The Subtle Art of Reducing A/R Operating Costs

12 October, 2020
8 mins
Patrick Petti, AVP, Value Optimization

Table of Content

Key Takeaways
Introduction
The Role of A/R in Cash Flow
Strategies to Reduce A/R Operating Costs
Benefits of Automation in Lowering Operating Costs
Conclusion
FAQs

Key Takeaways

  • Explore seven actionable strategies to reduce A/R operational costs, optimizing resource utilization and boosting overall efficiency.
  • Understand the pivotal role of A/R in cash flow, discovering how efficient management accelerates the cash conversion cycle and ensures liquidity for operations and growth.
  • Recognize the significance of automation in lowering operational costs, with key benefits like efficiency boost, accelerated payments, and enhanced accuracy.
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Introduction

Managing accounts receivable (A/R) is a critical aspect that directly impacts a company’s financial health. As organizations strive for efficiency and sustainability, the need to scrutinize and reduce A/R operational costs becomes increasingly imperative.

Accounts receivable operations encompass a series of tasks that involve invoicing, payment tracking, and ensuring timely collections. While these processes are integral to sustaining cash flow, the associated operational costs can often spiral out of control, affecting the bottom line. In this blog, we will dive into the world of A/R operational costs and explore seven strategic approaches to streamline processes and enhance efficiency.

It’s essential to recognize the interconnected nature of financial processes within a company. Each improvement in A/R operations not only contributes to cost reduction but also paves the way for enhanced customer relationships and a more robust financial foundation. So, without further ado, let’s unveil the actionable strategies to bring about positive transformation in your organization’s financial ecosystem.

The Role of A/R in Cash Flow

At its core, the health of a company’s cash flow is intricately tied to the efficiency of its accounts receivable processes. Imagine A/R as the heartbeat of your financial ecosystem, where the smooth and timely circulation of funds ensures the vitality of your business.

In simple terms, A/R represents the outstanding payments your company is yet to receive for goods or services rendered. The faster these outstanding invoices are converted into actual cash, the more robust your cash flow becomes. Effective A/R management not only accelerates the cash conversion cycle but also provides the liquidity needed for day-to-day operations, strategic investments, and growth initiatives.

By understanding the pivotal role A/R plays in the cash flow equation, businesses can identify areas for improvement, streamline processes, and implement strategies that not only reduce operational costs but also bolster the overall financial well-being of the organization. In the sections that follow, we will shine a spotlight on the advantages of automation in decreasing operational cost.

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Strategies to Reduce A/R Operating Costs

Inefficient A/R processes can inadvertently impact your business’s revenue. Here are seven strategies for A/R operational cost reduction:

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1. Optimized resource utilization

Challenge:

Simultaneous involvement in cash reconciliation, collections, and dispute resolution creates bottlenecks, affecting overall A/R operational efficiency. As businesses grow, the scale of operations increases, leading to a direct impact on the net resources required for these tasks.

Resolution:

  1. Identify clerical tasks and procedures that can be digitized, eliminating the need for manual intervention.
  2. Prioritize high-priority tasks for employees, improving business performance and cost-savings.

2. Cutting down on bank integration costs

Challenge:

Monthly transaction fees and manual key-in services for remittances can inflate costs and hinder reconciliation. Bank lockboxes come with additional fees, and the data captured may be insufficient for successful reconciliation.

Resolution:

  1. Utilize technology solutions like remote deposit capture to eliminate key-in costs and improve efficiency.
  2. Embrace digital payments for a faster cash conversion cycle, reducing the need for traditional bank lockboxes.

3. Cutting down on invoicing costs

Challenge:

Processing a paper invoice can cost up to $15, impacting overall revenue. Traditional invoicing methods require manual data entry and additional expenses for printing and mailing or faxing invoices.

Resolution:

  1. Adopt digital payment methods (ACH, Credit Cards, Wire, Payment Gateways) to reduce manual reconciliation efforts.
  2. Implement faster and automated invoice delivery through email or web portals to save on per-invoice costs.

4. Cutting down on payment processing costs

Challenge:

Outdated paper-based systems lead to error-prone and costly manual processing. Decoupled payments take time to be reconciled, and fewer payment methods may result in delayed payments.

Resolution:

  1. Implement remote deposit capture to scan and send check payments, cutting down the costs linked with manual handling and transportation of checks to the bank.
  2. Use payment gateways to allow customers to pay for multiple invoices simultaneously, eliminating the need for manual reconciliation and providing better control over the cash inflow.

5. Handling compliance & security costs for digital payments

Challenge:

The integration of digital payments may incur expensive compliance and security costs to avoid delinquencies. Non-compliance with PCI standards may result in additional fees.

Resolution:

  1. Businesses should review and optimize PCI compliance fees that some merchant service providers charge.
  2. Opt for comprehensive solutions that encompass compliance and security measures to lower overall overhead costs.

