Tag Archives: accounts receivable

Esker: Growing the P2P Suite in 2018 and Beyond

Company Background

Esker was founded in 1985 with the vision of helping businesses deliver paper documents electronically. Today, more than 30 years later, they have stayed true to its roots and are now one of the larger document process automation vendors in the market. Over 85% of sales now come from its on-demand (SaaS) solutions for Purchase-to-Pay, Order-to-Cash, and document delivery. Headquartered in Lyon, France, Esker also has operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

Based on the strong growth of its cloud-based solutions (+21% YOY), Esker’s 2017 sales revenues increased by 15.3% over 2016. Another interesting stat from the earnings release is that the number of employees in R&D increased by 18% in 2017, and now represents an impressive 22% of the total workforce.

During our briefing, Esker spoke to us primarily about the newer solution for Purchasing but also covered the Accounts Payable solution as well. Below is a brief description of each solution.

Accounts Payable

Esker’s sweet spot has always been its AP automation solution for the mid- and large-market. The cloud-based AP solution is designed to eliminate paper, reduce manual processing of invoices, lower costs, and improve efficiency. As you would expect they can easily handle most invoice formats and delivery vehicles. The solution can automate the AP process from invoice receipt to 3-way matching, and through to, and including, approval and transfer for payment. They have also automated the exception handling process, which can automatically be routed around based on customisable workflows and business rules.

Esker offers adapters for a number of ERPs including SAP, Oracle eBusiness Suite, and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Over 50% of Esker’s AP customers have SAP as their backend ERP, not surprising since Esker has long provided integration to SAP. Two years ago they introduced an adapter for Oracle and this has resulted in good growth in this market segment as well. It is important to point out that Esker’s workflow sits outside of an organisation’s ERP, something they say is one of the major reasons clients select Esker for their AP automation.

Purchasing

Based on requests from its existing customers, and sensing market demand, Esker launched its on-demand Purchasing solution four years ago, in order to be able to offer full P2P functionality. The majority of Esker’s customers utilising the purchasing solution already had Esker’s AP solution or were sold the full P2P suite in the last four years. Esker Purchasing allows enterprises to automate the full P2P cycle, from the purchase request all the way through the payment process. Esker automates purchasing workflow and integrates seamlessly to the Esker AP solution. They provide out-of-the-box, role-based dashboards tailored to the specific needs of the user, and allow for easy switching between the AP and Purchasing solutions. Esker provides functionality to easily manage internal catalogs and is in the process of launching ‘punch-out’ catalog capability that will be available later this spring. Eskers purchasing solution is currently best suited to handle an organisation’s indirect spend but, Dupuy-Holdich said their vision is to possibly handle direct spend as well sometime in the future.

Final Thoughts

After a successful 2017, it was great to get an update from Esker to hear how they achieved such positive results and learn what they are currently working on and plans for the future. They have recently provided integration to SAP S4/Hana, Dynamics NAV 2017, and early payment discounts. Future plans include support for SAP S4/HANA Cloud and NAV 2018, punch-out catalogs, and contract management. They are working to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in all of its solutions. The ‘Esker AI Engine’ is currently being used to improve global field recognition, for an intelligent splitting of invoice batches, general ledger auto allocation, and improved supplier recognition on invoices and purchase orders. Esker R&D is looking to utilise AI to improve the functionality of its solutions wherever possible. Esker understands the importance of being able to offer a full P2P suite and is motivated to bring its purchasing solution on par with that of the AP solution. Esker has produced solid revenue growth over the last couple of years and has a plan in place to keep that momentum going in 2018. Ardent Partners is very interested to see where Esker goes from here and the traction they are able to achieve in the full P2P market.

