February 26, 2021

Building Resilience in Operational Credit

Building Resilience in Operational Credit Image | BlackLine Magazine

Back in the good old days—anytime up to January 2020—when businesses spoke about what we now know as resilience, it was called disaster recovery. But that was too negative, so it became business continuity.

Business continuity management used to be all about moving from one building to another to maintain operations, understanding how long the business could operate without various activities like billing, cash allocation, customer service, and planning around that timetable.

Most business continuity plans were thrown away in 2020, but the decisions made prior to January of last year have impacted how many organisations have coped since then.

When economies and businesses grow, organisations rarely consider the ‘what ifs.’ What they do think about is, how do we get more? How do we take advantage of the growth to get more revenue, sales, margin, and customers?

Decisions made on systems in times of growth are all about the acquisition of revenue, customers, and margin, and rarely about retaining and maintaining the back-office operations.

A New Era of Continuous Process Improvement

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is a saying in business that is now very pre-COVID. Continuous process improvement means exactly that: every time you improve a process, start again.

The new watchword is resilience, and its definition is very simple to understand: the ability to respond, absorb, and adapt to, as well as recover during and after a disruptive event. You could also add, bounce back better than you were before.

In short, if it ain’t broke you should consider fixing it anyway by working out the impact of a ‘what if?’ question. Most organisations have improvement programmes in place, but when completed, they put a tick in that box and move on to look at something else.

Processes that seem to work well are rarely examined, and the COVID-19 crisis has proved that many back offices are weighed down by resource-heavy, complex manual processes that failed when offices were shut.

It was surprising how many F&A teams still had to go into the office to collect account forms, cheques, and direct debit forms and pick up invoices, remittance advices, and disputes from the doormat of closed buildings.

Processes that ‘worked well’ collapsed, in no small part due to the decisions of management to prioritise investment in easy to justify systems that generate revenue—systems where the business case was clear.

If you have 75% direct debit penetration, how do you justify an automated system? The response becomes, “The old manual one works well. See? We have 75% penetration of DDs!”

But, as previously mentioned, there was no time for the ‘what if’ questions as many organisations cancelled DDs at the start of lockdown and the DD reinstatement paper mandate trail began. 

An Interactive Workshop for Senior Credit Professionals

This is where our BlackLine Resilience Workshop in March comes in. I have the pleasure of running this workshop for BlackLine clients, contacts, and senior credit professionals.

We will be looking at resilience from a number of different aspects:

  • How resilient are your people, systems, and processes?
  • How is your relationship with your stakeholders?
  • How do you keep your seat at the decision-making table?
  • Are your KPIs fit for purpose in this new way of remote working?

This interactive workshop uses the latest collaborative online tools and breakout rooms. You’ll have the opportunity to share your greatest challenges and priorities, and then gain the best practices and solutions you need to build resilience in your credit management and accounts receivable functions, for 2021 and beyond.

This is a huge subject, and you may not get everything answered during this workshop. But by networking and sharing ideas with your fellow credit professionals, you will get a better understanding of the questions you need to be asking.

Reservations are limited. Find out more information and secure your spot today.  

Register here

Chris Sanders

Modern Accounting