Due to manual and non-streamlined Finance processes, collectors often spend too much time looking for customer information in databases, updating spreadsheets, correcting data errors and the crisis has exacerbated this since most were working remotely. Although all finance processes rely on human-generated insight and analysis for success, it is nearly impossible for A/R analysts to effectively scale, given that they spend 80% of their time in clerical tasks, processing huge volumes of transactions.
Under normal business conditions, companies primarily focus on the profit and losses – growing the top line while managing the bottom line. Routine back-office activities such as paying bills and turning receivables into cash were often taken for granted but the COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly highlighted the efficiency, strength and flexibility of the A/R finance processes.In particular the ability to adapt to working from home and to double down on collection strategies. But in a recent report from SSON, 30% indicated that a “decline in collections” has been the most significant business impact as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many have felt the disruption; they have been slow to adjust and have lost some visibility required to make informed decisions around credit risk and collection prioritisation.
Smart companies like Engie, however, had already focused their resources on implementing automation in order to streamline their financial operations and were able to maintain some level of business continuity.
Engie is a French multinational electric utility company, headquartered in La Défense, Courbevoie, which operates in the energy transition, electricity generation and distribution, natural gas, nuclear, renewable energy and petroleum sectors.
In a recent interview with SSON, Dave Hughes, Director Shared Services, Engie shared insights on how their company embraced technology to optimise their Order-to-cash (O2C) process.
We want to collect receivables as quickly as possible at the lowest possible cost
Dave Hughes felt that it was important to adopt a smarter approach to collections and automate the mundane tasks releasing the resources of their A/R team to focus on high-value processes. It was crucial that the team was equipped with the tools to guide them to make the right decisions at the right time.
Dave Hughes implemented HighRadius Collections Cloud to optimise their Order-to-Cash process. He mentions that he was amazed that the HighRadius O2C solution was able to seamlessly move between various A/R processes and applications to provide an overall view of a customer account. This increased the productivity of the A/R team by removing duplicates, automating basic processes, and providing more structure to the collections data.
Highradius technology also allowed them to integrate reporting and present concise information in real-time by removing dependencies on third parties to complete the end-to-end process.
“Our business case showed a significant saving in the implementation of automation”
The before and after comparison was an eyeopener. After the implementation of automation, Engie saw significant savings. There was greater transparency of processes for the customer, insight due to the reporting suite, and customer segmentation capabilities to focus resources and operate in a lean environment.
Dave Hughes went on to explain that the process improvement efficiencies from automated dunning and customer segmentation opened up the potential to onboard more areas of the UK and Global Business Services to the integrated platform which Highradius solutions helped them achieve.
“We’ve seen a cash allocation hit rate of 76% of the overall value of receipts successfully posted and cleared without human intervention, and it is improving all the time due to machine learning and system cleansing of historic data”, exclaimed Dave.
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HighRadius Collections Software automates and optimizes the credit & collections management process to improve collector efficiency, minimize bad debt write-offs, improve customer relationships, and reduce DSO. It provides a complete set of tools to optimize and automate the credit collections management process and enable the better prioritization of credit collections activities All the information you need (invoices, dispute information, POD, claims, tracking info, etc.) on each case is automatically presented in a collections work-space and is ready for use. Apart from the wide variety of benefits that it has, it also comes with some amazing features like CADE (Collection Agency Data Exchange), collector’s dashboard which has prioritized collections worklist, automated dunning & correspondence, dispute management, centralized tracking of notes, call logs & payment commitments along with cash forecasting functionalities. The result is a more efficient collections team that contributes to enhanced cash flow and reduced DSO.