 

Source: http://payablesplace.ardentpartners.com/2018/03/esker-growing-p2p-suite-2018/

 

Trek Bicycle Reduces DSO Thanks to Esker’s Global Collections Management Solution

Sydney, Australia — April 10, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced that Trek Bicycle, the largest bicycle company in the United States, has automated its global collections management process using Esker’s cloud-based solution powered by TermSync technology. The initiative went live in March 2017 and is currently being released to Trek customers in Europe and the United Kingdom. 

Trek has 16 international distribution centers and 5,000 independent bicycle dealers around the world, with 60 percent of its business coming from abroad. With Esker, the company finally has a global collections management solution, utilised by 32 collectors in 18 offices worldwide, to streamline critical accounts receivable (AR) activities such as payment reminders, account lookups, call logging, customer portal payments, collections forecasting, root-cause analysis and task management collaboration.

“We didn’t have a standardised collections tool before Esker,” said Andrew St Clair, global director of financial services at Trek Bicycle. “Everyday tasks, like sending reminder letters, were all done manually. We made it work, but there was no real consistency in our process. It was crucial that we had a true global solution and the other credit and collections vendors just didn’t have Esker’s international expertise.”

In an effort to meet its customer’s needs, Esker partnered closely with Trek to translate the interface into 14 different languages and even helpedin the design of a more user-friendly statement to send to customers. “Our worldwide rollout was a huge deal, and Esker kept up with us every step of the way,” added St Clair. “It was a true partnership.”

Benefits of automated collections management

Following the implementation of Esker, Trek has achieved numerous benefits, including:

  1. Reduced past-due percentage by 4 percent
  2. Reduced Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)
  3. Improved collaboration — users can now go into
    dashboards have helped in my day-to-day work, giving me access to indicators that greatly facilitate my daily monitoring.”
  4. Enhanced visibility — customisable monthly management reports can be accessed directly from the dashboard
  5. Increased productivity — several staff members were able to be reallocated to more business-critical positons
  6. Higher satisfaction — customers now have access to a self-service portal to make payments, manage preferences and more

“The discipline that Esker drives in the credit and collections process is phenomenal,” said St Clair. “In my 20-plus years, it’s the best product I’ve ever used based on its simplicity and ease of navigating. Esker has been extremely well-received within the walls of Trek and even with our customers. Everything we thought we were doing right before … Esker’s simply made it better.”

About Trek Bicycle

Trek Bicycle is a global leader in the design and manufacture of bicycles and bicycling-related products and accessories. From Tour de France-winning road bikes to tricycles designed to introduce the next generation of riders to the possibilities of pedal-power, Trek has a bike for nearly every rider. Trek believes the bicycle can be a simple solution to many of the world’s most complex problems, including obesity, traffic congestion, and climate change, and is committed to breaking down the barriers that prevent people from using bicycles more often for daily transportation, recreation, and inspiration.

You’re Trying to Manage What With Your Email System?

automated business process

3,352

That’s how many messages currently reside in my inbox at the start of this blog. I am not ashamed nor proud of this stat, but it’s a fact. I’m envious of those that can manage their mailbox like it’s a task or to-do list but, as much as I’ve tried, this simply hasn’t worked for me for a variety of reasons. And I know I’m not alone in this.

Many strategies have evolved over the years for me to efficiently find and manage my inbox. Key word in that last sentence…evolved.

New technology is great, but as it becomes more established in our everyday lives, both personally and professionally, it can morph into a solution it was never intended to address.

Email is not a workflow tool, business automation or document repository.

Organizations have come to me to optimize a variety of business processes that currently reside in their email system…sales order management, help desk tickets, master data requests, invoice approval, customer issue resolution — the list goes on and on.

Regardless of the process, where’s the visibility? Who has it, when did they receive it, what is the status, where does it need to go to next, how long did it take and why isn’t it completed?

No matter what industry you are in or department you report to you probably have encountered something similar.

As more and more emails are received, the potential for information being lost, misplaced, accidentally deleted, or unintentionally ignored increases.

