COD Part 2: Streamlining Order Processing in B2B with Electronic Cash on Delivery

A New Approach to COD

As we illustrated in Part 1 of this blog series, ‘What’s Wrong with Cash on Delivery’, facilitating transactions through traditional Cash-on-Delivery (COD) remains a popular collections method for suppliers, but it’s not without its downsides. But what other option is there for suppliers who wish to maximize the benefits of traditional COD, without sacrificing anything from their current collections process? Enter ‘Electronic Cash on Delivery’, or eCOD.

eCOD is a fundamentally new approach to cash-on-delivery which, among other advantages, enables suppliers to move their COD customers online. Electronic COD customers are presented with a self-service portal where they can access all of their account and billing information, and invoices and statements, in one centralized, configurable, and secure location.

AutoPay

At the heart of eCOD is ‘AutoPay’, which can be synced with a supplier’s order fulfilment process, regardless of whether they operate according to a just-in-time inventory model, or if they receive payments after delivery. Payments can be processed on receipt (when invoices are published or delivered), on a due date, or at a specific time. eCOD, with its AutoPay functionality, delivers a streamlined order intake process for suppliers and facilitates faster payment processing with reduced cash application errors.

With eCOD, suppliers eliminate the need for cash and checks while gaining greater visibility into their customers’ accounts. Customers using eCOD benefit by gaining access to a portal that puts them in control. The portal enables these customers to add or update their preferred payment method, view past invoices and payment activity, apply existing credits to new invoices, and collaborate with their suppliers in real time.

Why Suppliers Should Adopt eCOD Today

Here are 6 of the primary reasons why suppliers currently offering traditional COD should explore eCOD options today:

Supplier Benefits

  1. Greater Visibility Into Customer Accounts
  2. Faster Payment Processing
  3. Reduced Safety Risk & Better Dispute Management

Customer Benefits

  1. Real-Time Collaboration with Suppliers
  2. Payment Experience that Suits Your Preferences
  3. Improved Path to Becoming Credit Customers

More than ever, being able to offer your customers a customized user experience that meets their needs is critical to maintaining business continuity and enabling business growth. At Versapay, we’ve designed our platform around the principles of customer-centric AR. We’ll help you empower your customers with an intuitive self-service, online payment experience, for credit and COD customers alike.

Versapay Boosts Leadership Team with Hiring of Experienced Market Leaders

Toronto, ON – July 15, 2020 – Versapay Corporation, the leader in AR Automation and B2B Integrated Payments solutions, is pleased to announce the addition of three new members to its Executive Leadership Team. Keith Reed joins as Chief Sales Officer, Bob Stark takes the role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Philip Pettinato becomes the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), bringing a combined 75+ years of leadership experience in financial technology to the company. The leadership team’s expansion follows the announcement of Great Hill Partners’ (“Great Hill”) acquisition of Versapay, which was completed in February 2020.

“Versapay continues to achieve record setting results and is poised for the next stage of our growth story,” stated Craig O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer of Versapay. “Adding three leaders with the pedigree of Keith, Phil and Bob, who have each driven impressive growth multiple times in their financial technology careers, injects a new level of experience to our proven management team.”

Keith Reed comes to Versapay with 25 years leading and executing go-to-market strategies. Keith was most recently the Chief Operating Officer at Keap, where he led product, sales, marketing and customer facing functions. Keith previously held senior roles overseeing sales, marketing, and channel development for Intuit Corporation and magicJack.

Bob Stark joins Versapay with over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and product strategy in cash, payments, and risk technology. Most recently, Bob was the VP of Strategy for Kyriba, where he was responsible for global product marketing and strategy. Over the course of his career, Stark has built a strong track record for positioning companies as thought leaders in their industries.

With nearly 30 years’ experience in SaaS and financial technology across a diverse set of company environments, Phil Pettinato has led the full lifecycle of software product development, including concept, planning, design, development, and go-to-market activities. Prior to joining Versapay, Pettinato was CTO of Reval, where he was responsible for Reval’s market leading SaaS treasury and risk management system.

“I continually heard about Versapay from clients, analysts, and bank contacts, so was familiar with their success in simplifying the customer payment experience and accelerating cash conversion,” added Bob Stark. “The opportunity to help Versapay deliver an authentic digital transformation story for the CFO is something we are all passionate about.” 

About Versapay Corporation

Versapay is focused on changing the way companies do business together by offering AR Automation and B2B Integrated Payments solutions for mid-market and enterprise businesses.  Our solutions enable our clients to offer a superior customer experience, enabling CFOs to accelerate cash conversion, collaborate online, and eliminate paper, checks and manual business processes. Based in Toronto with five offices across the US, Versapay is owned by Great Hill Partners, a Boston-based technology investment firm.

