In this article I look at 4 common issues that businesses encounter during the early stages of an order to cash transformation process and some simple tactics that will help your business both avoid and address them. The 4D Contact team have extensive experience supporting global businesses on their order-to-cash transformation journey. We provide a flexible outsourced receivables management solution which can help support your in-house team during the transformation period.
So, you decide to embark on an order to cash transformation project to gain that much needed visibility and insight, with the goal of delivering a smarter, more efficient collections service that will simultaneously reduce DSO, increase working capital as well as deliver your valued customers an improved service.
Following 12 months of research, securing stakeholder buy in, project planning, development and deployment your brand-new system is in place – but is it delivering the results you expected? Outlined below are some of the common issues that businesses encounter during the early stages of an order to cash transformation process and some simple tactics that will help your business both avoid and address them.
1 / Expecting too much too soon
It is key to understand from the outset that it will take time to gather learnings and then make appropriate process adjustments to deliver tangible results. A digitally transformed order-to cash process with not automatically resolve existing inefficiencies, but through improved transparency enable you to identify them and, through ongoing data collection and analytics, help you make achieve optimal efficiency going forward.
Ensure both your front-line staff and senior management are aware that in the short-term there will potentially be no change in performance during this data collection and analysis stage of early implementation to avoid any chance of the project being considered a failure before it has got started. Everyone needs to understand that order to cash transformation is an ongoing journey and deployment is one stop on the road, not the final destination.
2 / Maintaining business continuity
It is without question that the new visibility available will uncover issues that require resolution. These can, and will, take multiple forms; be it uncovering the fact that your team prefer to email rather than call, finally understanding there is just too much work for them to possibly get through, or to uncovering a ledger that has been untouched for months and is swiftly aging.
It is critical to be aware that these issues will arise – if your process was problem free you are unlikely to have engaged on the order to cash transformation project in the first place – and have a plan in place on how these will be addressed. Who will take responsibility? Do they have the capacity to take on this additional workload? Is there the resource available within your existing inhouse team? Overload your team and they will definitely feel like the transformation is not a success for them and their peers.
It is therefore imperative to have a strategy to maintain output whilst going through change process. This could mean budgeting for a temporary increase in headcount during the early implementation stages or looking for a flexible outsourced solution which could take on key projects as and when required. If you don’t make this provision the business is very likely to remain bogged down in existing issues and your transformation will not be a success for the business or your workforce.
3 / Order to cash transformation won’t automatically resolve existing issues.
A good order to cash automation solution provides improved visibility over internal processes and the data and analysis to enable your business to identify opportunities to drive efficiencies. In real terms this mean the potential to optimise the productivity of your credit control resources with efficient and timely contact. However, the system will not fix endemic issues and if one of your key learnings is that no one is picking up the phone, unless your team are tasked and targeted on the number of phone calls made the likelihood is the issue will remain.
In order to ensure the business can move forward it is key to have a strategy to overcome any uncovered staff performance issues. This can be from changing how your team are targeted, to creating leader boards which highlight top-performing employees or even potentially using an outsourced solution to demonstrate what good looks like.
4 / Fear of change
Unsurprisingly, employees are often reluctant to utilise a new system to its full extent as they believe the automation piece will either put their jobs at risk or that the new transparency and data will highlight their shortcomings. An understanding of overcoming this fear must be built into your change management program – your team will have been expected to digest several years of change within a few months and most people find change, particularly if it is not of their personal choice, uncomfortable. Ensure employee targets are tied to working within the new system – ultimately, they will have to adjust and those that are resistant to change may potentially need to be replaced as the order to cash transformation is a business strategy, not an individuals’ choice. However, this should be considered a last resort and a business should look at short and long-term tactics to support staff on their change journey,
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