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The Limitations of Invoicing in ERP Systems Like Netsuite and MS Dynamics

Accounts Receivable is more than generating invoices

If your business has an ERP system, there may be pressure to use its functionality to generate invoices. There are some advantages to this, but if you have more than 3000 invoices going out per month you will need an army of credit controllers to manage those invoices unless customers pay automatically by Direct Debit.

For subscription-based businesses and even for SAAS businesses this may be fine – there will be little or no variation in the value and contents of an invoice from one billing period to the next. If, however, you sell products or a mixture of products and services, each order will be different and there’s probably more that can go wrong and cause in invoice to be queried or disputed.

Collection’s activity can also be automated to a certain extent in some ERP systems – just as invoices can be autogenerated and delivered, so can reminders and dunning letters. Where ERP systems often fall down is in being having functionality to handle issues such as processing queries, remittance advices and complaints, claims or disputes.

In addition, they rarely offer much variety in terms of how the invoice is delivered, with complex integration and development needed to set up a customer to receive an e-Invoice via EDI or their AP platform. So, it’s the everything else, apart from generating the invoice that ERP systems are often not capable of supporting, unlike Corrivo which was designed purely for AR and Order-to-Cash teams.

Paper is not yet dead

We live in the digital era, and although electronic invoicing is commonplace there are still some customers that insist on receiving invoices on paper, even if they receive a copy electronically. Some ERPs, like Netsuite’s SuiteBilling module, allow batches of invoices to be printed exported to be sent to a printer and posted, but someone still has to manage that process. There is also plenty that can go wrong between export and envelope. Print runs may be incomplete. The ERP thinks the invoice has been sent but in fact, it is stuck on a jammed printer.

This is not a problem for Corrivo users, because our print rooms around the world make sure that every invoice that is due to go out on paper gets printed correctly and sent the same day. And what is more, the credit controller receives confirmation of such via the Corrivo user interface – the status of the invoice is updated from the point of it being created in Corrivo to put in the post – detailed status tracking provides reassurance. So you could say, that Corrivo users get a fully managed postal service (an optional feature). They can get the same for electronic invoices sent via EDI.

EDI – the economics don’t stack up in most ERP systems

Since all over the world, different customers and networks use different EDI data standards, fields and formats, effort is needed to set up an ERP system to output an invoice for a single EDI using customer. This is costly and cannot always be justified in terms of return on investment if the customer only orders occasionally or on an ad hoc basis. Typically though, customers that use EDI are high value or high-volume buyers, so the cost of setting up the ERP to send invoices to them can be rationalised.

However, Credit Control teams are not IT experts, they are credit management experts, and as with every delivery method, there is plenty that can go wrong with an invoice being sent by EDI – files can be rejected and the entire invoice needs to be checked and recreated – involving a combination of IT resource and credit control expertise. Again, Corrivo users don’t have this issue, as our dedicated team of experts watchfully manages EDI output and troubleshoots on behalf of the business sending the invoice.

Collections is more than a series of letters

ERP systems will often have the capability for the business to set up a sequence of collections letters that are automatically generated to remind customers about invoices that are due or overdue. They don’t seem to factor in collections calls and do not diarise the work and assign it to specific credit controllers to be actioned. Corrivo does. And it gives credit controllers a worklist of calls and letters with all the contact data and invoice history available to click into directly from a dashboard. We believe that ERP systems can help automate key tasks can fail to encompass some of the most business critical elements of credit control – such as which calls to make, and when, based on the business’s credit policy.

Multiple entities

Both suppliers and their customers often have complex multi-entity structures consisting of business units in a hierarchical or ‘sister’ company relationship. Whereas multi-ledger capability is often available to set up in an ERP or accounting system, it may not be easy to use. The user experience associated with it can be complex, making it functionality that causes frustration for credit teams, not insight.

Portal based billing

Only a few ERP systems allow businesses to invite customers to view invoices online at dedicated, branded online customer portals. Whether portals are the primary delivery channel for a business, or a backup, they are indispensable – especially when your business sends invoices using EDI. Portals provide an evergreen human-readable copy of an invoice that can be viewed and downloaded if the electronic invoice did not, for some reason, make it into the customer’s accounts payable system automatically of if associated documents such as proof of delivery notes are not present in the electronic format, thus causing delays with the approvals process at the customer’s end.

Data, data, data

Standard reports and dashboards are often included in ERP packages but creating anything bespoke can be a costly if not impossible exercise. To be useful, data needs to be rich in detail and manipulable. You need to be able extract and shape the data elements needed for your analysis. ERP systems are often blunt instruments when it comes to shaping data. They often have all or nothing data export options, which leave the credit controller awash with data and devoid of insights. Corrivo offers richer, more granular data on customers, their invoices and behaviours, and includes a variety of reporting capabilities, including the capacity to send a custom-built report at scheduled intervals to individuals that are not users of Corrivo in their daily work, such as the CFO or CCO.

Design thinking

Corrivo is designed to help credit teams with all the key tasks their jobs entail, not just a handful of them, and with usability in mind. The user interface is a pleasure to use and helps credit teams work harder with less stress than those ERP systems that require the credit controller to learn a whole new language and go through numerous steps to get to the information that matters to them most.

See for yourself

Call for a product tour and we will show you how Corrivo can do so much more for your credit team than just create invoices and send a bunch of letters on autopilot.

David Harris

Author David Harris

David Harris is the Business Development Executive at Data Interconnect. Dave works with companies planning the implementation of Corrivo, the cloud-based credit control software which improves cashflow, minimises aged debt and streamlines processes for finance departments. If you would like to know more, contact Dave on: Davidh@datainterconnect.co.uk

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