More information about Versapay is available at www.versapay.com

For additional information, please contact:

Katie Canton
Content Marketing
Versapay Corporation
(647) 797-1074
katie.canton@versapay.com

Voice of Our Customers: AR Automation

In this short video, you’ll hear from our customers as they explain how VersaPay’s AR Automation solution has changed the way they do business.

From replacing inefficient manual work to making it easier to do business with, automating the AR process with VersaPay ARC has improved the day-to-day operations for many organizations.

COD Part 1: What’s Wrong with Cash on Delivery?

Traditional Cash on Delivery

Cash on Delivery, or Collect on Delivery, or COD as it is commonly abbreviated, is a valuable payment acceptance method for some suppliers to implement when managing customer payments. Suppliers may choose to provide certain customers with COD as their preferred payment option for its quick onboarding process, and its ability to offer smaller or riskier accounts with a path towards becoming credit customers. In this way, the customer receives the product they need to run their business, while the supplier maintains cash flow that is not dependant on the customer’s credit worthiness. Similarly, COD guarantees suppliers will receive payment; with no payment terms that must be agreed to, and with lower minimum order requirements, suppliers are typically more accepting of purchase orders that meet both of these conditions.

However, as this year’s call to work remotely, or to be socially distant if you do have to work on premises has taught us, providing payment at time of delivery isn’t always safe and it isn’t always possible.

What’s Wrong With COD?

COD carries with it several risks that have the potential to harm a supplier’s business. Here are 4 pain points in the COD collections process that are cause for concern for suppliers today:

1. COD Impedes Cash Flow
For suppliers accepting offline COD payments such as cash or checks, there is often a delay between receiving funds from their customers and depositing them into their bank account. As a result, there is a period of time in which these suppliers are unable to access new funds and apply it to their business. COD is known to create barriers to cash flow and thus should be avoided where possible, so as to ensure suppliers maintain business continuity, can access their funds, and use them accordingly.

2. Offline Payment Methods Impact Cash Application
“Offline” payment methods like cash and checks add significant complexity to the collections process for suppliers, and directly impact their ability to apply payments to invoices. For each offline payment method utilized by their COD customers, suppliers may have different processes for how they apply payments; how a supplier applies check payments may be different from how they apply cash payments, which may be different from how they handle credit card payments. Consequently, finance teams tend to spend a lot of time processing and applying customer payments. Offline payment methods like checks also carry a high margin for human error. Misspelled names, incorrect payment amounts, or wrong check dates all directly impact a supplier’s ability to apply their customer’s payment and may lead to future – possibly more substantial – financial issues.

3. Security & Safety Concern for Delivery Personnel
Collection on delivery carries with it several security and safety concerns for suppliers and their customers. In the case of cash transactions, there is a security concern for your customers and your delivery personnel. Handling a large amount of cash could potentially leave your customers or delivery team vulnerable to the risk of theft. No matter how large or small the value of the exchange may be, it’s simply not worth it to potentially endanger your team, your customers or your business.

4. COVID-19 and the Risk of Disease
As the world continues dealing with COVID-19, accepting payments in-person in the form of checks or cash puts people at risk of contracting or spreading the virus. In the age of technology and online payment solutions, there really is no reason suppliers should continue relying on face-to-face interactions and offline payment methods.

What are the alternatives to traditional COD?

There is a better way to manage COD customers that still provides the benefits of COD – quick onboarding, no credit risk, etc. – but removes the risky in-person interaction and automatically reconciles payments to a supplier’s bank account. We call it eCOD (Electronic Cash on Delivery) and I’ll explain it further in Part 2 of this blog series.

The Accounts Receivable System Flowchart of the Future


Understanding internal systems processes is not easy. Most organizations today have complex structures in place, each with several processes for their varying business units which makes managing and tracking movement within a company incredibly demanding. A prime example of this is the accounts receivable process used by your finance team. While the basic duties of finance teams are common across the board, no one finance department is the same. Each department has their own approach to managing their collections, they use different ERPs, and they face different challenges with their customers. However, one good way for any finance team to get a clear picture of their collections process is to implement an Accounts Receivable System Flowchart.

Thinking through and documenting the process flow is important, as it summarizes the common steps finance teams take when managing their company’s collections process. The flowchart offers clarity to stakeholders by illustrating what effort is required at each level of the collections process, and what the necessary steps are for ensuring money is collected on time from customers.