This post is not a magic pill that is going to solve your overwhelming inbox. It is simply a statement that there are many great tools developed to help streamline business processes such as:

  • Accounts Payable Automation
    Allows businesses to eliminate the manual pains of traditional AP invoice processing thanks to intelligent capture, touchless processing and electronic workflow capabilities. The end result? A simpler, more efficient way to manage cash flow and generate new revenue.
  • Order Processing Automation
    Automation with workflow tools, customizable dashboards and self-service portals allowing customer service leaders to bring accuracy and security to every order processed and can eliminate backlogs from one day to the next.
  • Accounts Receivable Automation
    Completely automates the sending and archiving of invoices according to customer preferences and regardless of media type – postal mail, fax, email, EDI and publication on a web portal.

Now, it’s just a matter of doing your research to find the right automation tool for what you are trying to manage that best suits your organization’s requirements.

3,361…time to get back my email.

Center of Gravity

Recently, I came across an excellent blog from one of our partners, Intelestream. The post was about  Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and some things to consider when implementing a CRM solution. Something that really jumped out to me was what Intelestream referred to as the “Center of Gravity.” By this, they mean that in every business environment the workflow will revolve around two or three key pieces of software that have a huge impact on the business.

Where this can become a problem for a company is if the software being used is the wrong tool for the job. What can make it worse is that the longer employees have been using any software, the more resistant they are trying something new. This is true even if the new software solution is specifically designed for their business process and has obvious advantages. Changing the Center of Gravity within a department is not easy but it is an important consideration when looking to implement any new software application and ultimately improve how a department does business.

Here is an example. Many companies use Outlook for their email. This is a very effective tool for communicating, however, it is not always the right tool for the job. I have seen a number of companies that use a shared inbox to receive and manage orders that their customers send to them via email. Outlook is great but it was never designed to be a queue for processing incoming orders. There are limitations when you have the wrong tool as your department’s center of gravity. In this example, the critical information is on an attachment. It is not easy to search of a specific attachment or priorities orders. You may see hundreds of emails but how many are orders? How many customers asking for express shipping? Besides the limitations with any tool that is not designed for this specific business process, you also have limitations and the communication with other applications or interoperability. To learn more, check out the blog: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Manage Your Business Process via Email.

If you are looking to improve operations within your company ask a department what is their Center of Gravity. Then ask yourself is that the right tool for the job? Consider what this department could accomplish if they had the proper tools for the job.

How Technology Plays a Role in Order-to-Cash Success

Whether its customers calling in about late shipments or your warehouse accidentally shipping incorrect items, sales order disputes can impact customer satisfaction. Order disputes can arise as a result of several different situations, such as:

  • Price variations of the goods that appear on the order vs. the invoice
  • Sales tax and shipping costs inaccuracies
  • Keystroke errors from manually entering orders
  • Differences in the terms of sale on the PO and the invoice

As a consequence, payment delays occur because customer service teams have to reprocess the orders and exceptions. Customer service is strapped for time as it is, and it’s challenging to take the time needed to adequately review all customer purchase orders for accuracy before processing.

Unfortunately, inaccurate orders result in inaccurate customer billing. If customer service had the time to manually review orders line by line for accuracy, there would be any number of exceptions found (e.g., PO with the wrong price or unacceptable terms and conditions of sale). No matter the exception so begins the tedious task of rejecting or reprocessing the order. Emails back and forth, requests made for an updated order to be re-sent, inventory put on hold, credits applied, verification for price adjustments … and this can go on and on for weeks.

Getting orders entered right the first time shortens the timeline to billing. By streamlining your entire procedure for customer communication, order processing, invoicing, and collecting payment for an order you’ll speed up cash flow, cut costs and serve your customers better in the long run. So, where is this Utopia found?

In the world of inbound customer sales order automation. From having visibility of all received sales orders into a single queue (by email, EDI, fax orders) to automatically extracting data from the document (e.g., customer name, PO number, ship to address, quantity, etc.) and comparing the data against information stored in your ERP, automation provides customer service a streamlined approach to approve orders or handle exceptions.

