Opportunity For Senior Level Credit Execs to Learn From Other Credit Execs

CMA has created an opportunity for top credit executives among different vertical markets to get together to learn from the successes (and failures) of other top credit executives at the CMA Credit Executive Symposium.  This unique event allows senior-level credit executives to gather for a full day roundtable facilitated by 30-year credit veteran Robert Shultz. At the event, you’ll discuss high-level business issues and trends with your peers in many industries, compare best practices, and get tips on valuable resources to help you improve your credit operations.

The agenda for the Credit Executive Symposium is highly personalized and built from input from all participants so the issues are timely and relevant to all attending. Attendees of the event will engage in round-table discussions, thought-provoking breakout sessions, and guest presenters.

Past discussions have included collections, supply chain risk, shared services centers, international risk mitigation, performance metrics, hiring & retaining staff, fraud, and cyber security.

The event takes place on April 11, in Garden Grove, CA, the day before the 2017 Spring CreditScape Summit.

Our facilitator, Bob Shultz, is managing partner at Cutting Edge Business Resources & Solutions (CEBRS). Bob will incorporate trending issues with topic requests from attendees to challenge the group in an intimate, dynamic think-tank environment that is heavy on interaction, low on PowerPoints. You will explore questions that matter most in your career and to your organization in roundtable discussions with seasoned credit peers from many industries. For more information about the event, contact Mike Mitchell at mmitchell@emailcma.org or download the event flyer here.

Two Billion Reasons Why You Need to Know the anscersX Multibureau Trade Credit Report, by Bob Shultz

anscersX Report

Do you have to make tough credit decisions quickly? How would you like to have the power of over two billion trade credit experiences available to you from the three most reliable sources on the planet? What about having credit scores and valuable facts on a company’s history at your fingertips immediately when the credit request lands on your desk?

In today’s competitive environment, informed credit decisions must be made quickly to get product out the door. Your company expects credit to support Sales and drive revenue. At the same time, credit decisions must be within your company’s risk tolerance with a likelihood of prompt payment.

This was the thought behind CMA’s anscersX Multi-Bureau Trade Credit Report. anscersX provides all the above and more from Dun and Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax. You choose which bureaus you want to see. You pay only for what you get. The report is online and delivered to your workstation within seconds of ordering it.

anscersX provides all of the information you need to make most credit decisions. A Paydex Score from Dun and Bradstreet, Intelliscore from Experian and a Business Risk Score from Equifax, along with over two billion current trade lines, trends, details about the company and public records of suits, liens or judgments.

There is a side benefit to those of us in credit who must defend our decisions. Using powerful information such as the anscersX report will help justify any decision you make. If there are questions or push-back, you are locked and loaded to illustrate why you came to the conclusions you did.

Consider the anscersX report if any of the following are true:

  • Your monthly requirements do not justify a costly contract with one or more of the bureaus.
  • You are looking for a more efficient and cost effective way to order reports from multiple bureaus.
  • You have a contract with one of the major bureaus but want reports from additional sources.
  • You have a limit on the number of reports you can order from a bureau, anscersX can conserve usage.
  • A multi-bureau report will give additional insight into a higher risk prospect or customer.

The best thing you can do for yourself today is to go to anscers.com and check out anscersX. It is brought to you by Credit Management Association for the benefit of the credit management community.

Robert S. Shultz is a Partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC, and a frequent speaker at CMA-sponsored and other credit events.

Do You Understand the Credit Department’s Role in the Cash to Cash Cycle?, by Robert Shultz

A company’s cash flow is dependent on a lot more than just credit policies and collections.  Every credit professional plays a larger role than just managing these areas.  If you want to add real value to the total operation, you must understand the “Cash-to-Cash Cycle.”  How is the cash conversion cycle measured?  What are the components that drive performance?  What departments or stakeholders are affected by your department’s decisions or delays?  How does your department impact overall company results?

