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5 Skills Every OTC GPO Needs in the Age of AI: Secret to adidas, Cargill, Huntsman, McCormick and Danone’s A/R Success

An insightful summary of how these GPOs made their Order To Cash future-ready while reducing costs, improving metrics and keeping their customers happy!



Defining GPO’s Responsibilities

While the adoption of Global Process Owner is constantly on the rise, there is still a lot of mist around defining the core responsibilities of an Order-to-Cash (OTC) GPO.

According to the text analysis of 100+ job descriptions for OTC GPOs, here are some common expectations:

  • Establish and communicate a clear vision
  • Drive global deployment and adoption of the process, with regional and local requirements customization
  • Develop and translate strategy into operational goals, objectives, and process roadmaps
  • Identify necessary resources (people and capital) to support the implementation of these strategies.
  • Assess opportunities for continuous process improvement and expansion

“In order to meet the requirements of Global Business Services, it is essential  to make use of technological platforms.”

   – PwC Report2

GPO’s Dilemma: Inability to Leverage Technology

Order To Cash Executives today believe in the potential for technology. Here are the standard benefits expected from RPA and AI:

  • 81% believe productivity savings as key benefit1
  • 58% believe it improves customer experience1

Moreover, according to another survey by KPMG, 62% of respondents from larger enterprises are already investing or are planning to invest in digital labour.

However, here comes the shocker. According to the data shared at the European Shared Services Leaders’ Summit:

35% of implementations(RPA and AI) have not been able to achieve their planned benefits.

Surprised? Don’t be.

GPOs today are not ready to surf through the oceans of technology while keeping their A/R ship steady.

Here are 5 skills that helped Cargill, adidas, Huntsman, Danone and McCormick rudder their Order To Cash in the right direction.



5 Skills Every OTC GPO Needs in the Age of AI: Secret to adidas, Cargill, Huntsman, McCormick and Danone’s A/R Success

Skill #1:

In-depth Process Knowledge

Adidas’s Epiphany on Digital Transformation

Why this skill is necessary

Process complexity is a significant driver of increasing process costs which is difficult to teach, slow to execute, and expensive to maintain.

Furthermore, governing compliance for these processes is difficult to establish and monitor, especially as regional variations push up against global standardization.

Hence, before starting on the journey for any standardization or digitization, GPOs need to have an in-depth process understanding.

What adidas achieved using this skill

adidas’s Challenge: Disconnected Systems

  • Disparate systems for processes across credit, collections, deductions, billing, and payments.
  • Multiple, disconnected systems led to:
    • Productivity loss in low-value manual coordination across teams
    • Broken customer experience in interfacing with different systems
    • Concerns about maintaining a single source of truth with SAP

adidas’s Epiphany on Digital Transformation

  • With in-depth understanding of their process, Tracie Duncan, Director for Credit was able to define their requirements from technology clearly
  • Defined the vision as “Digital Enablement  with Integrated Receivables
  • These vision aimed ay two core objectives:
    • Enable digital collaboration between A/R teams
    • Drive adoption of e-invoicing and e-payments
  • In order to move away from a “siloed” approach, the team laid out the following charter for successful technology deployment:
    • One vendor across credit-to-cash for a simplified IT landscape
    • Handle subsidiary operations through a single system
    • Enforce tight ERP integration to maintain a strong, single source-of-truth
    • Leverage automation to eliminate low-value manual tasks across credit-to-cash processes

Skill #2:

Data Driven Decision Making

Cargill’s Transition to Lean and Simplified A/R

Why this skill is necessary

Before jumping into the next best technology available, it is essential for the GPOs to take a step back and analyze their processes in-depth.

Poor understanding might lead to poor decisions at high costs and negligible results.

Hence, only after comprehensive analysis and benchmarking, GPOs are informed enough to make accurate decisions.

What Cargill achieved using this skill

Cargill’s Challenge: Complex IT Landscape

  • Worked out of decentralized business units.
  • Tried to “lift + shift” to a centralized shared service model
  • Realized the lack of an integrated model that could support their multifaceted IT landscape consisting of:
    • 5 enterprises
    • 20 business groups
    • 28 JDE instances
    • 5 SAP instances
    • 90+ proxy CTC applications
    • 50+ ERPs
    • No centralized customer master data
  • Decided they needed a different approach.
  • Opted for “lift + shift + transform” strategy
  • Standardize processes post transformation

How Cargill leveraged data driven decision making

  • Select technology based on maturity gaps in the processes.
  • Three steps to find maturity gaps:
    With this, Gunther Smets, OTC GPO for Cargill was able to make informed decisions and transform to a lean and simplified A/R

Skill #3:

Project Implementation Planning

Huntsman’s Deployment of 3 Modules in 2 Years Across 4 Regions

Why this skill is necessary

Transforming A/R processes for different BUs spread across different geographies is complicated. With the lack of proper planning and detailed roadmap for execution- it’s a nightmare!

