Finance’s New Directive & The Need for Data-Driven Insights

There’s a new business imperative: go digital. No matter what industry, no matter what business function. Digital technology and strategies are no longer just under the purview of edgy marketing departments or hip, online retailers, they are being infused into all aspects of any organization—even the finance department.

CFOs and their teams understand that unless they start to leverage cloud and web-based platforms, and embrace new automation and smart technologies, they risk obsolesce.

The Digital Impact

What is propelling this new emphasis on F&A digital transformation is four major drivers:

Data is the new currency. With the mass collection of structured and unstructured data, companies are actively looking for effective ways to make sense of it all. The ultimate goal is to apply data analytics to create actionable insights.

Increased focus on business outcomes. Lowered costs are a given in these days of doing more with less, but now the bigger (and more interesting) conversation is centered upon driving outcomes for business benefit. F&A departments are now expected to be a partner to operations, marketing, HR and R&D.

The rise of intelligent automation. Why have people perform transactional activities that machines (like Robotic Process Automation units) can do? There is a concentrated effort on shifting from transactional talent to digital talent, of moving people out of “busy hands” work, and toward the “mind work” that moves the needle on objectives.

The need for organizational agility. Every company wants to be faster and more agile in the marketplace. This means offloading simpler, less differentiating functions so that the organization can concentrate on core competencies, and more complex processes.

How to Transform Order-to-Cash

Yet between the desire to transform and the successful execution of a transformation mandate there lays a gapping chasm. Companies would be best served to apply a best-practices approach can accelerate the change initiative. This involves:

  1. Defining the service strategy. This helps companies to align service quality according to customer segments’ requirements, reduce the cost-to-serve, and increase internal flexibility and discipline.
  2. Establishing the organizational structure, often with new specialized roles, and ensuring buy-in.
  3. Evaluating centralization and partnering with a process transformation company as key levers to improve flexibility and decrease costs.
  4. Connecting end-to-end processes and align neighboring functions’ activities towards the common goal: customer satisfaction.
  5. Incorporating the latest appropriate technology (digital and analytics) that will enable predictive insights.

Our Webinar

If you’d like to know more about how to use data-driven finance to achieve excellence in the Order-to-Cash function, listen into the webinar with Sutherland’s Jon Sunthimer, Vice President, F&A Global Technology Leader, co-hosted a webinar with Veena Gundavelli, the Founder and CEO of Emagia Corporation.

Visit here to listen to the playback or get a free ebook.

7 Signs of You Have an Accounts Receivable Problem

accounts receivableEvery year, companies around the world write off millions of dollars of both B2C and B2B bad debt. But in these tough economic times, ensuring cash flow and an optimized Account Receivable (AR) process is the lifeline of any business. Getting paid on time is key—and when you don’t, then getting AR right is more important than ever.

If you see any of these signs in your Accounts Receivable department, there just may be a problem that needs addressing:

  1. Your DSO is High or Constantly in Flux: Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is the bellwether metric for any AR organization. When it is high, that means you are probably in the habit of extending credit to clients, which is a risk. Also, high DSO negatively impacts cash flow. If it continues to creep up, there is less of a chance you will eventually collect on those overdue accounts.

Continue reading

New Webinar: Excellence is in Order (to Cash)

600px-shutterstock_169847765Finance is in a state of flux. Processes that once served F&A have become outdated. If businesses want to keep up, they need to leverage new technologies and new transformative processes wherever possible.

Today’s CFO understands the need to focus on big-picture strategy and to continually reassess and revamp operations. For that reason, most CFOs list achieving finance operations excellence as a top goal for 2017.

The time has come to embrace data-driven finance by putting Big Data, analytics and robotic process automation to use. Leveraging these tools, in conjunction with rethinking end-to-end processes can help to optimize revenue, reduce risk and drive cash flow.

Discover how to free up your staff to focus on strategic thinking and higher-level outcomes.

Webinar: Data-Driven Finance for Achieving Excellence in Order-to-Cash Operations

On Thursday, February 9, 2017, join Sutherland’s Jon Sunthimer, Vice-President, Finance Transformation Practice, for the webinar Data-Driven Finance for Achieving Excellence in Order-to-Cash Operations. Continue reading

Cash (Application) is King

600px-shutterstock_158110817Cash application is a deceptively simple process: apply customer payments to open receivables. Many companies admit they are not handling it well. Yet, the trickle down effect is quite significant, resulting in better visibility for A/R managers and lower cycle times.

Unfortunately, the cash application process is often neglected, and in many companies, highly manual and time-consuming. It’s not uncommon to find personnel scanning (and re-scanning) remittances, searching for POs and keying in payment details manually. Combine this inefficient environment with a fast-changing world where remittance is now sent in a variety of formats from paper checks to credit card to e-transfers, and the ultimate result is a bottleneck between customer payment and working capital. Continue reading

Stop Collections Roulette

accounts receivableEvery year, companies around the world write off millions of dollars in bad debt caused by both B2B and B2C clients who cannot or will not pay their invoice.

