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Throughout the ups and downs of 2021, DadeSystems had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of Accounts Receivable, Credit, and other Finance leaders about new challenges they’re facing—and share ideas about how to tackle them. Regardless of business size or vertical, a consistent theme emerged: a never-before level of acknowledgement that technology is imperative for scalability, and a true desire to show how much they value their people by making daily work less manual and more enjoyable.

As we collectively move into 2022 aiming to make our marks on our businesses and teams, below are some recommended resolutions for any business seeking improvements in key financial metrics, scalability, employee job satisfaction, and customer experiences.

Look for an edge when it comes to cash flow.

66%1 of senior executives say cash flow is among their top three concerns and with good reason, as 59% of businesses say they have seen an increase in average days late2. How can you evolve your approach to payment acceptance and cash application to speed access to cash for your organization? Offering customers more flexibility to pay using electronic methods that are most convenient for them means reduced DSO and collections.

Often, making new payment types or channels available to customers can give finance and AR leaders pause as they think through the downstream impacts on reconciliation. What type of remittance information will accompany the payment or require the AR team to retrieve it elsewhere? What will the source of the remittance information be, and will it require additional research for matching? Lockboxes may not help with ACH and card payments, but this need not be a reason for organizations to shy away from accepting digital payment types.

A cash application process that leverages AI and machine learning can auto-match and post 90% of payments, regardless of what type of payment (check, ACH, card, etc.) or the channel through which it is received. Getting back to cash flow, an automated cash application process accelerates revenue recognition and access to cash which can be redeployed in your business. Faster cash application also means that customer credit is replenished more quickly, making new orders possible.

Turn the proverbial page on manual processes, for real.

68%3 of CFOs say they are increasing investment in digital transformation over the next 12 months. It’s on team members like you to identify the areas where outdated, manual processes still exist. These are the projects that have the potential to drive the biggest ROI—which, in AR, can come in the form of cost reduction, improved efficiency, faster customer credit replenishment, fewer collections and write-offs, and stronger customer relationships.

A recent study by Aite-Novarica, indicated that 78% of businesses either already have or plan to implement an integrated receivables or AR automation solution to automate payment reconciliation. Businesses that fall behind the curve in this area run the risk of losing a competitive advantage. Our customers have leveraged AR automation to reduce overall payment processing costs by 50% and reduce time spent on manual cash application activities by 75%. Return on their AR automation investment was achieved as quickly as 60-90 days.

Of the organizations we spoke with in 2021, about a quarter of them indicated that they are about to embark on an ERP upgrade or migration. They were reassured to discover that improvements to their AR process could happen easily, with minimal investment and IT resources, and should happen ahead of these larger projects, to improve and protect the critical customer payment collection and cash application process before, during and after their upgrade project.

Graph showing that 22% of individuals do not have plans to automate payment reconciliations and 78% do or have already implemented solutions.

Retain and empower employees by making their jobs less frustrating and more impactful.

With 81% of CFOs concerned that high turnover and labor shortages will impact their company’s revenue growth3, increasing job satisfaction and reducing turnover is key. Hiring and training new employees is expensive and time-consuming, and your current employees are likely more burnt out, yet just as critical, as ever. Improving productivity and job satisfaction for your current team by reducing manual tasks to enable focus on strategic ones is increasingly important.

Despite the pandemic, many of our customers reported years of record growth in 2020 and 2021, with a notable increase in new customer payment types. Without an AR automation solution like DadePay in place, these customers shared that they would have needed to add significant staff to keep up with the growth. Others shared that they have been able to accommodate 3x business growth with the same level of staff or refocus staff members who previously researched and manually keyed in payment information to more strategic customer-facing activities around credit and collections.

Whether you need greater scalability or simply a happier team, technology like AR automation can be a great enabler.

Acknowledge that B2B purchasing and payment expectations are bound to mirror what we see on the consumer side.

Following the pandemic-induced shift to everything online, B2B brands were not exempt from figuring out how to sell and collect payments in a digital-first and contactless way. They faced the additional challenge of having fewer ready-made solutions available to help them do this successfully.

For many companies, this meant a holistic look at their tools and processes for customer relationship management (CRM), e-commerce, and payments. More and more businesses have been and will continue to implement new channels for payment acceptance (portals, mobile devices, etc.) and even experiment in what have been more consumer-focused Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) payment arrangements.

AR resolutions you can keep.

2022 represents a new opportunity to elevate AR’s strategic importance in the organization, and if there is anything the DadeSystems team has learned from our customers in 2021, it’s that many finance leaders have already done just that, helping their teams and businesses adapt and thrive in what have been incredibly trying and dynamic times. As you formulate your priorities, where can you make meaningful impacts on cash flow, operational efficiency, employee satisfaction, and customer experience?

1. PwC US CFO Pulse Survey, June 2020
2. IOFM
3. PwC US CFO Pulse Survey, August 2021