Technology like sales order automation has a role to play in implementing best-in-class strategies for order-to-cash (O2C) success. No need to avoid new technology from fear of costs, effort or change — these investments are necessary to remain competitive. Order automation can be implemented at a reasonable cost for companies processing as few as 500 orders a month and scalable to handle over 500,000. Speeding up the overall O2C process means speeding up your cash flow, reducing costs and running your business more efficiently overall.

Efficient O2C processes play a large role in the customer experience and company success —  unfortunately, they can be a challenge to attain when you have different teams working towards different goals. Download your copy of this eBook to start creating a positive customer experience with a proactive solution.

 

How to Start Building a Successful Customer Experience Program

By the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and quality as the key brand differentiator. In other words, brands that don’t work on improving their customer experience will be left behind.

Customer experience is more than a trend or buzzword — it will play a pivotal role in the future of marketing and has an insightful ability to predict where a company will be 5-10 years down the line. What should you be doing, if anything to prepare for this change?

First, what is customer experience?

On a basic level, customer experience (CX) refers to how a customer perceives their interactions with your company. How does your customer feel at every touchpoint they have with you, from marketing to sales to support? CX is ultimately defined by the consumer, which means businesses need to actively adapt and set themselves up to exceed expectations.

Should you be investing in this?

Joe Hanousek, Esker’s Customer Experience Manager, believes that every company needs to be tracking their customer touchpoints and working towards continually improving that process. He often says that: “Seventy percent of senior executives in companies believe that CX is important. In my opinion, the other 30 percent shouldn’t be executives.” So much of the B2B focus is on lead generation instead of improving customer experience, although most people are well aware that it is less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. Companies mistakenly start looking into customer experience as a last resort once they’re suffering, but customer experience is best as a proactive approach, taken when business is growing versus lagging behind. The graph below shows just how valuable an investment in improving customer experience could be.

How do you begin?

If you’re just getting ready to work on improving customer experience, aim for C-level sponsorship. It won’t go very far unless there are people at the top behind it, so do the research you need to convince someone to back you up. Most executives are aware of the importance of CX, but still aren’t taking active steps to improve upon it. If you haven’t already started in a few years, it’ll be too late.

Next, be sure you’re ready to invest a significant amount of time and human resources into building a solid customer experience program. At Esker, the process took a full year to go from conception to having a Customer Experience manager and a team in place. It’s a good idea to have at least one person fully devoted to customer experience and multiple people from different departments committed to being a part of the CX improvement process; otherwise, CX can easily become a task that is swept away on an already busy to-do list. This will also depend on executive buy-in, as far as whether the need to have a customer experience manager or team is understood.

Finally, it is important to communicate the goals of the customer experience program throughout the organizationEveryone should be on board and kept up to date. As Joe puts it: “It’s not C-Level people or managers that make customer experience better — it’s the staff working directly with them.” Educate, train and update all those who interact with customers at any level on what needs to be done to improve those important touchpoints.

The beginning stages of our customer experience journey.

Joe’s biggest recommendation for those starting to work in CX? Change your perspective. “It is not an area for problem customers to go to, but rather a way to prevent customers from ever having the problem in the first place,” he explained. As staff focus on offering solutions to immediate problems, the CX team should be looking into why those problems happened in the first place, and if there is anything that could be done to fix that.

Customer experience goes beyond customer satisfaction or happiness. A successful customer experience program will work to prevent problems before they arise, delighting your clients past the point of mere satisfaction. CX has become more of a trend in the past two years, but it is definitely here to stay for the long haul. If you have any questions about the process we went through to build our customer experience program at Esker, or about customer experience in general, leave a comment below and we will respond to you!

Promega France Enters the E-Commerce Era with Esker’s Accounts Receivable Solution

Sydney, Australia — February 27, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Promega France, a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry, to automate its accounts receivable (AR) process in anticipation for the e-invoicing to public administration requirements scheduled to take affect in 2019. Thanks to Esker’s cloud-based Accounts Receivable solution, Promega France has been able to modernize its invoice processing process and improve customer service efficiency.

“By automating our AR process, we have taken an essential step into the era of e-commerce,” said Annick Dahlem, customer service manager at Promega France. “Esker has not only enabled us to improve and simplify our accounting process, but has also allowed us to prepare for upcoming changes. We particularly appreciate the collaboration with Esker France which facilitates our relationship with the support team.”

Benefits of AR automation

The solution was implemented in just six weeks and has enabled Promega France to send customer invoices as soon as they are prepared by email (in PDF format) or postal mail from Esker’s production facility. Fully integrated with Promega France’s SAP® ERP system, Esker’s solution also facilitates invoice tracking and archiving via an intuitive web interface available to all company stakeholders.

Since implementing Esker’s solution, Promega France has achieved numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved customer service representative (CSR) performance, freeing them up to spend more time on higher-value tasks
  • Increased efficiency when searching for invoices thanks to electronic archiving
  • Better information sharing — everyone involved in the process can collaborate on the same invoice
  • Improved activity tracking through customizable dashboards
  • Implemented sustainable development in the invoice routing process

“Over a quarter of our private sector customers now receive their invoices in PDF format, a welcomed approach that will most certainly continue to increase,” said Dahlem. “Esker’s customizable dashboards have helped in my day-to-day work, giving me access to indicators that greatly facilitate my daily monitoring.”

Thanks to Esker’s solution interoperability with Chorus Pro, the French public administration platform, Promega France can confidently anticipate mandatory e-invoicing to public administrations in January 2019. The public sector represents close to 70 percent of Promega France’s order volume.

About Promega

Promega Corporation is a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry. The company’s 3,500 products enable scientists worldwide to advance their knowledge in genomics, proteomics, cellular analysis, drug discovery and human identification. Founded in 1978, the company is headquartered in Madison, WI, USA, with branches in 16 countries and over 50 global distributors. Promega France has been present in the Lyon region since 1992 with 45 employees, and many distributors in overseas France, Maghreb, Egypt, Greece and sub-Saharan Africa.

 

8 Accounts Receivable Management Strategies That Might Just Get You Promoted

Despite what a lot of accounts receivable (AR) leaders may still believe, “We have an ERP/accounting system” is not a viable credit and collections management strategy. Not in 2018, anyway.

Other departments (sales, marketing and accounts payable to name a few) have been more open to adopting complementary digitized solutions that provide added value beyond the traditional systems. It’s no great wonder why: They’ve proven to be effective tools for maximizing time, money and resources while creating a more transparent and collaborative work environment.

Nevertheless, AR appears content to settle for the status quo. Manual invoice delivery. Using sticky notes and spreadsheets for post-sale collections. No real analytical analysis. To put it in style terms, AR is out here in 2018 still rocking a mullet and mustache — and not in some hip ironic way, either.

Want to be the savior your behind-the-times AR department so rightly deserves? Here are 8 simple and sensible strategies that will get your team on the path to improved AR performance and maybe, just maybe, lead to a well-deserved promotion in the process.

Strategy #1: Greet technology as a friend.

Contrary to what’s commonly believed, automation is not some technological wrecking ball designed to wipe out and replace all of your existing people, processes and technology. AR can’t and shouldn’t be fully automated. The idea is to automate what should be automated.

Think of today’s best-in-class AR solutions more like a highly specialized team member. Except, this employee not only helps you get paid faster, keep costs down and improve customer relationships, it doesn’t take any time off. If that’s not an idea to get behind, I don’t know what is.

Strategy #2: Think beyond DSO.

Using metrics to improve performance is not a new or radical concept. But in AR, besides “DSO” and “Amount written off” the data analysis pool is laughably shallow. AR departments that find ways to go beyond DSO are able to effectively track performance, hold their teams accountable, and ultimately get the results they desire.

