The pace of technology change is staggering: If you see a gadget in a sci-fi movie, chances are you will get to test-drive it in real life sooner than you think. Yet the nightmares of a typical AR department have remained unchanged for decades. Between managing the disaster of having sent the wrong invoice to the wrong customer, to eye-rolling at customers’ claims that they never got a single one (of the three invoices) sent to them, AR managers are dealing with the same-old problems. The cause is simple: Many of the processes that drive billing and collection functions in a modern company are 150 years old.
Industry statistics show that collection teams spend as much as a third of their time manually chasing invoices and processing data. This dynamic is a source of inefficiency and frustration.
When the topic of automating billing and collection functions comes up, the idea looks both attractive and scary. Sure, everyone wants more efficiency and easier workflows. At the same time, AR managers worry that an automated solution will make their teams redundant. CFOs might be curious about the possibilities but concerned about the "black box" effect. Is the platform really all that capable? What if there is a mistake? What does the business case for AR automation look like?
Here are three ways to look at the business case for AR automation.
1. We have the technology
Modern AR solutions integrate with existing CRM and ERP systems to fit into your workflow and help your team get the most from your overall investment in technology. Actionable graphics allow users to visualize data and make accurate decisions based on real-time information and analytics. And, contrary to the perception that automation means everyone must be treated exactly the same, great solutions allow companies to customize their approach to suit their customer base.
2. Efficiency means getting cash in the door quicker with less effort
An actionable dashboard and automated follow-up can mean faster collections. That in turn leads to a stronger ability to forecast cash flow and plan for working capital needs. In addition to delivering a lower DSO, a great-fit solution builds the foundation for a strategically focused (and less time consuming) collection effort.
3. Technology enhances your ability to focus on uniquely human tasks
According to a recent report by McKinsey & Company (by Michael Chui, James Manyika and Mehdi Miremadi), technology can automate finance activities that currently take up over 40% of an AR team's time. Imagine the possibilities if your team did not have to spend hours every month creating clunky Excel-driven AR aging reports! Your staff would have the luxury of focusing on things robots cannot do. They would use their time to resolve disputes and manage client relationships. The result doesn’t just create a better bill-paying experience for your customers - it also enhances work satisfaction and control for your team.
AR on Autopilot
If your AR staff is still chasing invoices and clicking through multiple software screens to double-check balance and payment information, it’s time you gave a modern AR solution another look. There are many capable packages on the market, so be sure to select one that can be integrated with your CRM and ERP systems to maximize the benefits of a customized technology stack. Ask about expected savings from implementation, or use an online calculator (like the one on the YayPay website) to estimate the financial impact of your decision. After all, the business case for AR automation is at the intersection of stronger cash flow management and greater efficiency for a lean accounting team.