Visually, it is apparent from the traditional flowchart that when a supplier sends even just one invoice to a customer, the path to final payment often takes a non-linear approach, with many different moving parts that must be managed accordingly. The complexity of this process becomes exacerbated when you reflect on the “one-to-many” nature of most supplier-customer relationships. A customer may have only one supplier, but, most, if not all suppliers have many customers who carry out transactions with them on a regular basis. Without the flowchart available, tracking customer collections would be near impossible. Breaking down the path to final payment in a visual format is integral to simplifying the collections process and should be used by suppliers at all times so they may better manage their receivables.

The Future: Automated Accounts Receivable System Flowchart

The key to improving the accounts receivable process lies in automation. With all of the progress that’s been made technologically in the last several years, it’s mystifying to see finance teams who have chosen not to advance their collections process to keep up with the times. There are a number of solutions in the marketplace today which specialize in automating B2B collections. Implementing any of these tools would enable businesses to modernize their existing collections process and adopt the new Automated Accounts Receivable System Flowchart.

With automated accounts receivable, the road to collecting from customers is much more straightforward and less reliant on human intervention. Implementing such a solution will give your finance team back the time it needs to tackle meaningful work, allowing you to grow and scale your business and generate new cash flows.

How Automation Can Improve the AR Process

The first flowchart outlined above is effective for illustrating the traditional steps most finance teams take, but this is a dated approach to managing collections. The monotonous nature of each task means finance teams spend more time trying to collect money from their customers than they do on meaningful work. If the first flowchart above reflects the current state of your collections process, you may want to think about how you can improve your collections experience for both your employees and your customers. Here are four ways AR automation software can help improve your collections process:

  1. Incentivize Customers
    Incentivizing your customers can go a long way to reducing your company’s DSO. Encourage your customers to pay you earlier by offering them sales discounts or other perks for paying their dues in advance. AR automation software offers flexible payment rules, so you can incentivize your customers to pay you earlier (e.g., Pay with credit card in 10 days, receive a 2% purchase discount).
  1. Simplify the Payment Process
    If your customers face a series of hurdles before they are even able to make payment, they are less likely to pay on time. To ensure your customers are paying you in a timely fashion, be sure to make your payment process as simple as possible and reduce unnecessary legwork as much as possible.
  1. Real Time Collaboration
    AR automation software makes it easy for your team to interact with your customers in real time. Disputes that would normally hold up payment in a traditional invoicing process can be quickly handled and resolved with AR automation, enabling your collections team to collect on outstanding invoices much quicker and with less manual effort.
  1. Eliminate the Need for Customer Notes
    AR automation software automatically generates an audit trail of all of your interactions with your customers, giving you the information you need to easily settle disputes should they arise. The software works for you, making note of any credit terms, payment deadlines, or charges for late payments you and your customers have agreed to.

To learn more about how AR automation software can help your finance team improve its collections process, contact us today.

How You Can Preserve Cash Flow to Strengthen Business in a Slowing Economy

This report was prepared by Modern Distribution Management, a niche media and market research company focused on global wholesale distribution and industrial/construction product markets. 

The report appears below in its entirety and is also available in PDF format.

Use good cash flow management to succeed in any economic condition.

The lifeblood of any organization, operating capital is one of the key factors that keep companies running in both smooth and challenging economic conditions. When a distributor has cash flow, it can make payroll, pay its suppliers, keep the lights on and even manage the unexpected costs of running a business. Without this financial cushion, companies quickly find themselves operating invoice to invoice, and pulling resources from one area to cover expenses in another.

With the national economic recovery in its 10th year, wholesale distributors may have forgotten what it takes to keep the lights on and the wheels running in a more challenging selling environment. Despite industry disruptors like Amazon Business, geopolitical issues such as trade wars, and a massive uptick in business-to-business e-commerce, wholesalers have been posting healthy year-over-year sales growth.

Distributors saw their top-line revenue numbers and profits grow in 2018, according to the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors’ most recent State of the Industry report. Most segments of the industry experienced record-high levels of activity. In total, the industry reached a record-high $6.01 trillion in sales for 2018 (up 7.5% from 2017), and now comprises 29% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Based on various earnings reports and quarterly announcements, 2019 will be a year of similar results.

But there’s a wind of change in the air. Unlike other post-recession years, 2020 brings some uncertainty with it. By the second half of 2019, for example, some economists and analysts were predicting a downturn within the next 12-24 months. NAW was also picking up on some “slowing growth” occurring in the industry. This braking was expected to last through 2019 and into early 2020.

