Consumer Goods A/R Departments Must Step-Up with Digital Transformation: Expert Opinion From HighRadius

What you’ll learn

  • Understand how A/R automation helps the order to cash department deliver strategic value in the office of the CFO
  • Deep-dive with our CPG industry expert to know more about artificial intelligence and machine learning, and their applications in A/R
  • Learn about automation use cases that are critical for practitioners in the consumer goods industry

Hana Biskova, Solutions Principal at HighRadius and a former Order to Cash practitioner, was recently interviewed by Tanya Arrowsmith. Hana is a digital transformation expert with seven years of experience managing order to cash for an enterprise consumer goods company in Europe.

In the conversation, Hana covered the following:

    1. How A/R leaders could leverage automation to transform their credit and A/R operations and help these teams deliver strategic value to the CFO
    1. An overview of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning that could change the future of A/R
    1. Actionable strategies for the order to cash leaders in the next normal

To learn more, take a look at the detailed conversation between Hana and Tanya below.

[Tanya]: Hey Hana, could you tell us a little bit about your professional journey?

[Hana]: So I started working as a collection specialist for a large consumer product company based out of Belgium nearly eight years ago. I gained valuable experience working directly with customers, helping them solve their problems, and understanding what the business could do to work better with its customers. In the next few years, I switched my focus to the project side of things and was instrumental in driving the digital transformation of credit and collections within my organization. Once I understood the true value that technology could create in the A/R space, I wanted to learn even more about its capabilities, which led me to my current position as a digital transformation expert at HighRadius.

[Tanya]: Based on your interactions with practitioners in the CPG industry today, what would you say are the top expectations of the CFO from A/R in the next normal? What is the one thing that A/R leaders could do to deliver on said expectations?

[Hana]: Today, the CFO expects their A/R department to be proactive, data-driven, and tech-savvy. Order-to-cash leaders need to build their capability as digital workers and leverage technologies such as AI to react better in difficult situations. They should also shift their focus from cash preservation to cash excellence, a long-term culture shift that would enable proactive liquidity and cash management across the organization.
But, most important of all, A/R leaders must prioritize employee and customer experience. Getting customer’s views and listening to them is the only strategy to grow in today’s hyper-competitive market.

[Tanya]: From your previous experience, how would you say order-to-cash management in a CPG company is different from that in a non-CPG company?

[Hana]: A/R management at a CPG company differs from other industry segments regarding deductions management. Speaking from experience, It’s not easy to fill orders correctly, especially when there are many promotions, new products, and a high volume of orders. To resolve deductions effectively, organizations must have an integrated platform that helps them collaborate internally and resolve deductions faster. An automated system will not only reduce the workload on the deductions analysts, but it would also improve your customer’s experience.

[Tanya]: What is your view on technologies such as AI and machine learning? How fast do you think enterprise A/R departments, especially in Europe, adopt them?

[Hana]: The European market is slightly different from other markets because of its history. Many of the large enterprises have a long history and have grown organically over many years. Because of this, they already have large, robust systems in place, potentially making it harder for them to accept new solutions powered with AI and machine learning technologies.
Therefore, digital transformation leaders need to educate European A/R leaders and make them feel safe about working with systems powered by these technologies. Once they are comfortable with AI, the pace of digital transformation in the market will increase quickly, and that will happen very soon.

[Tanya]: Do you think a good collaboration between credit and sales departments is important? From your personal experience, what are some of the ways to promote this partnership, and how can automation help in the same?

[Hana]: This ties back to the concept of cash excellence that I spoke about before and how it cannot be preached until internal teams are all in sync with each other. I have personally seen conflicts in the past where the sales department wants to sell while the credit department just wants to protect the company from risk. Sales need data and the correct information when meeting with their clients, and credit teams could help them with the same. Accumulating this data without technology would be a very labor-intensive process, quite prone to error. The right technology can also show sales to which customers are at high risk, allowing them to use their relationship and get a payment commitment without the collector having to call them every five minutes. This, for me, is the future of credit and sales collaboration—one where they are not working with each other but together to boost the company’s revenue.

[Tanya]: Do you think that the A/R department should worry about customer experience? If yes, what are there ways in which automation helps A/R leaders deliver a good customer experience?

[Hana]: In today’s world, customer satisfaction should be an objective for not just A/R but all departments within an organization. By focusing on customer experience, A/R can make a direct contribution to the organization’s revenue. In addition, automation eliminates manual tasks, allowing the A/R analysts to invest time and effort into running customer interviews and get feedback on what is working vs. what is not working for them. Therefore, automation is instrumental in transitioning A/R to a strategic business contributor instead of a typical back-office function.

[Tanya]: On a concluding note, what is the one piece of advice that you would like to give to practitioners in the consumer goods industry today?

[Hana]:Try to learn about pain points within your team from a human resources standpoint, how satisfied people are with their work, and what they would like to improve.
Improvements will help you retain your staff, reducing the time taken up in training new people. It will also support your customer satisfaction objectives since you won’t have to build new relationships every time. Happy employees will also help you to grow further and improve the whole customer experience.

Click here to watch the whole conversation with Hana Biskova.

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HighRadius Integrated Receivables Software Platform is the world’s only end-to-end accounts receivable software platform to lower DSO and bad-debt, automate cash posting, speed-up collections, and dispute resolution, and improve team productivity. It leverages RivanaTM Artificial Intelligence for Accounts Receivable to convert receivables faster and more effectively by using machine learning for accurate decision making across both credit and receivable processes and also enables suppliers to digitally connect with buyers via the radiusOneTM network, closing the loop from the supplier accounts receivable process to the buyer accounts payable process. Integrated Receivables have been divided into 6 distinct applications: Credit Software, EIPP Software, Cash Application Software, Deductions Software, Collections Software, and ERP Payment Gateway – covering the entire gamut of credit-to-cash.