How Collections Fits in the “Order-to-Cash” Cycle, by Bart Frankel

Following is an excerpt from my workshop at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Workshops in Sonoma, CA, Sept. 22-23. I sincerely look forward to meeting many of you at the event to discuss this in much more detail.
First let’s define the Order-to-Cash Cycle (O2CC). It can be defined in an 11-step process as follows:

  • The sales call
  • The credit check
  • Contract payment terms and conditions
  • Order entry
  • Shipping
  • Billing
  • COLLECTIONS
  • Legal action
  • Cash Application
  • Customer Statements
  • Customer payment history

“Collections” is in capital letters because, without it, the majority part of the cash flow process would not be as successful as it should be. The “Sixth Step of the Collection Process” in Phone Power Collections is the nucleus of the other 10 functions of O2CC. If any of these functions go wrong, it would be the responsibility of the Collection Process, not only to fix itself, but to also fix the other 10 steps to make the O2CC process more efficient. No process is perfect, but we all have the responsibility to strive for perfection through best business practices of the O2CC process.
For example:

If the sales department is quoting 45-day payment terms, when in fact your organization’s payment terms are 30 days, then the collections department needs to meet with the sales department to ensure the correct payment terms are quoted to the customer. If the sales department makes a “special deal” with a particular customer for a 60-day payment, then the sales department needs to get prior approval from the finance department and then notify the legal department about the special payment terms for contract purposes.

If order entry is not putting the Purchase Order number on the order sheet for the billing department to put it on the customer invoice, this would be a good excuse for the customer not to pay if this is a customer requirement.

Similarly, if shipping continues to short or over ship items to the customer, this will cause lost revenue or delayed collection. In this case, procedures need to be tightened up in shipping to minimize over and short shipping.

In cash application, if there is a big backlog in unapplied cash, the customer would not receive an accurate customer statement and not pay timely until all unapplied cash to their account is posted. Likewise, all customer statements must be mailed out two days after the month-end closing to ensure timely review, by the customer, for accuracy on their statements.

I look forward to sharing the rest of this presentation with you at the upcoming CreditScape conference in Sonoma this September.

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.

Bart Frankel is a professional speaker who was responsible for a $7 billion Order-to-Cash process when he was the Manager of Financial Services for the Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies for more than 20 years.

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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.

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: