The right time, not the best time
This phrase is close to my heart. I often find people sure they want and need to improve their AR function or an area of credit management, and yet, they hesitate to take that small step. We have clients that hung on until forced to change for their survival and wished they had done it sooner. Covid-19, for instance, prompted some clients to fast forward their implementation of Corrivo after months of thinking about it. We helped those clients go paperless from their warehouse office just in time for the first lockdown last March. It was a lifesaver for that particular business. Had they waited any longer, they’d have suffered enormous consequences financially and operationally. Reputationally, they could not afford this, and, as a UK branch of a global group, they could not let the side down.
More cautionary tales
When timing became critical, the client adopted change with far less internal debate and forethought than intended, but it worked. Why? Because they had great support from a team of practised professionals that cared and moved mountains to make sure they hit their targets for conversion to eInvoicing and met their own expectations of what the rollout could deliver. Now, they could have spent months in meetings planning how to work around the constraints of their Stock Management database, but they didn’t. This same desire to know everything before the event is something that has caused many businesses to stall their back-office investment. Tying the change in your Order to Cash systems to changes elsewhere in the IT value chain can be fatal. It can cause your budget to be subsumed into a budget defined by ERP changes, not by Order to Cash efficiency.
There are cases where organisations have tried, instead of connecting to a purpose-built Order to Cash platform like Corrivo, to use the ERP vendor’s very limited package. All IT eggs in one basket – one that is designed for stock control, not accounts receivable.
What else can go wrong?
In other cases, adoption of a full end to end Order to Cash platform has been put off because the companies found it almost impossible to compare two different vendors – their offerings were so seemingly different, yet purported to be covering the same functions – those throughout the B2B or B2B2C Order to Cash or Invoice to Cash process. In addition to the functional scope not being easy to compare, different vendors’ pricing structures can be at wild variance. If you want a simple comparison, you are forced to issue an RFQ with tabulated business requirements and responses, but this too can be overkill for a credit team looking to get an initial idea or ballpark estimate of both the cost benefits and scope of various solutions. Having project managers, procurement managers, and IT managers in the discussion early on can steer you off track from examining the real heart and soul of what you want an order to cash platform to deliver.
Making it easier to get it right
Here are the key questions we consider that credit management leaders should answer and keep in mind when talking to vendors like us.
- Is it easy to use? Ensure the day-to-day users will enjoy using it and won’t have a steep learning curve and a difficult transition to adopt it.
- Can we work with this company, or rather will they work well with us? Software as a Service – the clue is in the description – make sure you are confident the vendor will give you the service you need, accommodating your own company’s nuances, special requirements and cost limitations, or whether the vendor will charge heavily and take ages every time you want to change or improve something. Will they adjust, or will you have to put up with a suboptimal fit for your business?
- Is this future proof in terms of compliance, corporate structural changes and IT system changes? In other words, should you sell into a country like India, where there are special tax rules requiring pre-authorisation steps, or into a European country about to adopt the PEPPOL standard, which in itself is constantly changing, will this solution flex to meet your future needs?
- Can I start small and add functionality as my budget and requirements change? If the solution is not modular, you may be stuck with a huge project and, with it, a huge risk – project design as well as product design, should be able to mitigate risks and pace the change to suit your business.
- Is it worth it – what is the ROI? Sometimes, companies are not looking to get a clear ROI – they just need to change. Usually, cost is a key factor, so look for vendors that are confident about how the payback will work in your particular case. There are usually initial set up costs plus ongoing fees. Whether you calculate an ROI on one or both is up to you, but be clear about what you need out of the solution and find out how the vendor suggests your ROI will work.
- What is the cost of not investing in changing now? My final recommendation is this – if you don’t change now, will a new compliance requirement come and bite you? Will a major customer’s switch to eInvoicing leave you incompatible or having to muddle along with a less than ideal or expensive EDI solution? Will your business fall behind its more tech-savvy peers and suffer as so many companies have done when their AR operations are not equipped for the future?
My offer to you
It would be my pleasure to talk through these questions to help you clarify your thinking – or even review your current solution to see if it really is fit for purpose or missing some vital features that would make all the difference to your productivity, performance, profitability and Finance metrics. Contact me by email or look me up on Linked In. I’d be happy to have an informal chat – even if it reassures you that you’ve made the right investments to date and you’re equipped and prepared for what is around the corner.