To start, you have to see liquidity management through the eyes of a Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer, CEO or Owner.  They are concerned with how departments work together to meet company strategies and goals.  To them it is critical to balance inflows and outflows, to meet forecasts, and minimize the need for borrowing.  They want to get products out the door to meet or beat competition with excellent service and speed.  To manage effectively, performance tracking and transparency are a must.

At the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Workshops, powered by UTA, we will be exploring how a credit professional impacts each component of the “Cash to Cash Cycle”; Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO), Days Payables Outstanding (DPO) and of course Days Sales Outstanding (DSO).  We will dive into the causes of delays in “cash days” and what you can do about them.

You will be able to share your challenges and ideas with a panel of Chief Financial Officers and your peers.  We will discuss actions you can take to improve performance and demonstrate your value.  Come to CreditScape and better understand cash to cash management.  You will leave with an action plan for improvements you can start immediately.

 

This is just a surface view of the cash-to-cash cycle. Each of these points and more will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Workshops in Sonoma, CA on September 22-23, 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Robert S. Shultz is a Partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC. He will also be moderating several of the panel discussions and workshops at CreditScape.

Coming Soon: How to Implement the Elements of High-Performing Credit Departments

We work in a “do more with less” world. Practitioners in the credit department are impacted more than most. Dedication to process improvement is the only way to achieve high-performance results in the face of ever-shrinking budgets.

At CMA, we’ve had numerous conversations and phone calls from members who tell us that they are trying to do more with less, or that their departments have been downsized. As a response to those conversations, CMA has created an event that is designed to help credit managers with all levels of experience and expertise to leverage the knowledge and experiences of practitioners who have implemented elements of high-performing credit departments, with a complete 360-degree overview of why, when and how to implement those elements to help your department achieve its maximum performance.

The 2016 CreditScape Fall Summit and Workshops, powered by United TranzActions, will feature two days of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals. The goal of CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners at all levels of experience and expertise to come together to solve problems and provide solutions for their real-world issues they face at work.

Over the next few days, three of our panel and workshop moderators for the event, Robert Shultz, Bart Frankel and Paul Beretz, will be guest blogging about the cash-to-cash cycle, how to get to “yes” in credit decisioning, and how collections fits into the cash-to-cash cycle.

We invite you to join Robert, Bart and Paul at the Fall CreditScape Summit and Workshops, powered by UTA, September 22-23, 2016 at the Doubletree by Hilton Sonoma (or view the website at www.creditscapeconference.com) , and to read their blogs, as the information you’ll receive can help you save time and resources in the long run.

What elements of the high-performing credit department are you the most interested in learning about? We welcome your feedback.

Other related articles:

CMA Announces CreditScape 2016 Fall Summit and Workshops Schedule

For those credit professionals who are interested in implementing process improvements in their credit departments, striving for a high-performing credit operation, you won’t want to miss the CreditScape Fall Summit, powered by UTA, September 22-23, 2016 in Sonoma, CA.

We work in a “do more with less” world. Practitioners in the CreditScape are impacted more than most. Dedication to process improvement is one of the only ways to achieve high-performance results in the face of ever-shrinking budgets. The CreditScape Fall Summit provides a powerful opportunity to hear from highly successful credit experts and share decidedly effective best-practices with credit colleagues from a wide range of companies and industries.

Experience CMA’s unique, highly-rated event that balances a mixture of subject-matter expertise, peer-to-peer experience, and credit industry solution providers in a safe, facilitated workshop setting. CreditScape gives attendees an opportunity to identify problems and formulate solutions that can be taken back to the office. There is no substitute for the value of sharing real-world experiences with peers outside your company and outside your industry.

Following is the schedule of events, speakers and sessions for CreditScape:

Thursday, September 22

8:00 – 9:30 AM Bonus pre-conference Maximize Your Membership session

Instructor: CMA Staff

Learn from CMA staff how you can be sure that you’re maximizing your CMA membership investment by using all of the applicable services that can help your credit department.