“The current 12-month growth rate (12/12 rate-of-change) is 7.5%,” NAW states, “but the quarterly growth rate is a smaller 4.7%, confirming that the industry is on the backside of the business cycle.”

This is one of several signs that distributors can use to prepare ahead. As part of that preparation, companies can carefully examine their cash flow positions and take the necessary steps to build and/or retain those reserves. In this white paper, we explore the current business environment, show how it could evolve over the next year or two and provide actionable advice that all companies can use to preserve cash flow in any economic condition.

125 Months of Positive Growth

Since emerging from the grips of the Great Recession in 2009, the U.S. economy has been in growth mode. After contracting sharply in the Great Recession, the economy began growing in mid-2009, following enactment of the financial stabilization bill (Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Economic growth has averaged 2.3% annually since then, with growth reaching above 3.5% during several quarters and just two quarters of negative growth. Through November 2019, the U.S. economy has grown for 125 months without any significant decline in economic activity that would mark the beginning of a recession, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. This puts the current expansion as the longest on record in NBER dating, which goes back to the 1850s.

But all economies are cyclical, which means at least some level of downturn is likely lurking around the next corner. The distributors that take this into account now, and that examine and shore up their cash flows sooner rather than later, will be in the best position to ride out the storm and even come out stronger.

In the mid-2000s, very few companies followed this advice the last time around. By the time the recession took its toll on work pipelines, available capital and new projects, many companies had to scramble to cover payroll, pay their bills and keep the lights on. Far-reaching and longlasting, the recession claimed numerous victims on many different fronts. Wholesale distributors weren’t immune, and many of them either had to dramatically scale back their operations or go out of business entirely.

Companies are now in the midst of a presidential election year, impacted by as-yet unresolved trade wars (and the resultant tariffs), international issues like Brexit and the early signs of a softening U.S. economic cycle. Concurrently, the yield curve, confidence indexes, employment data, the Fed’s recession probability model and the Leading Economic Index (LEI) were all beginning to flash “yellow” at the end of 2019, with each revealing some potential for a downturn in the next 1-2 years.

Sentiment among American consumers and businesses remains historically elevated, Bankrate reports, but did begin to dip in early 2019. Bankrate credits the tariff wars and trade tensions with creating at least some of that uncertainty. “Consumer confidence remains historically elevated, though it tumbled in early 2019 as a result of the lengthy government shutdown. It’s since recovered and held stable.”

8 Ways to Preserve Cash Flow

The total amount of money received and doled out over a given period (usually a quarter), cash flow can either be positive or negative. Positive cash flow indicates that a company’s liquid assets are increasing, enabling it to settle debts, reinvest in its business, return money to shareholders, pay expenses and provide a buffer against future financial challenges.

Companies with strong financial flexibility can take advantage of profitable investments. They also fare better in downturns, by avoiding the costs of financial distress. Once the money going in and out of the business has been calculated, companies can come up with a “free cash flow” number or FCF. This is the money that the distributor has left over to expand the business or return to shareholders, after paying dividends, buying back stock, or paying off debt.

Because they effectively bridge the gap between manufacturers who make products and the end user customers that need those goods, wholesale distributors can find themselves in a sticky spot on the cash flow spectrum. This can turn into a more serious problem when economic conditions begin to soften.

Here are eight steps distributors can take now to start preparing for a more challenging economy:

