Adopting a Strategy-Driven Approach to Credit & Collections
By Jeroen van Loenen, Senior Credit Controller, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Nederland BV
Konica Minolta is known for the precision and quality of its technology, and this attention to detail is apparent throughout the group. One example of this was the recent project to transform the credit and collections function in Europe by implementing innovative software and best-in-class processes and controls to optimise cash and risk management, and provide the scalability and flexibility to support future growth. As a result, Konica Minolta was awarded the TMI Corporate Recognition Award 2016 for Credit & Collections.
Before implementing a new solution, we were managing our collection processes manually, with each collector extracting account information from our ERP and managing collections in spreadsheets. As this was very time-consuming, we concentrated our attentions only on the largest outstanding amounts, so our days sales outstanding (DSO) was high and cash flow was unpredictable. We also lacked oversight of all customer overdues, restricting our ability to monitor and manage cash flow and risk effectively.
Embarking on a transformation project
To resolve these challenges, and create a more flexible, scalable and efficient credit and collection organisation, we made the decision to transform our credit and collections processes by implementing a new technology solution. Our aim was to substantially reduce our outstanding debts and DSO, and manage credit risk more effectively. We embarked on a thorough selection process and ultimately faced the decision of whether to extend the use of our existing ERP to credit and collections, or implement FIS’ GETPAID solution.
Ultimately, we opted for GETPAID for a variety of reasons. We were very satisfied with FIS’ credibility and expertise in credit and collections, and the solution had an established track record with other comparable organisations. In particular, GETPAID offered particular flexibility to meet the needs of collection teams across our business. For example, we have organised our business in clusters, each of which has a national operating company (NOC). Our cluster, Cluster West, is made up of Belgium, Netherlands, Austria and Germany, but we also incorporated the UK in our project which has a larger NOC. We have different collection strategies, languages and business culture in each country within the cluster, as well as requiring visibility across each cluster, so GETPAID’s ability to support this flexibility was very important.
A disciplined implementation
We started the project with a variety of workshops involving the ultimate users of the system to understand existing processes and how these could be optimised through GETPAID. This led to the development of a project blueprint which formed the basis for a test phase conducted by the NOC, followed by user acceptance testing and ‘go live’. This was followed by a post-live period when we brought people on to the new system. The project was supported and monitored by a project manager and consultant from FIS throughout, in addition to a Konica Minolta project manager with support from the business.
Collections in practice
We now segment our customer base, according to factors such as risk grade, geography or balance due, and apply different collection strategies using GETPAID’s strategic rules engine. This allows us to configure different courses of action with specific events triggered automatically as an invoice ages. Each strategy can consist of an unlimited number of steps, according to the previous contact activity. For example, we can now send correspondence automatically to remind customers that their invoices are coming due. This is a step we did not have in our previous process, so although it took time for customers to become accustomed to it, it has helped us to deliver better customer service by ensuring that we had a common view of the account status and resolving disputes quickly.