Reducing Unidentified Deductions from 100% to 15%: Intelligent Automation at Church and Dwight



Gregory Ottalagano

Manager, AR and Credit,
Church & Dwight


[0:00] Gregory Ottalagano
So we’re going to talk about how in my company, we reduced unidentified deductions from coming from 100% down to 15%. And show of hands, how many people are using the cash app cloud at the moment? How many people were thinking about using the cash app cloud?

[0:19] Gregory Ottalagano
Okay. It’s a terrific tool. Terrific tool, but we’re going to go through some things first. First, I just want to clear some things up. Contrary to belief, when this picture came around, I happen to be out of the office and my boss sent it to me. And he asked me, he said, “You got something that you need to tell me?”. And I told him, I said, Yeah, I said, my drug ring is far more advanced than that. But I was happened to be out of the office and no, and that’s not me. So that was kind of a fun thing that ran around the office for about six months.

They still didn’t believe me.

[1:00] Gregory Ottalagano
The second thing I want to talk about is a string. Okay, it sounds weird and I’m even going to talk about string. But one of the greatest inventions of all time is the wheel. Right every everybody always thinks is wheel computers actually string was invented 20,000 years ago. And I think about the guy who came up with that, he was like the Albert Einstein of cavemen, like you know, and you know, the communications like you know, go back and forth, but look what string is evolved into, you be able to catch fish, you play musical instruments, you know, everything all evolved from the string, also, string became wire. Wire became communications. So you see how important string is, and today we neglect it. Okay, you probably have school string in your junk drawer in the kitchen, and you probably use it once or twice and still sits there. probably been there for 15 years. Right, am I right? So I just wanted to talk about string just a little bit. And I’ll tell a little joke about string. If you want to hear one, okay, it’s gonna be silly. Get ready. three strings, walk into a bar. Okay? sit down at the table, the first string walks over to the bartender, the bartender looks at him, he says, We don’t serve strings here, goes back to the table. The second string gets up says, I’ll take care of this. He walks over to the bartender. And the bartender says, I just told you, I don’t serve string here. So he goes back to the table. The third-string says, Well, I’ll take care of this. Just tie me a knot and fray my bottle. Disguise myself. So he walks over to the bartender, looks at me he goes ‘Fraid not.

[2:53] Gregory Ottalagano
It’s a little silly but I just think the string is interesting, you know, and how would really affect mankind. So, can anybody tell me what these three things are?

[3:07] Gregory Ottalagano
Do you know what this is? What is it?

It’s kind of an editing machine, it’s a comptometer.

[3:16] Gregory Ottalagano
Okay, I’ve seen this when I first started the work at General Electric, a woman that actually had this on her desk and I go – “What? How do you how you even operate that thing? It’s, it’s incredible”. And we know what this is.

[3:30] Gregory Ottalagano
What is it?

[3:33] Gregory Ottalagano
Close. It’s Commodore 64. So these are some of the things that you know we’ve come from as you know, and you know, and where we were and where we are now is really incredible. So this used to kill me all the time when I first started to go to work is to fill out these 14 column pads and put a little note little letters in there. A lot of you younger people probably don’t even know that. Okay, but that was really the first like – Excel spreadsheet if you want to take a look at it that way. So we’re going to get into what we did and who Church & Dwight is. Does anybody know who Church & Dwight is?