  1. Spend your pennies wisely. While it may be tempting to view everything as an “investment,” smart companies look at whether those expenses are absolutely necessary … or not. If that additional employee, warehouse expansion or new storeroom floor isn’t going to positively impact your bottom line over the next 6-12 months, you may want to put a pin in that idea until the economy stabilizes.
  2. Open a business line of credit. “Set up a line of credit while you’re flush with cash,” software provider Logiwa advises. “Banks won’t be as willing to help you out when your business is struggling, so it’s best to arrange a line of credit in advance.” It’s important to note that this doesn’t displace the need to maintain a positive cash flow, but it is an additional way to make ends meet when sales pipelines start to slow.
  3. Use an inventory management system. By their very nature, distributors have a lot of resources tied up in inventory. Some track inventory by hand, others use spreadsheets and others do it through their enterprise resource planning systems. Another good option is a robust inventory management system that can be used to track inventory in real-time, set reorder points, manage barcode or RFID scanning and/or integrate with existing distribution systems (i.e., a warehouse management system). “Connecting your IMS to other ERP systems streamlines workflows, maintains the accuracy of your data and leads to efficiencies that generate cost savings,” Logiwa points out. 
    “When growth slows, looking at internal investments to improve your inventory position and cash flow can be the difference between making a plan or missing it.”    
  4. Stay on top of your receivables. Run a report and determine which customers are paying on time or in arrears. Call any that fall into the second category — and particularly those that have already or are close to extending past the agreed-upon terms — and start collecting. “Offer incentives for companies that pay their invoices early and follow through with charging the interest or late fees outlined in your original contract,” Logiwa advises. “This will discourage customers from paying you late.”
  5. Use technology to get your money faster. By delivering invoices electronically rather than via mail, you can speed up billing and collection. By implementing a vendor portal, you can give vendors electronic access to invoices, enable electronic payments and reduce the time it takes to resolve disputes. “These solutions also tend to provide organizations with timely and robust reporting that can help you take proactive steps to resolve delinquent accounts or take advantage of supplier discounts,” Deloitte advises.
  6. Understand your expenses. In MDM’s Operating in a Downturn: Avoiding the Mistakes of the Past, distribution expert Albert D. Bates gives distributors pointers on how to prepare for a potential “slower growth” period. As part of that process, he tells companies to look carefully at their fixed and variable expenses and ensure that they fall within these ranges:
    • Fixed expenses are “overhead expenses.” The key factor is that once a budget is set for
      the year, these expenses will only change if management takes specific actions to change them, such as negotiating a lower rent. For most firms, fixed expenses represent somewhere around 80% of total expenses.
    • Variable expenses, in contrast, rise and fall automatically as sales rise and fall. They
      include sales commissions, interest on accounts receivable and the like. For the typical firm variable expenses are estimated to be 5% of sales.
  7. Don’t hoard your cash. A common reaction to declining sales, hoarding cash is a no-win proposition during a downturn. “Inevitably, this leads to converting inventory and accounts receivable into cash,” Bates says. In fact, lowering inventory almost always involves a “stop buying” edict that causes the firm’s service level to deteriorate. “Accounts receivable reductions have a similar impact on sales,” Bates cautions. “Lowering either of these will simply drive sales down at a faster rate.”
  8. Use good forecasting practices. An important aspect of cash management and profitability, forecasting involves looking at both income and cash flow statements and linking your cash flow forecasts to key working capital metrics from the balance sheet, such as DIO (days inventory on-hand), DSO (days sales outstanding), and DPO (days payables outstanding). Deloitte tells firms to also include capital expenditures, debt repayments and other operating cash flows into the equation. “To enhance the accuracy of these forecasts, consider automating this process rather than relying on error-prone and labor-intensive spreadsheets,” the firm advises. “Also, be sure to integrate cash flow forecasting with your profit & loss (P&L) statement and balance sheet so you can track performance against a range of indicators.”

Disruption vs. Economic Conditions

Examining all 19 wholesale distribution sectors, recent research from MDM paints a picture of a selling environment where consumer and government spending are keeping the economy healthy, but where manufacturing continues to soften. Annual revenue changes for the industry overall represented 1% growth in 2019 versus 2018. “We’re expecting a rebound in activity in 2020,” Indian River Consulting Group’s J. Michael Marks said in a recent MDM webcast.

Despite his bullish outlook, Marks cautions distributors to look more closely at industry disruption versus economic conditions, and to factor the former into any good cash flow management approach. These steps go beyond shoring up balance sheets, taking out lines of credit, and doing a better job of A/R collections. They range from getting sales involved in the process to collaborating with key suppliers to developing “moats” that help your distributorship stand out from the pack.

Defined as “hard-to-digitize services,” these moats have helped companies like Anixter maintain competitive advantage in both good and challenging selling environments. “Anixter created a moat and was very public about it; they’ve been doing it for years,” says Marks. “Ultimately, it’s about being able to separate out a percentage of revenue every month that doesn’t sell well using a part number on a website.”

On the supplier collaboration front, Marks encourages distributors and manufacturers to have frank discussions with one another versus just sending invoices and payments back and forth. “Look at who’s doing what in the channel, and figure out ways to reduce redundancies,” he advises. “That advice stands in any economic conditions.”

Marks tells any distributor that wants to preserve through a recessionary period and/or an industry disruption to focus on building a great customer experience. “Most managers and owners don’t know their customers; they just get information from their salespeople,” he says. “Gather the data and insights that lead to a better understanding of your customers, and then allocate resources appropriately.”

Finally, Marks points out that companies only gain market share on the shoulders of an economic cycle, and not when everyone else is going strong and growing quickly. “No one had cash to grow at the bottom,” he notes. To best position themselves for success during and after a possible downturn, Marks says not waiting until it’s too late to get aggressive with receivables collections and inventory reductions will go a long way in helping to preserve valuable cash.