10:00 – 10:30 AM: Intro – Cash-to-Cash: What is it and why does it matter?
Facilitator: Bob Shultz

Whether they realize it or not, credit and collection managers have an impact on the entire cash-to-cash cycle. 30-year credit veteran, consultant, and UCLA Extension instructor Bob Shultz will kick off the Fall Summit with an explanation of the cash to cash cycle, then lead attendees through workshop exercises designed to help benchmark their own processes.

10:30 AM-NOON – The Role of the Credit Department from the Viewpoint of a CFO
Facilitator: Bob Shultz
Panelists: CFOs, VP of Finance, Treasurer (TBD)

CFOs will discuss how they see the role of the Credit Manager in the cash-to-cash cycle, the greatest challenges they face, and their expectations of Credit Managers to address those challenges.

NOON-1:00 PM – Lunch

1:00-2:30 PM – What parts of the Cash-to-Cash process can you improve?
Facilitator: Bob Shultz
Panelists: Tim Cratty, CGCE, Director of Customer Financial Services, Jackson Family Wines; Tom Sacher, CCE, Director of Corporate Credit and Collections, Watsco; Kim Howard, West Coast Director of Credit, Cemex

Bob Shultz will lead a panel discussion with credit practitioners about what processes they have successfully improved, how, and report the winning results:
• Pre-checks for the Sales Department
• Automating new customer onboarding
• Metrics and reporting across department lines
• Quote: Pricing and Terms
• Sales Forecast
• Inventory to ship
• Accounts Payable
• Order Management
• Credit and AR management
• Invoice Admin
• Collection and Disputes
• Cash Admin
• Scoring model
• Portfolio analysis

2:45-4:15 PM – How do you get to “Yes”
Facilitator: Paul Beretz, CICE
Panelists: 2 Credit Professionals (TBD); Walter Trask, EVP, Comerica Bank

The Credit Manager’s job is to find a way to say “yes” to every credit sale. Bringing over 30 years of global experience in credit, finance, and management, Paul Beretz, CICE, will lead a panel of practitioners and other experts to discuss how they get to “yes” while protecting the company’s ability to get paid. Discussions will include:
• Payment processing/check guarantee
• UCCs
• Credit insurance
• Letters of Credit
• Spot factoring
• Alternative financing options
• Legal Enhancements/guarantees/escrow agreements

4:30-5:15 PM – Workshop Exercises

5:15-6:00 PM – Demo Marketplace

6:00-7:00 PM – Networking Reception

Friday, September 23

8:00-11:00 AM – Phone Power: 6 Steps to Collection Success
Facilitator: Bart Frankel

Bart Frankel was the highest-rated trainer at last year’s Fall Summit, and now he’s back in an expanded training program that will focus even more time on role-playing the toughest collection calls. As the Manager of Financial Services for the Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies for over 20 years, Bart was responsible for a $7 billion Order-to-Cash process. Participants will work with Bart and with each other to learn his highly successful 6-step process for getting paid. Bart’s advice is: improve processes early in the Order-to-Cash cycle to mitigate or even avoid collection efforts on the back end. This presentation is a must attend workshop for credit and collection teams!

11:00-12:30 PM – Using Third-Party Vendors to Create Efficiencies (Speed Networking event)

Meet in small groups with service providers whose offerings could allow your credit department to realize efficiencies in areas such as accounts receivable management, collections, payment processing, workflow management, cash application, and more. Service providers will lead the discussions in their areas of expertise. You choose the meetings and discussion topics around solutions that would help you and your company.

12:30-2:00 PM – Lunch and wrap-up session; share your takeaways!

NOTE: All speakers and contents of this program are subject to change. This schedule last updated August 1, 2016

To learn more about the conference and to register, visit CreditScapeConference.com.  We hope to see you in Sonoma!

CMA Promotes Credit Management to the Next Generation at UCLA Career Fair

In an effort to explain credit management to the next generation, CMA’s partner Quote 2 Cash Solutions LLC, represented by Robert Shultz (Partner) took part in a panel discussion and career fair at the UCLA Extension campus on May 14. Titled “Career Success in Accounting and Finance,” Shultz, one of three Panelists, emphasized the importance of the credit function, fielded questions and later spoke privately to students interested in learning more about opportunities in this field.