[4:30] Gregory Ottalagano
Okay, we were established in 1846. Church & Dwight is the Arm and Hammer people. Okay, and we make a whole bunch of other products. We were established in 1846. Right now we’re headquartered in New Jersey. Our sales are about $4 billion. And we’ve just added to the S&P – 502,016. I mean, our competitors are P&G and Johnson and Johnson we’re $4 billion dollars, P&G is at $63 billion dollars. So you can see, we have a tough hill to climb and a lot of competition. The funny thing about looking back at the history of, Church & Dwight, and how they made their name as they were the first one to do a mass mailing to people in the late 1800s – 1900s. They did a mass mail mailing to people on cooking recipes. So they used to send out; so that’s what this is like almost a mass mailing that way back when and this is how they really established themselves. And actually the Church & Dwight logo is one of the five most recognized logos in the world. So these are some of our products. Vita fusion I think we’re number one in the gummy chewable vitamins. Nair, Trojan, Batiste is a dry shampoo that you use. I know everybody, you young women, you women use that oxy clean and we bought Waterpik last year. And two big companies, we probably have 80 products but these are our top ones. So this is what our company looks like. We might gain an average AR in every month of about 250 million dollars. We process about 400,000 invoices during the year. 90% of our payments are received electronically. We get 150,000 deductions. And at one time, a lot of them came in as identified. Now Church & Dwight was one of the first companies to integrate HighRadius back in 2010. So when I walked in the door four years ago We were still using that product, which was antiquated because they went to the cloud. So and actually they weren’t even going to support us anymore because we weren’t on the cloud.

[7:21] Gregory Ottalagano
So these were some of the challenges. We had four hours, we’re spending four to five hours a day, looking at remittances and reviewing them. We have a high volume of deductions like I said, and you know, unresolved deductions, labor-intensive, you know, looking at them, we used to print out all the 820s and review the 820s and try to decipher, you know, deductions of what they are. So you could see it was really a tough task. You know, when I went in there, I’m a big proponent of working smarter not harder. So, you know, if I’m not, if I can find a tool out there, that’s going to make it better for us, that’s where they’re going to go with. So when I saw the system that we were using at HighRadius at the time, I called Dan Chapman. And I said, Dan, you gotta help me. And I would send him pictures of the 820s every day, and it would be this high, like, you know, people were spending hours and hours going through them. So it was a real pain.

[8:30] Gregory Ottalagano
So, this is what we look like before – Get remittances from the bank. And I mean, I think you guys all know the processes are probably the old and same in almost every company. So you know, getting the remittances, coding the deductions and then having a deduction team you know, go on to portals to identify the deductions and then code the number, then Dave spent 25% of the time doing that.

[9:03] Gregory Ottalagano
So it is the manual deductions and this is the part, it’s that pretty, pretty good depiction. You know, so many with their head down, you know, deductions are like working in the post office. It never stops, right? It just keeps coming and coming and coming. And you know, you can get a handle on them is really a key thing you know and if you can work out things with a customer if you can do that you’re in a better position.

[9:34] Gregory Ottalagano
So this is our dispute number. We get about $400 million in deductions, and 375,000 or 374,000 on trade unauthorized and preventable. Now, these are the areas that when you start coding the deductions, you can really recognize what you have, you know and get a handle on it.

[10:19] Gregory Ottalagano
So with HighRadius, this is what we achieved: The major challenges – For the order to cash cycle going through manually reviewing and decoupling the remittances, large volume of unidentified, less no visibility between teams and their functions and poor efficiency of analysts to drive the intensive workflow. Order to Cash automated solution capabilities. I can read these and I’m not going to read every one of them. But, you know, really try to get to where we want to get to, automate the deduction coding, capture the non-standard remittances, better use of the interface, added a box reporting and drill-down capabilities. They have some great tools inside the Cash App cloud, they really do. And to automate the backup documentation, they will go out and if you don’t know this, they will go out and pull the documents from the portals from the customers, which is great because you know, in yesterday, you were calling them up and waiting weeks and weeks for the paper to come in now and sort of made it and it comes in, and it captures that information. It’s on the deed and on the cloud. So why did we use HighRadius? Because they understood where we needed to go. Okay, their functionality and products. End to end automation, very high focus on creating value and providing a high return on investment and long term support. HighRadius is keen on providing continuous service improvement.