“Pay attention to your cash-to-cash cycles, knowing that most distributors tend to get complacent with 10 days of cash to withdraw,” says Marks, “and don’t be afraid to dramatically reduce inventory, knowing that manufacturers will sell at lower prices when they’re stuck holding finished goods inventory and everyone’s cancelling orders.”

Don’t Paddle Your Boat Without an Oar

Seventy-five percent of economists believe the U.S. will tip into recession by 2021, according to the National Association for Business Economics. The outlook reflects growing skepticism among economists and investors that the U.S. economy will be able to withstand a protracted trade war with China without serious harm amid a weakening global outlook.

The cornerstone of any successful business, good cash flow management is one way to future-proof a distributorship and keep it on track during challenging economic times. Whether a recession takes hold in 2020 — or waits a few years to show up — there are specific steps that companies can take at all times to shore up their coffers and preserve cash flow.

“Trying to run a business without managing cash flow is like trying to paddle a boat without an oar,” QuickBooks points out. “Even if you succeed, it will be an upstream exercise guaranteed to wear you out. Not to mention, poor cash flow management can result in your business shutting down completely. With poor cash flow, it only takes one major downturn or disaster to leave you washed up.”

To avoid these and other problems associated with poor cash flow, distributors can start instituting good cash flow management policies now, while business is good. That way, they won’t be caught off guard if and when project pipelines dry up and a sales slowdown ensues.

As an added bonus, those companies that do maintain healthy cash reserves during a recession are often in the best position to make strategic acquisitions, invest in their businesses, open new locations and hire the best (and recently laid-off) people to round out their teams.

“The good news is that all recessions end,” Bates says. “Even the so-called Great Recession ended with a sustained period of sales growth. While the next recession hasn’t even started, now is the time to plan for it. Furthermore, planning should not only focus on what to do during the recession, but also how to build momentum for when the recovery starts.”

The 9 Steps Needed to Successfully Implement Your SaaS Finance Solution

As mentioned in our last blog, choosing the right SaaS solution to transform your accounts receivable and finance function requires more than a comparison of features and prices.

When changing a part of your business that impacts the three most important areas – people, cash, customers – organizations need to choose a vendor that is willing to be a true partner. A SaaS solution can only add value if it is adopted and used which is why finance leaders should choose a vendor that is committed to rolling out a successful platform suited to your business needs and your customers’ needs.

In this blog, we outline the essential steps your SaaS supplier should take – pre-launch, during launch, and post-launch – to ensure a successful implementation.

Pre-launch

1. Planning:

A good roadmap is the cornerstone to a successful implementation. Your technology provider should develop a tailored plan that includes your agreed upon adoption goals, KPIs and a detailed needs document. “Make a list of every person, team and department that will use the new tool. This includes day-to-day users, as well as leaders who consume data the tool will produce. Be sure to not only address who your stakeholders are, but how they will be impacted and the timing of the impact.” recommends Eileen O’Loughlin, Senior Content Analyst at Gartner Digital Markets.

2. Implementation Team:

Oftentimes the difference between a successful implementation and an unsuccessful one comes down to the team running the project. Ask your partner for the qualifications of its implementation team. How many projects have they managed? What other projects have they managed? Have they worked with other businesses like yours? You want a project team that is experienced and has the technical expertise to be able to handle your specific requirements.

3. Technical Integration:

Integrating systems is not easy.Look for a partner that has knowledge about your business and your systems, and deep technical expertise on best-in-class integration methods.

4. Training:

Training all appropriate stakeholders and users is essential for success. Choose a partner that offers immediate hands on training, as well as training geared towards enabling you and your organization to be self-sufficient moving forward. The trainer programs and self-service online training will ensure new team members have access to the same standard of training as the initial project team.

Launch:

5. Communication:

Detailed and regular communication among the project team leading up to and during launch is integral to success. Equally important is communication with your clients and end-users affected by this change. Lean on your technology partner to provide tried and tested communication strategies to ensure the highest level of adoption among all users.

6. Data Validation:

Output is only as good as the inputs provided. The data used must be cleaned, tested and validated. Your technology supplier should have a plan for how they are going to test and review your data as well as reconcile and resolve issues.

7. System Testing:

The integrated software must be tested. Ensure your partner provides a complete staging environment, assistance for test planning and interpreting test results, and resolves issues uncovered during testing.

Post-launch:

8. Feedback and continuous improvement:

Having a post-launch and ongoing business review is significant in driving continued success. Your technology partner should facilitate a post-launch review, incorporating feedback from the entire project team. The review should be focused on honest opinions, goals achieved, risks mitigated and what to change or amend moving forward.

9. Ongoing success management:

Anyone who’s rolled-out a SaaS solution before knows that “launch” is really just the first step. The real value comes from what happens after launch. Choose a technology supplier who provides you with a dedicated Client Success Manager (CSM). Your CSM should be an expert in change management, in educating your team, getting them excited about using the powerful new tools at their fingertips, and rolling-out communications strategies to end-users to ensure the highest adoption.

In Summary

When shopping around for a SaaS partner, compare features, compare price, but also compare the implementation offering. A successful implementation is more than just going live on time and on budget. Success is defined by achieving very high levels of customer adoption, and driving KPIs. With the right partner, you should feel confident taking the plunge into your AR and finance transformation.

Implementing a New Technology Solution? Here are 6 Essential Steps for Change Management Success

Change is the one thing that you can count on in today’s world. Whether your organization is pursuing change actively or is being forced to change due to external factors, with changes always taking place, businesses don’t have the option to stand still and survive. This means that processes, strategies, and systems in your workplace need to continuously evolve to ensure your organization remains competitive. Equally important to choosing the right solution is how you plan, prepare, and roll out that solution in your organization. No matter how great a new technology platform is, if nobody uses it, it can’t provide value. This is where the right change management approach is required.

What Exactly is Successful Change Management?

A carefully planned change management strategy should support and promote a smooth transition as well as help make sure that everyone in the organization will be guided every step of the way. But the harsh reality is that new technology initiatives often fail because of ineffective change management, miseducation, and negative attitudes. With this in mind, here are six practical and easy steps to ensure effective change management.

1. Make Sure That All Proposed Changes are Defined Clearly and Aligned to Specific Business Goals

It’s one thing to state what needs changing. But it’s another thing entirely to perform a critical and thorough evaluation against your organization’s performance goals and business objectives to ensure that the change could carry your organization on the right path. This step could also help you better define the value of the proposed changes and, in turn, help you in quantifying the inputs and efforts you need to invest.

2. Ask How, What, and Who Will Be Affected

Next, you should figure out how the changes will affect your organization as well as who and what will be impacted at different organizational levels. Assess how the change will touch each business unit and how it will flow down to each individual. You can then use this information to shape your support and training materials needed to help mitigate any immediate negative effects of the change.

3. Develop a Clear Communication Plan

Everyone in your organization is included in your change journey and, done right, the above steps will highlight which people require which level of communication. You then need to figure out the most effective communication strategy for each group, which must include key messages, a timeline for how you’ll incrementally communicate and roll out the change, as well as the specific communication methods you want to utilize.

4. Provide Sufficient Training and Support

Provide sufficient training to your organization that will give them the knowledge and skills needed to do their jobs efficiently while the change is being rolled out as well as after all changes are implemented. Your training and support plan could include online modules and blended learning methods that incorporate on-the-job mentoring and coaching, as well as face-to-face training sessions.

5. Select the Right Technology Supplier to Partner With

When shopping around for the right solution, businesses often focus the search solely on features, functionality and price. While it’s important to find the right tool for the job, equally important is selecting a technology supplier that is willing to be a true partner. A technology vendor that places importance on ensuring your team is set-up for success, that all groups have the proper training and materials needed, and that integrations are handled by experts using tried and true methods will be the difference between seeing value from this change or not. An easy way to ensure you are selecting a partner who values your success is to ask them about their adoption numbers.

6. Don’t Forget to Measure and Review the Change Management Process Regularly

Throughout your change management journey, you must have a structure in place for measuring the impacts of the changes and ensuring that you have constant reinforcement opportunities to build proficiencies. Lastly, you must continuously review your change management strategy to determine its results and effectiveness and take note of the lessons you have learned along the way.

Yes, the change could come across as intimidating. Still, as you have seen from the above, you can mitigate most risks by taking the time at the beginning of the project to plan and approach things logically. Initial confusion, resistance, and uncertainty are nothing when you have a unified organization that knows exactly where it’s headed and how to get there.

Boston Properties

Boston Properties implemented VersaPay ARC®, a cloud-based solution that automates the entire invoice-to-cash process: presentmentcollaborationcollectionspayments and cash application. With ARC, Boston Properties has given its tenants the ability to self-serve. To be able to see their open balances at all times and make payments, eliminating much of the time and effort previously required by the accounts receivable clerks.

“VersaPay’s technology improves our tenant experience and is a natural and logical next step.”