6. Cutting down on credit integration costs

Challenge:

Individual subscriptions to credit agencies may result in additional fees depending on the scope and coverage of individual reports.

Resolution:

  1. Opt for solutions with built-in integration with numerous credit agencies without any individual subscription fees to help businesses save on credit processing.

7. Cutting down on paper costs for back-up documentation

Challenge:

Paper-based back-up documentation adds to infrastructure costs for managing a large volume of documents. Lack of visibility in tracking customer data, late payments, credit limits, and payment terms can lead to excessive bad-debt write-offs.

Resolution:

  1. Leverage digitization to stay on top of SOX compliance with reduced complexity, better operational understanding, and cost-savings.
  2. Maintain a central repository of customer data for easy retrieval of essential information, such as payment history and invoice data, along with payment commitments.

By implementing these detailed strategies, businesses can not only reduce A/R operational costs but also enhance overall efficiency and increase accounts receivable cash flow. In the following sections, we’ll further explore the impact of automation in achieving these objectives.

Benefits of Automation in Lowering Operating Costs

In an era marked by economic uncertainties, proactively addressing operating costs is paramount for sustaining business viability. Often overlooked, operating costs can significantly impact overall revenue, making it crucial for mid-sized businesses to reassess their strategies.

Top Concerning Financial Risks:

  • Operational performance
  • Investment performance
  • Fraud/Theft
  • Cash flow/Liquidity

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(Source: QBE North America 2020 Mid-Sized Company Risk Report)

If your business goals include optimizing costs for competitive relevance and maximizing potential, focusing on accounts receivable is key. A well-structured A/R strategy not only reduces operational costs but also enhances cash flow and preserves working capital.

Why automation matters:

  1. Efficiency boost: Automated A/R processes streamline invoice generation, payment tracking, and collections, reducing the need for manual intervention and minimizing errors.
  2. Accelerated payments: Automation expedites payment cycles by sending timely reminders and facilitating quicker transaction processing, positively impacting cash flow.
  3. Resource optimization: By automating routine tasks, valuable human resources can be redirected towards strategic activities, optimizing overall operational efficiency.
  4. Enhanced accuracy: Automation reduces the risk of errors in invoicing and payment reconciliation, ensuring financial records are accurate and compliant.
  5. Real-time insights: Automated reporting provides instant visibility into A/R performance, enabling timely decision-making and proactive measures to address any issues.
  6. Cost savings: Reducing reliance on manual processes not only cuts labor costs but also mitigates the risk of financial discrepancies that can lead to additional expenses.

Conclusion

In the fast-paced business landscape, overlooking operational costs, especially in accounts receivable, can potentially leave your business trailing behind. However, with a proactive and strategic approach, you can target key areas for reducing operational costs within A/R processes, leading to streamlined business operations, heightened productivity, and fortified working capital reserves.

Automation in accounts receivable processes is more than just a modern convenience; it’s a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to thrive in a competitive landscape. By automating tasks such as invoice generation, payment tracking, and collections, businesses can significantly boost efficiency, reduce errors, and accelerate cash flow.

At HighRadius, we usher in a new era of efficiency and excellence in accounts receivable. Our integrated receivables automation solution breaks down silos across A/R teams, offering end-to-end automation that enhances visibility, decision-making, and overall financial health. Tackle manual, repetitive tasks, and eliminate siloed processes with HighRadius, saying goodbye to operational roadblocks. 

Embrace streamlined order to cash processes, improved efficiency, and fortified working capital. Break free from traditional constraints; with HighRadius, it’s time to revolutionize your A/R experience.

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FAQs

1. How can accounts receivable be reduced?

To reduce accounts receivable, streamline invoicing processes, offer discounts for early payments, and implement efficient collection strategies. Regularly monitor and follow up on overdue payments to optimize cash flow.

2. What is intelligent automation in finance?

To reduce operational costs, companies can optimize resource utilization, embrace automation for efficiency, negotiate better supplier deals, and implement energy-saving measures. Regularly reassess and streamline processes to identify further cost-saving opportunities.

3. How do you break down operating costs?

To break down operating costs, categorize expenses into fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs remain constant, while variable costs fluctuate with business activities. This breakdown helps businesses analyze, manage, and optimize their overall operational expenses effectively.

4. Why is it important to reduce operating costs?

Reducing operating costs is crucial for enhancing profitability, ensuring financial sustainability, and maintaining a competitive edge. It allows businesses to allocate resources efficiently, invest in growth opportunities, and adapt to market changes, fostering long-term success.

5. Why reduce AR operational cost?

Reducing AR operational costs is vital for improving cash flow, preserving working capital, and optimizing overall financial health. It enhances efficiency in invoicing, payment tracking, and collections, contributing to sustained business growth and competitiveness.

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