting my items returned and processed quickly so I can resell them for their highest value? Am I capturing all the credits possible when I can return goods to my vendors?
3. Valid and Entitled: Are all the items I am processing entitled to a warranty or credit? Are all warranties valid? Am I ensuring all credits are valid and matched to receipts?
4. Reduce Inventory: Can I minimize inventory levels of: 1. Items I am waiting to receive, 2. Items I have received (Work in Process) 3. Items I have finished processing (Finished Goods), 4. Replacement Stock, 5. Repair Parts Inventory. Can I speed my Inventory Turn time? Can I avoid purchase of new goods for replacement units or parts?
5. Reduce Processing Costs: Are there opportunities to reduce my processing costs? Am I ensuring that by reducing my processing costs, I am not reducing my ability to achieve higher recapture or full vendor credits?
6. Plan: Before an item arrives at your facility, do you know exactly what plan you have to process that unit to achieve and recover the highest value, regardless of what condition it is in when it arrives?
7. Visibility: Can you see exactly the state, status and plan of any given unit in your Reverse Logistics process, even when it is being processed at one of your partners?

Quick Review Questions for Your Current Reverse Logistics Software Systems

Best Practice Reverse Logistics software systems work in conjunction with your ERP and your partners systems. In addition to helping achieve some of your goals above, a specialized Reverse Logistics software system can provide you with “Out of the Box” functionality to help you fill some of the process gaps, managing gaps or missing functionality to enhance or tie together the loose ends in your system. Some of the questions below will help you to identify opportunities:

Do you have real time visibility of each item as it is processed through all stages of your system (including the time it is processed at partner sites)?
Do you have the ability to bind together all the data from your partners in real time?
Do your customers have real time visibility of their returns? Can you make delivery time promises? Do you have the visibility and capability to resolve issues immediately?
Do you have detailed and reliable data collection at time of receiving?
Can you setup special data capture, processes and workflows for each item you receive? Does your system provide you with the opportunity to create optimal workflow to collect data, reduce labor, determine disposition, speed conversion and recapture the highest value for each item you receive?
Is it quick and easy to train your users and partners?

Can your business team setup, manage and monitor complex workflows specific to each item or family of goods you need to handle?
When you need to change processes or workflow or rules, do you have to wait for programmers to complete the changes?
Is your system strong on customer satisfaction, but not strong on “corporate satisfaction” areas, such as processing the item at and after receiving to optimize value recapture of the returned goods?
Do you spend a great deal of time creating excel spreadsheets?
Do you spend a great deal of time reconciling data?
Can your business users create instant, relevant reports?
Is it easy to integrate, capture, share or provide your partners with data?
Do you have to rely on your partners system to provide you with the tools you need to manage your Returns? Are they adequate?
Can your system alert you of issues? Can you set up your own alerts?
Can you monitor states, workflow and costs of each item from time of request, through the receiving, triage, repair or refurbishment process and conversion to a finished good for resale?

The questions above should help you perform a quick review and assessment of your current Reverse Logistics software system and help you identify opportunities to improve your system or assess a specialized Reverse Logistics software system that can help your company save money and achieve higher recovery values on your returned assets.
Paul Rupnow - Director, Reverse Logistics Systems, Andlor Logistics Systems Inc.
Editor - Reverse Logistics Professional Report Business Insights and Strategies for Managing Product Returns
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