“CMA believes it is imperative to attract young talent to the credit management profession. In talking to some of these students at the event, I am encouraged about the future generations of credit managers,” CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell, who addressed questions at the CMA booth, said. “Our goal is to help ensure that there are plenty of great new credit management candidates for CMA members to hire.”

Shultz commented, “my most interesting take away was the one hand raised, out of the eighty or so attendees, when I asked how many understood the functions of a corporate credit department. This sort of outreach is an invaluable step to increasing interest and awareness of the credit profession.”

Here are a few photos from the event.

IMG_0842 IMG_0858 IMG_0864 IMG_0867

So Your Software or Automation Initiative Has Been Approved, What Do I Do Now?, by Robert S. Shultz

Define the Project Purpose and Scope? It is Not all about the Technology

Any software or automation improvement addresses defined business objectives that impact multiple areas within the company. In order to pull off these changes effectively all stakeholders affected should be aware of and involved in the coming changes. Depending on the project and the company, the target audience may differ. As an example: You can’t consider changes in credit and collection software without involving such areas as sales, customer service/order administration, project managers, operations and IT, while keeping senior management informed. Every project has a defined mission that requires cross-functional buy in. Realistic objectives and timelines have to be agreed to. Roles have to be defined.

This takes planning and cross-functional communication. If you are heading the implementation team you will need a clear vision on how the changes will support company goals and performance expectations. Processes, policies and procedures may need changes and streamlining to best leverage the new tools.

Ready Fire Aim… Don’t get bogged down with long term major system implementations. They are hopes and dreams.

A solution provider will have to be vetted that meets your company’s requirements. This will involve a well thought out selection process where both you and the provider understand each other’s business needs, strengths and weaknesses. You will need a basis for your selection. Try to make this as objective as possible, looking at each potential provider with the same criteria. A well rounded score card that lists and weights your critical needs. The selection process should provide all the stakeholders involved an opportunity to participate. If you get buy in at this stage, there will be much less push back later.

No system is perfect or addresses all the needs of all the users. Often it is best to reduce expectations in order to actually get the basics in a reasonable time-frame. Credit and collections are tactical issues: The needs are immediate and have to be addressed today. Complex ERP implementations are strategic in nature. By the time the specialized needs of a Credit Manager are addressed, too much time is lost, the department fails to gain efficiency and results have not improved.

Making the Choice Between an ERP and a Specialized Solution

ERP solutions are robust and have many company-wide advantages. They are also complex, expensive and have long implementation cycles. Let’s face facts. Credit Departments typically have fewer headcount that other areas supported by an ERP. The value in spending research and development dollars for a minimal number of users isn’t in the cards.

Companies specializing in credit and collection software, billing automation, document management and cash administration, address the issues you are trying to resolve on a full-time basis. Credit and collections is not an after-thought, it is their market and revenue stream. They continually focus on user needs and spend R&D dollars to improve their product. Many have user groups you can participate in, that have a real impact on the next release. Implementations are easier and of shorter duration. Cloud based solutions require minimal use of your internal IT resources. Costs are surprisingly low.

Many are faced with this obstacle, “Oh we are putting in or upgrading our ERP next year. It will do fine for you. We don’t want to do any other projects in this area until after the ERP is up and running. We are going to implement the ERP straight vanilla. Anything you need will be in Phase 2 (i.e.: Never)” If that is the case, push hard for incremental improvements and results in a relatively short time-frame.

A Credit Manager has a strong position. You should illustrate a good return on the investment. Show how other departments and most importantly, your customers will benefit. An interim fix with a decent ROI will pay for itself before the ERP initiative is complete.

When the day comes and the ERP vs an interim solution is looming, do a gap analysis between the interim solution and the ERP. You are likely to be surprised by what you already have.

At the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting, you will be able to discuss how to choose a solution provider. Expert Panelists will give you insight on their experiences, victories and losses. You will have ample time to ask questions and network with others who are, or who have faced, the same technology challenges you have. This is definitely a good use of your time.