Want specific examples of these key metrics? Download the eBook found at the end of this blog post.

Strategy #3: Make e-invoicing a priority.

Switching to e-invoicing is in everyone’s best interests — both company and customers alike. It’s just a matter of creating a specific plan to facilitate the transition to e-invoicing. This can include strategies as simple as:

  • Setting defined goals (e.g., increasing e-invoice delivery via email by 20% over four months)
  • Collecting accounts payable (AP) email addresses from all new customers
  • Reaching out to existing customers in order to convert them from paper to email

Strategy #4: Confirm invoice receipts.

“I never received the invoice.” How many times have you heard this from a late-paying customer? With the right AR automation solution in place, this problem disappears. Users can track invoices from beginning to end and know exactly when the document was received.

Taking it a step further, the solution gathers data that your team can also use to set up workflow rules. For example, your team could be altered to any unopened invoice (based on when it was sent, dollar amount, customer group, etc.) and reach out to the customer. Simple, easy and effective.

Strategy #5: Get a clear follow-up plan.

Most companies would love to contact their customers before 15-20 days past the due date. In reality, that’s a tough ask … especially in a manual environment that’s strewn with bottlenecks. Automated AR solutions have a better way of doing it. Their slick payment reminder capabilities ensure that friendly emails are sent out automatically to notify slow-paying customers. No human intervention necessary. No manual headaches or hassles.

Strategy #6: Focus on team efficiency.

It’s not uncommon for as much as one-third of an AR rep’s time to be spent on prioritizing contacts and searching for contact-related information. That’s a lot of time/money/production lost, my friends. Automated AR management solutions have an elegant solution to this problem — giving staff members a clear snapshot of their day via customized to-do lists. Not only will they know what to do and when to do it, managers are also aware, and can make decisions accordingly.

Strategy #7: Evolve with your customers.

You may have noticed that people nowadays seem to prefer interacting with small, glowing rectangles than actual human beings. Your customers are no different. Instead of speaking to a rep or getting put on hold, they would rather make an invoice payment or get a question answered online, often from their mobile device, and on their own time.

Self-service tools offered through automated AR solutions help customers do things like:

  • View invoice information online
  • Make payments electronically
  • Apply credits to open invoices
  • Sign up for auto-pay functionality
  • Get questions answered rapidly

Strategy #8: Use root-cause analysis.

How do problems like late payments, customer disputes and deductions happen in the first place? Good question. With an automated AR solution, you can finally get the answer. Users can identify, track and categorize the root causes of some of the most common payment-related issues, and over time, even help them pinpoint customer patterns as to help avoid them in the future.

Care to learn more about these 8 AR management strategies? Download the eBook, 8 Accounts Receivable Management Strategies to Make Your Process Best-in-Class. It goes over the same strategies covered here … just in a bit more detail. If you liked this blog post, you’ll love the eBook. Enjoy!

5 Mind-Numbing Tasks Your Accounts Receivable Team Never Has To Do Again

Money moves fast, from you to your vendors and from your customers to you. So why are Accounts Receivable (AR) departments so often stuck in outdated, time sucking practices that create unnecessary errors, waste time and prevent your valuable talent from focusing on their essential work? Why not automate those practices and make it easy for your staff to do what they do best–help your customers pay you!  You can revolutionize your AR operation by automating these 5 tasks:

1) Sending Snail-Mail Invoices. This is the 21st century. Last year 60% of companies preferred electronic invoicing, and for obvious reasons…it’s easy to track, lightning-fast to process and very more likely to be paid than a paper invoice that can be misplaced or simply thrown away. If you are reading this, your organization almost certainly already has the digital tools to distribute invoices by e-mail, including clickable links to allow for instant payment.