[12:21] Gregory Ottalagano
What I have to say about this is they really understand, you know, when you start implementing the system they’re not going to tell you what to do. You have to tell them what to do and it will call is you know – building the perfect beast. They told us to assume to take three months to implement it, it took us six months. And the reason why we did that is because we want to make sure we were using HighRadius for everything and it was worth. A lot of people make the mistake: Well I’m using SAP and SAP does this for me. Okay, does HighRadius do that? Yes, it does do that, but it also does this okay? You know, so there’s a lot of tools that are useful in there that you would never even think of. You know, so to me, pulling the documentation going out and getting proof of deliveries, you know, all those things are key in resolving your issues and recognizing where your issues are. You know, so the tools that they have are really fantastic. So this is what we look like after we implemented the HighRadius cloud. You know, all the payments come in e-payments. We’re also doing business with credit cards now and I believe people are doing business with credit cards but it’s a pain.

[13:44] Gregory Ottalagano
So there, you know, everything is automated. Automated data capturing, the invoice matching; our hit rate, I think is 90% on matching invoices to payments, which is fantastic. Before I mean, it was at 27%. That was with the old HighRadius system. So you can see how you know, how they improved a lot in that area. And so then, so this is the deduction automation, backup documentation, cross-team collaboration in-system resolution, and automated correspondence. You know if you have a salesman you know you can actually have an email sent to the salesman on a deduction, you know – we got a deduction on this and it is automatically sent it to him. And this way he has a heads up to you know, what’s happening with his customer. So and I think that’s a pretty cool thing.

[14:47] Gregory Ottalagano
So today, my hit rate for e-payments and checks is 90%. We’ve saved 16 man-hours a day. Hundred percent of deductions are coded and overall on a monthly basis, we saved 320 hours. That’s, that’s a big saving. I mean, when you go into your management and say, This is what we’re going to be able to achieve. Now, we should be buying this. And it wasn’t – it took me a year and a half to convince them. So finally they capitulated and said, “Okay, well, let’s get it”. So then, when I started showing them the numbers ago, they said – “You’re right, you know, we really needed this”. So then it took me another year and a half to convince them to implement the deduction cloud. So we’re actually going live with that next month. And I’m very excited about that.

[15:41] Gregory Ottalagano
So best practices from our internal implementation journey, you know, it’s important to make sure that you’re using the system for everything it’s worth. And also, when you’re thinking about implementing, think about where you want to be? what’s going to be the end game? what, you know, where do you want to be? Where do you want it to for you? If you do that, then you’re going to be successful. You know, understanding the automation can prove efficiency-related downstream, you know, getting the cross-functional teams, you know, your customer service, logistics and whatever, you know, they’re all involved in that. It’s the system’s extremely easy to use. And even, I mean, even I could use. I’m not the smartest guy in the world. I’ve been around for 45 years. So I mean, I’m old.

[16:30] Gregory Ottalagano
I invented the strength by the way.

[16:39] Gregory Ottalagano
Artificial Intelligence in order to cash I mean, I think the artificial intelligence is extremely; The thing just blows my mind when they started talking about this last year, I was blown away. I don’t know if you guys had a chance to see the demonstration on Freeda. And I think that that is just incredible. Just an incredible tool. Unfortunately, I can’t use that because we don’t have a high enough volume of customers to do that, you know, so it just doesn’t work for me. But it’s a great tool. You know, predictive blocked orders, cash forecasting, and Treasury suite is, absolutely phenomenal. Which automation trends and order to cash has the highest impact on you personally. Like I showed you all the slides, you know, the time savings, you know, it just makes my job a lot easier. I’m big on reporting to management, where issues are and it gives you more visibility and easier to pull up reports that are meaningful, you know, if you’re dealing with SAP, whatever version you want, you know, sometimes it’s hard to get a report at SAP. You know, so, you know, pulling a report out of at a HIghRadius is great. The other thing I gotta say about the cash app is that if you see something in the Cash App before you drop it into your, your ERP system, you can correct it. Like once in a while, we get payments. And let me back up a minute, they capture all the 820s and they will capture 82) sometimes your customers will send 820 is a couple of days in advance, and they will capture that and hold that until the payment comes in and then matches it up with the payment. So once in a while, one sneaks through, okay, and it comes in as a payment. So when I’m looking at the and when I’m looking at my cash application for that day, I could see all these payments and I’m matching it up to the bank and I see a payment from a customer that’s not a bank statement. So that means something came through that shouldn’t have come through. I can ignore that before I drop into this in SAP, which is you know, you could change you can even add things into the cloud before it drops on SAP or whatever system you’re using, which I think is a great tool, a lot easier to use. So it’s sort of saying, I don’t know why, but I’ll talk about that just talk about my experiences with big-box people. And I’ve had a lot of successful experiences, especially with Walmart, in my, my journey, not with love, not with church and Dwight, but another company. You know, when you walk into, you know, to try to reconcile or resolve issues with the customer, you know, make sure you have a solution that’s beneficial to both of us, because then when you show them a European fair on both of us, then they’re probably going to go with it. And if you’re showing Walmart, I use them as an example. When you show them that where and how it’s affecting you, and how it’s eating on your profits, they will work with you, okay to make it better for you. And if you do that, then you’re going to be successful. Plan of proactive tracking season and returns, I mean I was working for an air conditioning company and we had a lot of end indices and returns and we had to resolve those before the end of the season.

