Having worked in this sphere for more than fifty years I have been close to this critical evolution, I have witnessed literally hundreds of presentations on “brave new products”. Some have been good, some bad and some indifferent. However, there have been precious few that I immediately viewed as “Game Changers” and as this writing is the product of my personal experience and exposure there is no suggestion by me that the product was unique or first to the market. Also, the quality of the presentations and presenter was critical and getting the right messages across in terms of benefits, cost and challenges must be eloquently articulated. To achieve that the presenter must be completely knowledgeable of their product, the market they are operating within and what will deliver clear benefit to the prospective client. There is a corresponding duty falling on the recipient
to be professionally and commercially alert.

Considering all the above my nominations as “Game Changers” would be as follows:

Collection Workbench

In the early 1990’s I was given a presentation by a gentleman called Mike Wilstrop of a company called The Beaver Corporation (later to change its name when entering the US for reasons that I can
remember but choose not to include to you) Mike fulfilled all the duties of the presenter in admirable fashion and as I recall succeeded in making the presentation entertaining by taking a mallet to a desktop and destroying it. The product being promoted was a collection workbench, which for me was a second-generation product in that until that point information technology was a simple electronic sales ledger. The Collection workbench looked to automate the day-to-day activity of collection specialists. Its advanced calendar and call scheduling driven by an accurate database and teamed with an effective query management system had efficiency written all over it. The costing was reasonable, and it was not too difficult to turn efficiency savings into a reasonable return on investment.

Electronic Invoicing

The second presentation that was an eye opener was from Lee Allen of Netsend in the early 2000’s and was more widely around electronic documentation, but for us was focused on invoicing via the sales ledger. The system itself was speedy, efficient and cost effective but there were two absolutely usp’s. Firstly, at a stroke it completely killed off the age-old problem of invoices being unavailable to the client; either accidentally or deliberately. Given how many collection calls required the collectors to go through the pain staking process of accessing, sending and confirming delivery of invoices disappeared over night, therefore contributed massively to positive cash flow and unnecessary administrative effort was saved. The 2nd compelling reason was that with many product enhancements in support of credit and collections it was proving difficult to quantify in
financial terms the efficiency savings. With electronic invoicing there was an easy direct comparison between costs of post versus the electronic system. Therefore, preparing a compelling return on investment argument was a simple no-brainer.

Fast Financing

Around the same time, I had been introduced to a company called E-Credit.com who were already providing products in the collection workbench and credit risk assessment areas. They had at the time developed a system called Fast Financing whereby an electronic order would be received and within the product the order would be referred to a fast-financing section that went through a high to low list of lenders down to sub-prime lenders until it was automatically accepted. This system was far sighted, and the benefits could have been immense. It was also expensive, but regrettably while trying to get it accepted significant changes occurred within the company that I was working for at the time, and this vendor meant the project never reached fruition. I believe the organisation is still in existence but as I believe I was to be the first client. I remain unsure if it was viably

Managed A/R

Over the last couple of years, I have been pleasantly surprised again by Mr Allen of Netsend but now is off Corcentric (the latter having subsequent purchased the former) and Lee is the senior Vice President responsible for introduction of Managed A/R into the EMEA market. To call Managed A/R a simple product would be a gross understatement. In my mind, it is the creation of a multi-faceted partnership between Corcentric and the client involving an integrate blend of Invoice discounting to a specific DSO without recourse, BPO and the creation of key process control to release cash to the business. Managed A/R is an already proven product in the U.S market and EMEA roll-out is already proceeding well and it should be a priority of every forward thinking credit professional to understand its’ capabilities and evaluate its application to their current portfolio.

I would welcome your thoughts on the Evolution of Products to Support Credit and Collection Operations as we prepare solutions for the future, please email me bill.dunlop@aicdp.global or call me 07764 842904