2) Sending One-Off Payment Reminder Emails. Customers sometimes need to be reminded to make their payments, but it can be confusing to figure out who gets the reminders and how to prioritize them.  Should you be reminding people with the highest balances or the ones that have been outstanding the longest? How can you tell if someone is overlooked? Automating your reminder list with customized messaging makes sure everyone gets an appropriate reminder at the appropriate time, and no one gets accidentally added or left out.

3) Prioritizing Collection Calls Manually. Collection calls are as tricky to prioritize as payment reminders, and your customers like them even less.  If you can generate collection call lists automatically, along with personalized call scripts, your AR team will be more successful and your revenue stream will flow more abundantly. Automated AR systems also allow you to track balances from purchase through the late payment and collection process with a minimum of manual intervention, which reduces the risks of billing errors and payment disputes.

4) Fielding Every Single Customer Inquiry In Person. While your organization is right to pride itself on its personal touch, your customers don’t have time to wait on hold while your staff rushes to answer phones. Automating your AR service options so that customers can use an online portal to resolve simple problems shows that you value your customers’ time and that you have highly-trained people on the phones when they’re needed. Tasks that your customers may be able to complete using an automated portal include:

  • Update contact and account information
  • Review account and order history
  • Simple troubleshooting, guided by online manuals
  • Register non-urgent questions and concerns via email

5) Compiling Data to Generate And Send Reports. AR isn’t just about collecting money, it’s about reporting how you get it and where it came from. Compiling reports manually not only takes an enormous amount of time, it’s very easy to make a mistake.  Converting your AR reporting from manual compilation to an automated reporting tool will give you more control over the accuracy and timeliness of your reporting, as well as the option of creating and revising reports far more quickly.

You hired your Accounts Receivable team to manage your company’s central revenue stream.  When you automate their purely administrative tasks so that they can focus on building customer relationships, you invest in their success and yours.  When your customers encounter problems with their invoicing or their payments, it reflects badly on your organization.

Why Finance Leaders Should Kill Spreadsheets

Capturing and handling data from accounting solutions to ERP systems has certainly evolved. We’ve moved from information viewed on printed pages to cloud-based business intelligence (BI) tools.  With new ways of processing information faster and with greater visibility, why in the world are so many executives still using Excel spreadsheets to manage critical accounts receivable (AR) and collections management data?

Mining information from different systems stored in various areas (such as an Excel-based aging report, collections call notes, ERP open invoice information, and cash application systems, just to name a few) is still exported, sliced and diced, and often manually compiled and pushed into a report. Then accounting has to dig into their email inbox, or navigate the share drive like Ferdinand Magellan, to gather the spreadsheets. It’s an upgrade over paper or not reporting at all, but still restrictive and does not provide immediate, actionable intelligence that today’s businesses need to remain nimble. While important data points that, once collected, deliver actionable BI, gaps in information exist that systems typically don’t capture (e.g., why customers are paying late, disputes or deductions, etc.)

Lack of visibility in AR and collections management is particularly apparent when managing:

  • Past due customers. A collector may receive a promise-to-pay, but the customer didn’t live up to their promise, and no follow up notes or reasons were captured. All the while, that customer continues to order product. Now you have capital tied up in the open AR, along with additional product being produced or procured from the supply chain.
  • Collections forecasting. Without the ability to easily uncover and report on late payment trends, recurring issues, and spot underlying problems, an accurate collections forecast is near impossible.

Accounts receivable automation maximizes ERP and other business application investments you’ve made by combining data from all systems to populate dashboards and centralize workflow. Introducing automated processes with algorithmic rules and strategies helps eliminate tedious tasks and allows you to focus on things that make a greater impact. No more spending countless hours capturing data from multiple solutions and putting findings in a spreadsheet.

Automation helps you prioritize activities and aggregate data — giving you the insight to perform pertinent tasks immediately. Details can be shared with your customers, making them self-sufficient, creating a greater user experience and providing immediate, automatic collaboration. And guess what? You get paid faster and avoid costly write-off or risk!