Roundtable: Efficiency improvements and Innovations within Order to Cash

Roundtable: Efficiency improvements and Innovations within Order to Cash Roundup

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Welcome to Forums International & Klass Academy Roundtable where today we are talking about Efficiency improvements and Innovations within Order to Cash.

Speakers are:

Laurie Beagle – Managing Director – Forums International Ltd

Klara Bloor – Managing Director & Founder – Klass Academy

Robert Hutson – Global Credit Consultant – HP Inc

Olga Szlachta – Global Finance Process Owner, Order to Cash – Electrolux

David Liddy – Director World – Wide Credit – Adobe 

Gunther Smets – Global Operations Lead, Credit to Cash – Cargill

The key outcomes of the meeting:

  • The power of efficiencies within the credit industry
  • Developing digital skills for the future
  • Bringing staff onboard
  • Regular KPI & review audits

Efficiencies, in order to cash, is a very large subject area and, in the hour, we discussed a number of ways that efficiencies can be made in credit and how technology has been adapted to benefit businesses. Our speakers shared real-life examples of how their respective firms have changed and adapted and will be covered below:

Building Efficiencies

Most companies are looking into efficiencies post-pandemic and are restructuring and allocating resources, but there needs to be visibility and measurement tracking to assess the true benefit, so how do you measure your personal and team efficiencies? What are the KPIs recommended?

In one company example, a deep-dive analysis of the daily tasks was reviewed to suggest improvement across all aspects of the business. By plotting what an individual does on a daily basis and where their time is consumed, and then enabling them to improve on their effectiveness in the collections process can be very rewarding. Understanding all of those measurements can enable businesses to make a determination on how to drive future efficiencies alongside technology to help.

In addition to measuring the KPIs mentioned above, you can also monitor the technology & automation, in all of the aspects starting from cash application, deductions and collections in these areas. It’s worth measuring the automation level and comparing the cost with the headcounts because this also gives a true picture. In another example, a company benefited from the changes by splitting the efficiency drive into three areas:

  • Efficiency, 
  • Effectiveness
  • What is the performance of the teams? 

All of our speakers felt that undertaking a roadmap approach and auditing their processes, it has really helped to highlight efficiencies without the need to employ more people, often headcount had actually been reduced.

Pandemic Challenges

The pandemic brought unforeseeable challenges for everyone. Some businesses benefited from it, some suffered from it. These are exceptional circumstances; they had an impact on every company’s performance and also on individual team performance. Our speakers spoke about the benefits they have noticed:

One company spoke about how the pandemic had been an ideal proving ground to test the efficiencies that were already in process as the pandemic hit. It also allowed the company to move faster to ensure they were still competitive. Additional working capital was introduced to cope with the new processes and structures and by the end of the fiscal year, they had recovered the working capital costs inefficiencies – so very practical and tangible.

Another example given highlights the power of digitisation and efficiencies in the way in which Credit Teams have been instrumental in shaping change, working together and creating a real partnership extension. Being instrumental in the change process has helped the improvements to be made quickly and effectively and adopted as standard processes with ease.

You need regular communication!

Regular roadmap meetings and reviews of KPI’s are vital to ensure you are on the right lines of efficiencies. By tracking KPIs across regions, countries etc,  you can track what is happening. All of our speakers agreed that communication between stakeholders, staff, departments have improved since the pandemic and would be continuing now that business was reverting back to normal levels.

The Power of Innovation

So, we see that in the fourth, industrial revolution, innovation, and continuous learning is a must. We have enjoyed many benefits of the zoom/team’s innovation in the way credit teams are able to communicate and work remotely whilst still running the day to day. 

Many of the innovations we take for granted today are centered around robotic process automation, and implementation has helped in efficiency. Traditionally headcount has always been under pressure as volumes grow. 

One of the biggest observations noted was that the digital skill can be utilised internally by identifying the staff with an aptitude for technology. External support can help, but staff with a willingness to get ahead can reap the rewards. Building from within is a powerful advantage as it helps to bring staff on board.

Collaboration is key.

The way credit teams collaborate has increased despite everybody having to work remotely. Automation can play a huge rule in helping businesses to streamline their processes and save man-hours and one company noted that 2000 man-hours a year had been saved by developing new automation.

One thing is you need to have digital natives, you need to have a workforce that can actually work and understands the dynamic of working in such an environment. So, moving from a transactional mindset to more of a programming mindset or a portfolio mindset. Operating within the new digital environment is where companies are investing time & effort into building skills and capabilities. 

So, the moral of the story is to look to your staff and invest in skills and knowledge to create a digital culture, which comes down from the top. The credit industry really is looking at digitizing so much of what we’re doing today to protect the industry for the future. If automation and digitisation can be done within the existing headcount, folks that are really keen to make it work and to show results will be identified.

One way a business can maximise efficiencies and innovation is to carry out a capability Matrix Model. Defining the roles within the organization, defining what the skills are and the capabilities that somebody needs to have to be able to continue to be successful within their role. Maybe a collector will not be a collector tomorrow, but they will be a bot operator. 

In conclusion, our speakers all felt that by taking a more data-driven approach or through business process mining and having that digital heat map, businesses can define real opportunity. 

Process reviews and automation can certainly impact the bottom line and it is vital businesses review their internal systems, staff skills and need for change. Digitalisation has got a cost, but the rewards are already being seen in the industry.

We would love to hear your thoughts on efficiencies and digitisation.

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