2 TREASURY & RISK MARCH 2017 SPECIAL REPORT
A s companies go about their business, one of the big risks they face is among the most mundane: customers paying them late, or not paying them at all. And credit teams, which are charged with handling this risk, are finding that as the world speeds up,
“In the old days, when everything was
manual, the speed was just a function
of whatever your department policies
were,” said Scott Tillesen, a speaker and
trainer on the topic of credit management.
“But now we’re talking about stuff that’s
measured in minutes, not days.
“You get a phone call, and you’re
supposed to be able to digest all the
information and make a decision,” said
Tillesen, who prior to retiring was vice
president of credit for the Americas at Tech
Data, a Fortune 100 company. “If a lot of this
stuff isn’t predigested and available, you
René Donko, a member of the executive
board at SOPLEX, a German technology
company, agrees that credit decisions are
happening faster. “Business processes speed
up, and the credit manager has to be very
quick in making his decisions,” he said.
The accelerated pace puts the focus on
technology that can help credit managers
Underlying credit teams’ efforts are
their companies’ enterprise resource
planning systems, which contain essential
information on billing and payments. ERP
systems have credit modules, but those
modules don’t provide everything that a
credit team needs.
While an ERP system may know which
invoices are past due, it probably doesn’t
have a function that alerts members of the
credit team to follow up with the customers
that have past-due invoices, Tillesen noted.
Nor would an ERP system let a credit
group differentiate between the collection
strategies it uses for various accounts, or
help it to handle deduction management.
The shortcomings of ERP systems mean
that bigger credit groups have to go outside
their ERP suite for additional tools, just
as they go outside it for additional data,
The information that a credit group
gathers on customers goes far beyond
what’s contained in an ERP system. There
are the credit reports from vendors like
Dun & Bradstreet, as well as financial
statements that customers provide
and documents related to any security
interest the company arranges with a
customer, such as a guarantee. There’s
As credit teams are pushed to make decisions more
quickly, they’re leaning more on software solutions.
BY SUSAN KELLY
they’re being pushed to make decisions on credit as quickly as possible.