Focus on Optimisation, not Optimism
In a recent blog, I commented that as the world emerges from lockdown and a raft of government support, Credit Teams would do well to focus on optimisation instead of getting caught up in the economic optimism about recovery. The words may look similar, but there is a distinctive difference between a team focused on optimisation and one blindly following an optimistic outlook that things will get better. They will somehow cope with further disruption because they always do. In some ways, the latter is like settling for mediocre when you can see there is room for improvement, and you can see exactly what needs to be done.
Engrained working practices
Some of our clients have brought in new senior executives, specifically with the remit of making the group-wide transformation that transforms the company results. They are big picture thinkers who are paid to move heaven and earth to affect positive and lasting change. This sort of character is one I rarely meet in credit teams and among AR specialists, who tend to be extremely analytical thinkers with a high degree of attention to detail. Indeed, were they not detail-oriented, they would be unsympathetic to the queries and challenges posed by customers over the minutiae of invoice detail that they consider of sufficient importance to withhold remittance over.
But you can be detail-conscious, conscientious person and still care about championing change in areas of your business where you can see that your working practices are archaic and even illogical. What often stops us from speaking up, though, and making suggestions, is a twofold fear – one side partly afraid of taking their proverbial foot off the gas for long enough to make a fittingly thorough case that includes alternative solutions and not just critical or negative finger-pointing; and one side partly afraid of challenging the status quo at all – knowing from experience, that the idea of any kind of change will be met with resistance.
Every business has engrained working practices – tasks that take an inordinately long time to complete and are fraught with challenges. But not everybody in a business is willing to step up and suggest that there might be one or more possible alternatives. That’s why those big picture, move mountain senior executives are needed. You do not need to be one, to support, help, inform or communicate with one. You just need to champion the champions, and if you cannot find them in your leadership team, check out the younger members of your team, who seem more culturally at ease with advocating for change.
What more could your team achieve?
Several startling realisations befall my customers once they shift or begin to onboard to Corrivo. Cloud-based AR platforms with multi-format output, customer portals and rich data extraction tools, like Corrivo, open up possibilities for continuous improvement for three reasons:
- You need all your invoice data managed from one platform to see the big picture
- You need automation and tracking from order to cash so that the platform generates more data points and yields more granular information for analysis.
- Your order and account data sources are usually the sources of invoice errors – and by examined that data in onboarding and eliminated a high degree of problems
So to keep this brief, here are some of their realisations.
- We’ve been spending so much time on copy invoice requests, queries, disputes, and credit notes that we’ve not had the chance to look at what is really causing them.
- Many copy invoice requests are time-stalling tactics – by knowing in Corrivo exactly when invoices have been retrieved from portals or marked as collected, there is a digital audit trail of evidence with which to refute claims and allow AR teams to go deeper into what the real hold up is. These insights are valuable if anecdotal factors that imply credit risk.
- You cannot manage what you cannot measure – but with so much data now available, we can track week by week and month by month shifts that show progress is being made where needed: on key accounts or on department metrics as a whole. Our efforts are now patently not in vain, and we are encouraged by visible progress to keep looking for more tactical opportunities in the data for ways we can help make a difference.
- Invoices had been going to outdated contacts because the ERP system or CRM system was not in sync with the software used for invoicing. One customer account could have been updated several times, but in several places in the business that have not been in synch.
- Small business customers prefer viewing invoices on secure portals and accessing a small archive of past invoices, compared with PDF attachments – especially since they are often missing from the email or misaddressed.
- We can now much more easily and quickly identify and address any issues with invoices to key customers via EDI – the time-lag in finding out and interacting with IT to unpick the problem has gone – everyone now gets on-time invoices, every time and that fear over what we cannot see we cannot manage has lifted.
- Regular reporting is now easy; analysing data and showing progress is now a pleasure and not a much dreaded monthly chore.
If you want some of these realisations and can see yourself in a role where data is available to empower and enrich your job, please get in touch. Other suppliers offer enterprise-grade AR software that doesn’t have all the components that make up a successful e-Invoicing platform implementation and offer a great deal less return on investment.
Driven by Results
Instead of fear of failure or the negativity that ensues when key metrics like DSO rise, when you are empowered by a good platform and rich data, you can continually identify the results you want to improve and go after them, using your detailed analytical thinking skills to pinpoint the precise area that needs to be dealt with – often it’s that one key customer or one sales team that inputs data to orders incorrectly – you can find those needles in the haystack. Still, without the data in one place, you’ll never come close.