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Sep 3, 2020
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How to Assign Fulfillment in Salesforce

Post by 
Danny Garfield
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peedy fulfillment is essential to customer happiness and retention. While plenty of companies run their fulfillment out of Salesforce — common for marketplace companies and businesses that work with partners to fulfill goods and services — the software isn’t exactly designed for this type of process. Salesforce’s Order Management product is geared toward eCommerce companies. Nonetheless, fulfillment teams have figured out how to customize Salesforce to work for them.

One important customization: getting fulfillment objects, whether you use Opportunities or custom objects, quickly assigned to the correct employees. Keep reading to get tips for designing and implementing your assignment model.


Choosing How to Assign

Before you can implement, you need to know what to implement. Before you know what to implement, you need to understand your priorities.

Priorities

Let’s tease out some priorities common amongst fulfillment teams.

  1. Speed of fulfillment: This is almost always a top priority for fulfillment teams. If speed is important to you, think about what can make your team operate more quickly. What are your bottlenecks? Maybe one of your employees spends their time managing a team queue when they could be working on orders. Maybe some employees lag behind with a build-up of orders while others empty out their backlogs.
  1. Equitable distribution for employees (or Round Robin): This is more common for Sales teams, where employees are compensated with commission. In this situation, providing an even distribution of leads is important to motivating employees, boosting morale, and avoiding complaints of unfairness. If you compensate your employees on fulfillment rate or volume, equity might be something to prioritize when assigning orders.
  1. Special treatment for VIP customers: some teams call them VIPs. Others have tiers, e.g. Tier 1 customers, Tier 2 customers, and so on. Regardless, you might want orders from these customers to skip the line, or you might want them in the hands of your more senior, qualified employees.
  1. Local or territory-based fulfillment: is it important that your west coast fulfillment associates handle orders placed on the west coast? Maybe being in the same time zone makes it easier to manage partners or speak with customers.
  1. Other categorical divisions: many teams will divide into specialties, so that an employee or group of employees own orders for certain verticals or product lines.
  1. Preventing dropped balls: it happens, things slip through the cracks. If you put a premium on getting every order started and fulfilled on time — if it is paramount that you don’t get an email from your support team asking about the status of an order placed three weeks ago — call it out and make this a priority when choosing how to assign fulfillment in Salesforce.

Team Size and Fulfillment Volume

Keep these in mind when thinking through your strategy for how to assign fulfillment.

If your team members are carefully managing a handful of orders at a time, your approach might look different from another team that is struggling to meet demand and crunching through dozens or hundreds of new orders every day.

How you assign orders should be different if you’re managing a small team versus a (virtual) warehouse of people.


Implementing Assignment for Fulfillment in Salesforce

Let’s talk about the different ways to deliver on the above strategies. Keep in mind that the below implementations are not all mutually exclusive to each other.

Manual Assignment

What is it? In this fulfillment implementation, a dedicated team member manages a queue of newly created orders (or opportunities, or a custom object your team might be using for fulfillment). Their job is to take each new order from the queue and assign it to a team member. Often, team members will rotate through this role on a daily or weekly basis. For example, if your team is made up of five fulfillment associates, each one would be responsible for managing the queue one out of every five workdays.

When to implement manual assignment: this approach is best for small teams with straightforward assignment rules, such as a round robin assignment. Consider these advantages:

  • This is good for preventing dropped balls. Putting all new orders in a single queue makes it easy to identify those that have not yet been acted upon. Having one person re-assign those orders reduces confusion.
  • This approach requires almost no administrative or technical maintenance. For example, if a team member is sick or takes vacation, it’s easy to avoid assigning them new orders.
  • Combining manual assignment with a simple assignment rule— for example, Assign west coast orders to west coast employees — is easy to achieve.

What are the drawbacks?

  • Speed. Every hour that somebody spends managing a queue is an hour they are not focusing on fulfillment.
  • This system breaks at scale. One person would have a difficult time keeping up with high order flow. Introducing a second or third person to manage the queue would create confusion and crossed wires, and it increases the team’s opportunity cost.
  • Combining manual assignment with too many assignment rules — such as choosing ownership based on customer tier, order type, and location — can cause problems. It requires the person managing the queue to remember layered logic, which can slow them down or lead to assignment errors that need to be undone.

How to implement: This one is fairly straightforward.

  1. Create a Queue for all new fulfillment orders, you might call it Unassigned Fulfillment;
  2. Create a list view that shows everything assigned to this queue;
  3. When new orders are first created in Salesforce, whether by automation or manual creation, update the process or software to set the owner equal to the Queue you’ve just created;
  4. Publish, print, and distribute the rules for assignment to your team members;
  5. Create, print, and distribute a shift schedule for the queue

Automated Round Robin for Fulfillment

What is it? Automated round robin is exactly what it sounds like. This fulfillment strategy will remove the need for a team member to manage a queue. Instead, Salesforce automation will automatically assign new orders to your team members in a round robin fashion.

You can also add in assignment rules to intersect with the round robin. Some examples:

  • Round robin all orders from the west coast among your west coast employees, and all orders from the east coast among your east coast employees;
  • Round robin all orders from VIP customers among senior fulfillment associates and all other orders among junior fulfillment associates;
  • Round robin all orders among all of your fulfillment associates, but give new, onboarding employees a smaller volume than everybody else

When to implement automated round robin: follow this approach if equitable distribution of fulfillment among your employees is a priority; or, if managing the assignment of new orders is taking up more time than you or your team can afford, and you have fairly straightforward rules for assigning fulfillment.

What are the drawbacks?

  • Automating your assignment will require ongoing maintenance. When fulfillment associates go on vacation or take sick days, somebody will need to update the automation. You’ll have to do the same thing each time you add a new team member.
  • This approach is more prone to dropped balls than manual assignment. Fulfillment orders could be assigned to somebody — an out of office team member, or an employee on a different team — who isn’t ready to receive them.

How to implement automated round robin assignments: This video from a recent Dreamforce conference gives clear step-by-step instructions to use process builder for round robin assignments of any object.

Salesforce Omni-Channel

Salesforce’s Omni-Channel product enables you to route (assign) objects to team members according to any number of properties about the customer, the order, or the team member. It’s a high-powered machine that places a premium on efficiency, but that doesn’t mean it’s definitely right for your team. Chances are, it isn’t.

Keep in mind that Omni-Channel is designed for, and best suited for, high-volume customer service centers. It is most beneficial for employees who are managing many new requests at a time, all day long.

While Omni-Channel is good for quickly routing objects according to overlapping sets of rules, it is known to have bugs and can ultimately do more harm to your team than good. If you do want to implement Omni-Channel, Salesforce’s Trailhead module is surprisingly helpful. Tread carefully.

Questions? Ask For Help

As you can see, assignment models for fulfillment vary from company to company and come in all shapes and sizes. The most important thing is to start with your goals and work your way down from there.

If your questions are not answered above, or if you need help designing or implementing your approach to assignment, please get in touch.


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