CreditScape
This is just a surface view of what it takes to convince management an automation initiative should be approved. Each of these points and more will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming CreditScape meeting in Newport Beach, CA on March 24-25 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Robert S. Shultz is a Partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC. He will also be moderating several of the panel discussions and workshops at CreditScape.

Read the other posts in this series here:

Justifying Credit and Collections Automation to Your Management, by Robert S. Shultz

Today’s Business Reality:

In today’s rough and tumble business environment the need for expense management, working capital and liquidity are key CEO and CFO concerns. Gone are the days of ready access to financing and smooth collection of accounts receivables. Timely management information must be available showing how the business is doing and where the opportunities for improvement are. More than ever companies must increase the productivity of limited order to cash management and staff. All this must be delivered with maximum customer service and satisfaction.

Companies must be able to extend credit intelligently, generate accurate and timely invoices, and quickly identify and correct customer disputes. Management needs to track performance metrics, trends and customer issues. Companies that do these things well are in a position to shorten their overall cash conversion cycle, reduce the need for borrowing and bring a company the liquidity it needs to survive and thrive.

There are many cost effective automation solutions in the marketplace focused on these issues. Many of these are cloud based. This simplifies implementation and few internal IT resources are needed. Even though the costs are relatively low, the functionality is amazing. Credit and other financial managers will find that the first hurdle is to convince management the suggested solution meets the acid test. They have to answer the question, “Show me the Return on Investment” (ROI).

Where to Start
The first step for a credit manager is to determine when volumes and performance challenges justify automation and the expense of a solution. The solution could be developed internally or acquired from a third party provider. The cost and likelihood of success with an internal option really depends on the resources available in the company.

Following are ten things to consider that fit any automation initiative. The following is not intended to be a complete list. It covers the key points you may include in a recommendation to senior management.

How would you answer the following question: What are the Compelling Needs for Automation?

In order to convince management to invest in any automation you must demonstrate the need in clear, real world and understandable terms. Here are ten things to consider:

  1. Is excessive overtime a routine in the department? Are you using temps to supplement permanent staff?
  2. If you benchmark Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) transaction volume is yours is low by comparison?
  3. Is your company growing, merging or acquiring but you are not able to hire additional staff for your department?
  4. Is Sales continually upset that credit reviews take too long? Is business lost as a result?
  5. Are collection results below expectations?
  6. Is your department stuck in a morass of unworked deductions?
  7. Are invoices often inaccurate or go out late?
  8. Are Sales and Customers impacted by order hold and release delays?
  9. Is management unsatisfied with performance measurements, reporting and the ability to status Customer balances?
  10. Is it impossible to accurately forecast cash flow?

As you can see if any or all of these factors are in play you will get the attention of your management with opportunities for significant improvements.

Where is the Money!
Soft savings such as process efficiency or improved customer service can help justify expenditures for automation. Actual hard cost savings will enable you to calculate the “ROI” and how long it will take to get there.

You should consider such things as:

  1. An increase in transactions per FTE will reduce the need for overtime, temps or permanent staff.
  2. Based on forecasted company and transaction growth automation will reduce the need to add staff.
  3. Automation of the credit approval and review process will speed decisions, avoid lost business and could reduce past dues and write-offs.
  4. Increased collection efficiency will bring in cash earlier, reducing borrowing costs, enabling the company to take all Accounts Payable discounts, provide working capital to invest in profitable opportunities.
  5. Timely or self-service invoicing will reduce invoicing delays, identify errors earlier and optimize the payment cycle.
  6. Cash administration/application improvements will identify customer payments earlier, avoiding unnecessary collection expense and speeding up the order hold release process, improving revenue and profits.

 

This is just a surface view of what it takes to convince management an automation initiative should be approved. Each of these points and more will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Annual meeting in Newport Beach, CA on March 24-25 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Robert S. Shultz is a Partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC. He will also be moderating several of the panel discussions and workshops at CreditScape.

Read the other posts in this series here: