Improvement within accounting and billing processes in financial management means in part, identifying resource leaks that are often times not seen when working on a day-to-day basis. In the area of Accounts Receivable (AR) management, revenue leakage can take the form of unnecessary overhead costs, the allowance of late customer payments, weak recovery of faulty deductions, or payment write-off levels that have crept too high.
Uncovering these unnecessary and costly billing inefficiencies can be a difficult and time-consuming process. A good place to begin is with accurately measuring the overall AR process cost. Chances are, if you discover that too much is being spent, it is likely there are a number of problems hiding from plain view.
A big chunk of the overall cost of AR is the cost of invoicing, rendered in terms of the cost per invoice incurred by companies. Specifically, the process of generating and delivering customer invoices. This also includes the cost of the employee time spent creating methods and procedures for communicating and delivering invoices and statements for services and products.
The invoicing process encompasses the maintenance of customer/product master files, the generation and transmittal of customer billing data to the customer, the posting of receivable entries, and the resolution of customer billing inquiries. It does not include receiving payments.
Based on a recent survey of 190 companies in the Americas, the top performers spent $0.71 or less per invoice. The weakest performers, spent $11.50 or more per invoice. The median amount was $3.17 per invoice.
If CFOs find their company’s cost per invoice in or near the bottom quartile, the potential cost savings gained from streamlining the process and moving above the median could prove very beneficial. Beyond the improvement to the company’s bottom line, a sustainable accounting and billing process repair could deliver benefits such as stronger protections from fraud, better cash-flow predictability, and fewer billing errors, resulting in happier customers. Customer satisfaction is also a key driver of business growth.
Improving AR can help a company reach operational efficiency and effectiveness targets, but it shouldn’t be done in a vacuum. The first step is to benchmark current performance against similar companies of the same size and/or industry. Then determine how far away you are from the cost-reduction goal. With that information at hand, the CFO can initiate valuable team discussions to pinpoint how and where the current process model is leaking time, money, and employee effort.
Having key managers map out the entire AR process — or, better yet, the whole order-to-cash process, is crucial for the CFO to identify process bottlenecks and other constraints. The CFO will dig deep into trouble spots to sort out the assumptions and logic behind process steps. They will also take a close look at organizational structure, who does what, in what location, when and why? Each business situation is unique and will require its own custom strategy to maximize the long-term efficiency of the accounting and billing process.
If you are a business owner or CEO within the San Francisco Bay Area or Silicon Valley, in need of an experienced part-time CFO to help your company improve accounting and billing process management, cash flow, as well as profit margins, our highly skilled outsourced CFO services provide direct access to high-quality expertise in a cost-effective manner.
CFO Growth Advisors (CGA) specializes in unique and highly effective growth strategies that are tailored to help companies grow more quickly and efficiently while improving sales & profit growth. Contact us to learn more.