Hence, GPOs need to lay strategic roadmaps for project implementation in order to:

  • Avoid any risk fallouts
  • Keep all stakeholders involved
  • Streamline implementation and deployment of the solutions

What Huntsman achieved using this skill

Huntsman’s Challenges

  • Multiple Disintegrated Systems
    • Lack of Centralized Global A/R Management
    • Cumbersome Credit Reviews
    • Lack of Visibility and A/R Tracking
    • Semi-Automated System
  • Non-standardized, Unscalable A/R Processes
    • Time-consuming, Manual Processes
    • Lack of Integration
    • Internal Teams Disconnect
  • Unavailability of Real-time Data
    • Outdated Data
    • Lack of Visibility and Transparency
    • Limited Support for Critical Decisioning

Due to these challenges, it was really difficult for Huntsman to transform their A/R processes.

5 Step Process Methodology

  • Deployed solutions for credit management, collections and deduction
  • Global deployment for BUs across US, Asia, LATAM, Europe within 2 years using the following strategy:


Improved their Order To Cash metrics as well as process visibility and transparency.

Skill #4:

Leadership and Communication

McCormick’s Streamlined Change Management

Why this skill is necessary

New process implementation based on unfamiliar technology such as RPA and AI undoubtedly results in kickback from most of the  functional workers due to:

  • Lack of information
  • Insecurity around the job
  • Inability to understand the new method

Hence, GPOs must have robust communication and influential skills to smoothen change management and technology adoption.


What McCormick achieved using this skill

Here is how McCormick was able to address each and every single challenge posed during change management while implementing new solutions for cash application and deduction management:

Skill #5:

Long-Term Vision

How Danone Built Future-Ready A/R

Why this skill is necessary

In order to scale in the organic growth or M&A environment, it is essential to think beyond just customary benefits and focus more on value-additions including efficiency, customer satisfaction, and improved A/R health.

They need to think about the ‘bigger picture’ and drive global process standardization and continuous improvement for scalable and future-ready Order To Cash.

Hence, it is imperative for the GPOs to have a long-term vision and plan.


What Danone achieved using this skill

Danone’s Long-Term Vision:

  • Danone wanted a technology that can eliminate manual processes and tasks to:
    • Increase accuracy
    • Improve speed
    • Eliminate costs
  • Here is what they defined as the long-term vision for their Order To Cash:
    • Data integrity with a single source of truth
    • Single A/R platform for all A/R processes
    • Cloud-based SaaS for easy implementation
    • Easy to train resources
  • Based on this vision, Danone defined the key solution requirements for their A/R processes

Solution Requirements for  Cash Application:

  • Handle multiple remittance formats
  • Automatically identify and code deductions based on internal codes
  • Configure output based on specific requirements for different company codes
  • Easy to deploy across different business units

Solution Requirements for Deduction Management:

  • Automate collection of claims and POD backup documents from customer websites
  • Automate processing of trade deductions (85% of all deductions)
  • Track deduction case progress through the resolution lifecycle
  • Automate approval/denial correspondence with customer


Yes. These are the 5 skills that helped adidas, Cargill, Huntsman, McCormick, and Danone transform their Order to Cash operations for better.

Here is a quick overview of how 5 world class GPOs prepared their Order To Cash in the age of AI:

  • In-depth process and business acumen from adidas
  • Data-driven decision making from Cargill
  • Project implementation planning from Huntsman
  • Change management from McCormick
  • Long-term vision from Danone

Following the footsteps of these pioneers can enable businesses to tackle some of their most common challenges specific to shared services and help them on their journey for an optimized Order To Cash transformation.

However, the very first step in any OTC transformation, the first step is assessing your current process.

Ready to get started? Click here for a complimentary As-Is Process Assessment.


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HighRadius solutions have a proven track record of optimizing cash flow, reducing days sales
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Integrated Receivables optimizes accounts receivable operations by combining all receivable and payment modules into a unified business process. The Integrated Receivables platform provides solutions for credit, collections, deductions, cash application, electronic billing, and payment processing – covering the entire gamut from credit-to-cash.

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