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Productivity and credit management


Productivity and credit managementProductivity is defined as the ratio between the production produced and the resources used to achieve it.

If its improvement is closely linked to the history and evolution of the company, its scope certainly exceeds the economic framework to concern all human activity..
Indeed, who has not sought to improve a methodology to spend less time doing a task or spending less money to achieve the same result, or better?
Finding an example allows to discover a large number of others, so that it is possible to wonder if productivity is not a rule of life, intimately linked to the inevitable change of any organization and all who exist.

Who does not evolve does not survive. Numerous examples of companies that have disappeared because they have not evolved over the past decades. To believe that it is possible to freeze the present, or even to go back, is a vain illusion.
Be careful though, productivity is not in itself beneficial. It must be carried out in a reasoned and intelligent way. If not, it can be harmful to the company.
But we are in an era of "All productivity". The financial and short-term logics that are in vogue in the world of business push for ever more productivity, without necessarily analyzing whether it is profitable or not.

In this context, it is easy to work against the interests of the company. Facial improvement in the cost of production can quite easily conceal much higher induced costs than the gains obtained (lower quality, customer dissatisfaction, indirect consequences, etc.).

The problem is that these "hidden" costs are rarely known because they are difficult to evaluate and drown in the mass. They do not appear in the executive's PowerPoint presentation that shows to top management cost improvements resulting of the rationalization project completed.

Only operational staff realize the consequences of these regressions. However, the distance between these actors and the management can be such that top management can be quite satisfied with results that are actually the opposite of what they believe.

The executive will have his bonus even if he has worked against the interests of his company and his collaborators.

Credit management is an atypical function in the company; read "Credit Manager: Anatomy of an unusual species";  located between finance and commerce, and is as such sometimes misunderstood by leaders who are reluctant to classify it among the back office functions, very streamlined, or front office, more sensitive.

It does not escape the need to be more productive, which consists in improving the value created (optimization of working capital and cash flow, better management of disputes, lowering of outstanding payments, etc.) with optimized resources.

What productivity for credit management?

The main activities of a credit management service are as follows:

Depending on the organization, related activities may also be under the responsibility of the credit manager: customer accounting, billing, management of bank guarantees ... etc.

These missions involve relationships with different functions of the company (sales managers, controlling, customers care, logistics, accounting ...) and also with customers.

The fluidity of customer exchanges, the taking into account of their demands (litigation, recovery ...), the negotiation concerning the terms of payment are key elements of the commercial development and the quality of the commercial relation.

The main risk for companies is to consider credit management as an internal accounting process that can easily be streamlined to reduce the cost.

Quantitative productivity measures (blind reduction of xx% of the workforce) can have significant consequences for the business relationship and turnover, as well as for the quality of the aging balance and the losses that can result.
In a world where access to financial information (balance sheets, judgments ...) and credit risk security tools (credit insurance, factoring without recourse ...) has never been easier, where the means of communication, essential in debt recovery, are faster and more relevant (emails, SMS, interactive emails, information sharing tools ...), where business tools (software, web resources) have never been so accessible; qualitative productivity seems necessary and obvious for credit management.

What is a qualitative productivity?

This principle aims to increase productivity through improved skills and the use of new tools. It is possible because people will be more competent that they will be able to take advantage of the power of new technologies. In doing so, they will exponentially increase their efficiency and the credibility of their business with their customers.

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It is therefore a question of working more on the numerator (the value of the work produced) than on the denominator (downsizing of the workforce) to increase productivity..

It is particularly surprising to note the benefits for the company of such a strategy: significant improvement in cash flow, reduction of provisions and losses, reduction of litigation, contribution to the growth of turnover, better communication between services ...

Potential gains from value creation far outweigh those achieved by downsizing the credit management / collection / receivable accounting teams.

Such productivity "from the top" helps to energize and motivate individuals and is a positive step towards improving processes and enhancing employees.

It is undeniably this productivity that can be successfully applied to these special professions such as credit management and cash collection.

Some will try to do both: reducing the number of people while improving tools and practices. It is a challenge as the new tools may be rejected by employees because they would be considered as responsible of this situation.

How to implement it ?

This type of positive productivity is generally simple to implement in companies as the difference between the methods and the tools used and the existing tools is considerable.

Most of the credit teams and debt recovery actors work with the accounting tool and export data to Excel.

Credit management is a lot of communication with customers (negotiation, collection ...), with sales representatives, with the customer care (dispute management ...) ... etc.

In the age of Iphone X, web 2.0 (soon 3.0), Fintech, use this type of static and archaic tools is extremely limiting and does not achieve optimum efficiency, far from it.

The first step is to put in place appropriate tools that can both streamline and accelerate internal communication (with other innternal departments) and external (customers, specialized service providers ...) and increase its quality.

The use of a suitable tool allows this communication and to involve all of these actors in the payment of bills, the ultimate goal of the sales process.

The second step is to train employees so that they can use the power of their tools and put their skills to work. If a good worker is nothing without a good tool, the opposite is even more true.

Conclusion

If productivity is needed in credit management, it must certainly be realized by exploiting a source of value often neglected in the company.

The stakes of this function are so high that the potential gains are exponential compared to a productivity based only on downsizing that will not earn much (maybe which will lead to losses) and which by its nature ignores the considerable gains of a positive productivity.






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