Yet in these times of uncertainty, the collections function is under increasing pressure to up their game, moving away from best-guess and “my experience tells me” approaches.

As the volume of information that businesses amass rises exponentially, more and more organizations are moving away from a traditional reactive approach and instead leveraging predictive analytics technologies.

Predictive analytics can not only help companies understand which customers will pay, which ones will delay or who is more likely to default, it can also transform an Accounts Receivable department, vastly improving cash flow. At Sutherland, we have seen up to 15-20% improvement in accounts receivables management (credit period, delinquencies, etc.) simply by analyzing current and historical payment data. Continue reading

Speeding up the Slow Flow of Corporate Receivables

hospitalityHow many conferences or events did you attend last year? One, two, five or more? If so, you’re not alone. The conference industry is booming, and with it, corporate event room rentals and accommodations play a significant role on the hospitality industry’s balance sheet.

All hotels recognize that prompt payment of all corporate billing is key to ensuring cash flow and profit margins. Yet, it is not unusual to see corporate accounts receivables with an average collection period of 60 days or more. This can have a downstream effect on financial statements, budgeting and collections – as well as a hotel’s ability to pay its short-term liabilities.

There are some key challenges facing hospitality organizations: Continue reading

Healthcare: Revenue Management’s Impact on the Patient Experience

healthcareIn the healthcare industry, organizations are dedicated to delivering high quality, effective and compassionate care, which is equally balanced with the key imperative of cost management. It’s a tightrope of patients’ experience balanced with profitability.

With this ongoing pressure to improve financial performance and patient experience, healthcare organizations are closely eyeing the revenue cycle for both cash flow performance improvement, as well as assuring patient-friendly practices.

Patient experience can be described as the sum of all interactions with a healthcare organization throughout the continuum of care – from initial diagnosis to final payment. How any organization helps guide the patient’s journey through the maze of healthcare payment and reimbursement is mission critical to customer experience.

Setting Expectations

Too often, patients are left in the dark concerning the revenue aspect of care, which can lead to unpleasant surprises. And, a revenue cycle management employee may be the last point of contact for the patient, at a time when they are vulnerable and healing. Continue reading

The Top 5 Advantages of Outsourcing Collections

accounts receivableIt seems you can’t open any business magazine or newspaper without seeing some article about cash flow pressures. In these tough economic times, cash flow is the lifeline of any business. Getting paid on time is key, and when you don’t, then getting collections right is more important than ever.

Businesses must make the most of their limited capital in order to stand up to – and surpass – the fierce competition. Effective management of credit and collections in-house can be a tedious and complex task that consumes huge amounts of resources and employee time. During these leaner times, it simply isn’t an option to have bad credits or failed collections.

A growing number of companies are beginning to leverage outsourcing to be able to focus on their core business and remove the administrative and transactional processing burden. Here are the top five advantages to outsourcing collections. Continue reading

Delivering Value Beyond Cost: F&A’s Role in Customer Experience

Companies have long emphasized the high value of customer care touchpoints—those critical moments when customers interact with the business throughout the buying cycle. When organizations are able to adroitly manage the end-to-end customer experience, the benefits are numerous – from improved revenue to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Yet, usually the customer journey is viewed through the lens of the front office –customer service and support. The reality is that many other departments within any organization contribute to the over-arching customer experience. This includes the Finance and Accounting department.

For example, we worked closely with a global Fortune 500 technology manufacturer and distributor client to consolidate, standardize and apply best practices to their Accounts Receivable processes. During this engagement we learned how a customer order—processed either accurately or inaccurately—impacts both the customer experience and the correlating back-end costs. Continue reading

Are You in Denial?

Healthcare organizations understand that they need effective revenue cycle management to successfully transition to a value-based reimbursement model.

As of October 1st, the move to ICD-10 – the 10th revision of the medical classification list by the World Health Organization (WHO) – came into effect. This revised classification system has much more complexity, as there are north of 68,000 existing codes, as opposed to approximately 13,000 in ICD-9. The long-term resulting benefit of ICD-10 for providers, coders and patients will be its greater specificity; the ultimate goal is more accurate billing and better descriptions of procedures, conditions, illnesses and medical needs. (Struck by a duck? Sucked into a jet engine? There’s a code for that. )

Although the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided a General Equivalent Mapping (GEM) tools to convert ICD-9 to ICD-10 (or the other way around,) this translation system is burdensome, with many missing relationships, resulting in convoluted and inconsistent mappings. Continue reading