I've had some time lately to experience a somewhat higher volume of orders with my AC7 site. While that's a good situation to be in, it also invariably brings out the weaknesses in your order management process.

As a result, I've developed a handy system for leveraging a fantastic feature in AC7. This article will explain my unique needs and how those needs have been met using the custom Order Status feature.

The Order Status field
The order status is very unique compared to other status fields in AC7. Every other status field in the system, for example Shipment Status or Payment Status, is hard-coded to a specific set of choices. Even if you could directly or indirectly change those status flags, your options are still limited by the design of the system.
This is not true for Order Status. You can define as many status codes are required by your order processing needs. This gives you an incredible amount of flexibility.

Order Classification
Once your order volume reaches a specific point, you'll need to implement some form of order classification. This step allows a smooth flow of orders through your business while organizing the information in a logical fashion.

Using your own custom Order Status values gives you complete flexibility in classifying your orders into groups. This lets you streamline your order management process by grouping like-orders into that logical fashion you need. Then you can begin to work with specific collections of orders that all require a common action. Or even better, assign specific staff members to be "responsible" for specific order statuses.

The Dashboard
Maybe you haven't noticed yet, but there is a huge feature on the dashboard that makes order classification so easy to do. Found it yet?

Look at the Order Summary section where you see the various order status codes listed. See those numbers to the right? They're clickable! That's right – just by clicking the order count for a particular status, you are instantly presented with a filtered orders list for just that order status.
This greatly increases the usefulness of the dashboard. Now you can instantly see how many orders for each order status AND jump between various order status lists all on one screen.

Getting Started
First you need to logically divide your order management process. For example, my procedures require the following status codes:

    Ready to Enter
    Waiting Response
    Pending Refund
    Charge Verify

Some of these status codes were part of the default AC7 install. The rest were all created by me using the menu option Configure, Order Statuses.

Status Sequence
Notice the sequence of the order statuses I've listed? That's important because it closely matches the flow of my order management procedure. AC7 allows you to easily set the display order of your status codes…it makes any menu option that change an order status directly match that order. This further helps you keep a consistent workflow when managing orders.

Assigning an Order Status
There are a couple of easy ways to assign orders to a particular status code. You can do it from the Tasks menu on the order details screen one at a time. Or, you can assign multiple orders to the same status using the "Update Selected Orders" dropdown on the orders summary page.
So whether you work with a batch of orders or just one order, you can easily transfer them from one status to another.

Go ahead and get your order status codes set up and assign each order to its appropriate status.

The Daily Order Flow
My daily flow involves a tree-and-branch process. Each tree is a starting point for the order flow with some branches depending the action required for each order in that tree.

The first tree is "Problem" orders. Each day starts with a full review of History/Notes for every problem order. This is a great way to make sure the customers order gets the attention it needs. The branches on the "Problem Tree" are just the possible order statuses that can result from a Problem order. These include "Cancelled", "Refunded" or "Ready to Enter".
Starting out your day this way makes sure that customer order problems never get forgotten. Your customer service reps will thank you!

The second tree is the "Unshipped" status and has several branches. This order status is automatically set by AC7 when an order is paid in full, so it's always easy to tell what new orders you are going to have to deal with today. From the "Unshipped" tree, many branches are possible like "Ready to Enter", "Backordered-Full", "Response" or even "Charge Verify".
If the order is verified for accuracy and ready to be placed with the distributor, I move it to the "Ready to Enter" status.

The third tree is what I call the "action" tree. The branches on this tree involve back-end activities that generally don't involve the customer directly. Here is where I will work with the "Refund Pending", "Charge Verify", "Response" or "Fraud" categories.

The final tree is the "Ordered" tree. This tree is pretty simple and usually handled at the end of the day.
Everything I sell is drop-shipped. When I buy product from distributors, I take orders in the "Ready to Enter" status and move them to "Ordered","Backorder-Full", or "Backorder-Partial" status code.

At the end of the day, I need to update shipments and tracking numbers. That's easy to do now, because the only orders that could qualify for shipment-update are all nicely grouped in just those three status codes.

Remember: You can quickly hop between each different order status using the Dashboard Order Summary links

Staff Management
Now that orders are grouped logically, you can begin to assign specific company employees to specific order statuses. I'm doing this now with order entry. My part-time assistant will log in every day and check the "Ready to Enter" status. If it's "0", well then she gets the night off. This gives me the ability to review orders for accuracy beforehand.
My daily job involves getting as many orders as possible out of the other status codes and into the "Ready to Enter" code before the end of the day.
You can apply this same logic to shipping, cash receipts or charge verification depending on your business needs.

Advanced Programming
My next goal will be to automate the order entry to my distributors. Because my orders are well organized, I can easily write programming to pull just the "Ready to Enter" orders and transmit.

Leveraging the ability to classify your orders into logical groups has many benefits. AC7 gives you an well-written and easily implemented way to accomplish effective order management techniques.
Order management is a key cost center with any business. Efforts you make to streamline the order management process will save your business money. It will also reduce the potential for order processing errors and angry customers.