Jeff Phaneuf, VP Finance and Planning

With ARC, Boston Properties have been able to set up automatic reminders and alerts to notify tenants when payments are due or past due. This has meant less time chasing small dollars and more time spent on activities that can help Boston Properties grow and scale.

“VersaPay has built a robust platform to support commercial real estate companies that will provide self-service and payment options along with a centralized interface for our internal teams.”

Jim Whalen, SVP and CIO/CTO

Payments made via the VersaPay ARC platform are applied automatically, reducing the amount of unapplied cash needing to be dealt with manually. With all tenant conversations stored in one easy to access place, communication with tenants has improved and the amount of back and forth between tenants and the AR team has been reduced.

Boston Properties’ AR team now have the time to do the high-value jobs required for the company to succeed, transforming them from a reactive function to a proactive strategic driver.

Set Your Business Apart with an Automated Collections Process

Buyers’ expectations around what makes a good customer experience has undergone significant transformation in recent years. In today’s world, we expect things to be easy to use, and to receive things how and when we want them. Naturally, these expectations have migrated to the business world and are now impacting the collections process.

Your customers want to be able to pay you how they want, when they want, and they want the process to be as easy as possible. A traditional highly-manual collections process is unable to offer this level of flexibility, and with so many alternatives available in the marketplace today, your customers’ negotiating power is at an all-time high. If your customers feel they are not being adequately accommodated, they will simply take their business elsewhere. Automating your collections process allows you to offer a more customized user experience that enables your customers to pay you according to their terms – permitting your business to better meet these new customer expectations.

What Your Business Gains from Automated Collections

The right AR automation solution will transform your collections process, enabling you and your team to do more with less, better serve your customers and better manage your cashflow. Here are just 5 of the ways an automated collections process will improve your AR:

1.     Reduction in Human Error

The margin for error in manual collections processing is too great to be overlooked. Invoice dates and amounts, supplier names, and check numbers are all prone to containing mistakes when typed in by a person. With an automated collections solution, human error is eliminated, and your team can feel secure in knowing they are always working with accurate information.

2.     Faster Collection

Most AR automation platforms enable your business to accept a wider variety of payment options. Allowing your customers to pay using their preferred method will help you get paid faster. In addition, accepting more digital payment methods such as ACH, EFT, and credit card reduces the processing and reconciliation time that comes with traditional paper-based collections fulfillment.

3.     Cash Flow Optimization

By driving faster collections, an automated collections process will free up money that would otherwise be tied up in late paying and overdue receivables. Automating your collections will help you to better optimize your cash flow, enabling you to be more competitive, and able to invest in projects that further grow and scale your business.

4.     Exception Based vs. Task Based Collections

Popular collection management software, while an improvement over a purely manual collections process, fails in comparison to automation. Most invoice and collection software solutions in the market today better enable task-based collections. With these platforms, all collections activities – sending out invoices, follow-up calls, overdue reminders, etc. –  are all treated as individual tasks that need to be completed and checked off before you can move onto the next task. Although this may help the team stay organized, it’s not providing any meaningful efficiencies. Every task still needs to be completed by a person.

Managing collections via automation, however, handles all of the repetitive, predictable and tedious tasks for you, so that your finance team will only be required to manage the exceptions. By focusing solely on the customers that can’t or won’t pay, your finance team is able to take back control of their time and complete the high-value tasks that will make your business stronger and more competitive.

5.     The Ability to Navigate Economic Uncertainty

For many businesses, the current economic environment has created a shortfall in cashflow, which has meant significant challenges. With continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, businesses need to make processes digital where and when they are able to.  This means that suppliers who rely on paper checks or cash on delivery (COD) from their customers, need to find alternatives. An AR automation solution enables you, your team and your customers to continue to transact while working remotely. By automating your collections, your business will be better equipped to navigate future economic uncertainties as they arise, while helping to maintain adequate cashflows.

What You Lose by Not Automating Your Collections

In the case of collections, choosing not to implement an automation solution will leave your business struggling to keep pace in today’s rapidly changing environment. Success today does not guarantee success tomorrow. Maintaining a manual collections process in today’s economy will ultimately see your business lose its competitiveness and become vulnerable to future challenges.

Externally, pressures from both customers and competitors will create added difficulties, and potentially result in lost business. Internally, you may also face challenges from staff as they grow tired or frustrated with the repetitive and mundane tasks plagued by a manual collections process. When considering transforming your collections process, it is equally as important to think about what you are  gaining as it is to think about what you are losing. Reviewing the latter, as we’ve done here, will more often than not help give your business the clarity it needs to make the final call.