[20:17] Gregory Ottalagano
Stay updated with the latest compliances and leverage automation and for accurate quick cash posting and bulk distribution settlements.

[20:38] Gregory Ottalagano
Do we have any questions?

[20:44] Gregory Ottalagano
No questions?

[20:45] anchor
No questions?

[20:47] Gregory Ottalagano
I do have something else to say before I end this. For everybody that was here last year and know me, I’ve resolved my addiction to the Hokey Pokey. I turned myself around. So we’re done just about on time, right?

[21:07] anchor
There. There are questions. Yes, a sec. I’ll bring you the mic.

[21:18] audience
So regarding your deductions, do you use HighRadius to link debit memos and PODs?

[21:24] Gregory Ottalagano

[21:25] audience
And they attach to the debit memos?

[21:29] Gregory Ottalagano
Yes. Yeah, they go out and they go out to the trucker’s sites and pull the proof of deliveries.

[21:38] audience
Any idea of what percent is successful in linking?

[21:45] Gregory Ottalagano
I don’t know yet. Because we’re going live with it next week or next month. But we do have that already in place. I’m going to say 80%.

[21:55] audience

[21:56] Gregory Ottalagano
Know, as long as you set up – they have these things called Data agents. You set up the data agents where they go in and you got to set up the cost the truckers website, the portal to link in. And they will automatically go out and pull the proof of deliveries. It’s a fantastic tool. Just the time spent on getting proof of delivery is enormous.

[22:18] audience
I’m painfully aware.

[22:21] Gregory Ottalagano
It can be complicated, you know, like I said, everything in everything inside the cash application cloud is what you make of it. Setting the rules up is extremely important when you set up the right rules. That’s a reason why it took us six months is because we want to make sure we had all over we’ll set up you know, identify and deductions You know what does 211 mean at a Walmart deduction starts with 2112 means to shortage or, you know, whatever it is, that’s what you’re setting up. If you set those things up, right. And you were going to be so successful, your heads gonna spin-off your shoulders, I’m telling I was crazy when I have seen this actually in process. But I thank you all for coming, you know, and I hope it was entertaining at least. And if you have any questions, let me know.

[23:12] anchor
Thanks a lot.

[0:00] Gregory Ottalagano So we’re going to talk about how in my company, we reduced unidentified deductions from coming from 100% down to 15%. And show of hands, how many people are using the cash app cloud at the moment? How many people were thinking about using the cash app cloud? [0:19] Gregory Ottalagano Okay. It’s a terrific tool. Terrific tool, but we’re going to go through some things first. First, I just want to clear some things up. Contrary to belief, when this picture came around, I happen to be out of the office and my boss sent it to me. And he asked me, he said, “You got something that you need to tell me?”. And I told him, I said, Yeah, I said, my drug ring is far more advanced than that. But I was happened to be out of the office and no, and that’s not me. So that was kind of a fun thing that ran around the office for about six months. They still didn’t believe me. [1:00] Gregory Ottalagano The second thing I want to talk about is a string. Okay, it sounds weird and I’m even going to talk about string. But…

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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.