On 15-16 March 2021, Sidetrade invited some of the top global Order-to-Cash leaders to join our first O2C Summit. Together, we took this opportunity to learn each other’s best-kept secrets on developing successful Order-to-Cash strategies. Here are five key takeaways from our sessions.
1. The post-pandemic future of Order-to-Cash
Despite the challenges of the past twelve months, it’s clear there’s a shift towards positive thinking among finance professionals. In many of the sessions, our speakers were confident that the challenges of the pandemic had actually given rise to improvements in the way they worked; the dash for cash meant more teams from around the business were on board with the aims of the cash collection team, and CFOs began to see more collaborative working than ever before. The crucial thing here to bear in mind is to ensure that functional silos don’t reform as the world of work returns to normal.
“Sales, finance, procurement and credit control were more joined up in the heat of the crisis than they have been in the last three years” – CFO of a global manufacturer
2. The benefits of knowing your clients
Faced with a global crisis, everyone suddenly found themselves in the same boat – all scrambling to collect more cash to stabilize their businesses. Here’s where the human element comes in. Knowing your clients and offering them leniency through payment plans or other options can go a long way to building a happy working relationship; as one of our speakers mentioned, “You find out who your friends are.” Acts of good faith during times of challenge can lead to more business deals in the future – knowing your clients and treating them well can help ensure your invoices are top of the pile.
3. The transformation of the Credit Control function
With more focus on cash collection during the pandemic and Credit Control in the spotlight, we discovered that this is a team long overdue a transformation. One of our panel speakers leads “Credit Services” instead of Credit Control; the word “control” can sound too rigid, and they wanted to position the Credit function as a service that enhances the entire sales process. Credit Control, moreover, should be viewed as a profession rather than a back-office function; recruiting passionate people into the team can help you evangelize the merits of this crucial department around the business and help gain cross-functional buy-in to your goals.
4. The ways in which technology supports Order-to-Cash
We heard that during the pandemic some CFOs added early warning indicators to their dashboards to help monitor cash flow risk, and enhanced AI technology was able to automate manual tasks to enable cash collectors to focus on value-add processes. There can be fear or perceived risk when adopting a new technology solution, but tech transformations should be business-led rather than IT-led, with a focus on ROI and usability. With senior stakeholders bought in to the benefits of an Order-to-Cash platform, the priority should be ensuring that the cash collection team get what they need from the solution – whether that’s enhanced reporting, more detailed insight, or AI-led automation.
5. The rewards of building a cash culture
With technology, your clients, and your senior stakeholders on side, you’re on your way to building a world-class cash culture. Success here is all about ownership and accountability – make your commercial teams aware that the deal isn’t done until the money is in the bank, and go above and beyond to communicate the results of your cash collection efforts. Set and publicize team targets, rally your teams to push themselves at month end, and when sharing metrics and KPIs it’s crucial you measure what matters with clear and accurate visuals – avoid “analysis paralysis” and focus on the results, to bring everyone in the Order-to-Cash cycle on board with your achievements.