BlackLine Blog

November 20, 2023

The Right AR Solution to Build & Retain Your Team

Intelligent Automation
4 Minute Read

Brian Morgan

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The Struggle to Hire & Retain Employees

Businesses are feeling the pain of the labor crisis every day. Unfilled jobs are the primary reason that 7 in 10 companies are falling behind in scheduled production. And the labor shortage is predicted to only get worse over time.

Businesses are pulling out all the stops to try to hold on to their talent, from offering better wages to improving benefits packages—but nothing seems to be working. According to a recent Gallup survey, employee engagement has reached its lowest level since 2015. In 2022, only 32% of employees surveyed were engaged in their work, 18% were actively disengaged, and the remaining 50% were neither engaged nor actively disengaged.

What can businesses do to stem the tide of employees leaving the workplace and attract the talent they need to keep operations moving along? One way is to automate processes. The positive impact isn’t necessarily reducing headcount—automation can accomplish something else that’s critically important: improve job satisfaction, employee engagement, and morale.

People stay in jobs where they feel successful and apply for positions that offer long-term growth and satisfaction. Therefore, improving processes so employees have the time and capacity to feel empowered, successful, and productive can positively impact job retention and recruitment.

Automating Accounts Receivable

This phenomenon is clearly felt in accounts receivable, in which many organizations have been slow to automate processes and instead depend on inefficient, manual methods, making the jobs of collectors and cash app team members harder, boring, repetitive, and unfulfilling. It’s difficult for AR team members to stay focused on strategic tasks when they’re chasing customer remittances, and the situation exacerbates as volumes of transactions increase.

If a job is tedious, burnout is a likely result, and employees will move on to jobs where they believe they’ll feel more productive and successful. Therefore, one answer to combatting the labor crisis in AR is to replace manual processes with automated ones.

Dwindling AR Capacity

Backfilling positions left vacant by AR team members is challenging and expensive. Meanwhile, those who leave take with them valuable knowledge that would have been useful to improve processes and prevent AR operations from falling further behind. Employees who stick around feel the burden that only adds to the day-to-day challenge of staying focused on meaningful, strategic tasks.

When cash is behind and businesses are trying to get control using outdated, manual processes, the job of every collector is negatively impacted. AR teams are caught in a downward spiral that feels impossible to climb out of. Without proper visibility, AR teams cannot get a big-picture view of the operation and balances. Customer relationships also suffer because collectors can’t identify the right time to make contact. Some even waste customers’ time requesting payments they didn’t need to because reporting took too long.

AR Automation Can Help with Cash Application

Contrary to organizations that continue using manual processes, those that automate their AR processes have a leg up on being able to hire and retain talent. To illustrate this point, one BlackLine customer told us they include in their job descriptions that open positions don’t involve manual processing and that automated systems take care of the bulk of the work.

Fortunately, BlackLine’s Cash Application solution can solve these issues. It offers payment matching that leverages automation to efficiently process payments to invoice level and eliminate manual processes by up to 85%. In fact, it’s so powerful that productivity improvements are realized even when a business optimizes just one side of its AR operations.

BlackLine Cash Application revolutionizes the invoice-to-cash cycle by significantly reducing the time needed to apply payments. When a customer payment is received, the solution utilizes AI to apply it swiftly and accurately to customer invoices before posting the data back to the ERP. There are numerous other benefits that organizations can get after adopting this solution:

  • Cash stays current. Customer payments are processed to invoice level in a timely and accurate way, which has a positive impact on customer relationships that in the past experienced credit limit issues or having accounts incorrectly put on stop; gained efficiencies that save collections teams time so they’re no longer chasing payments that were already made but hadn’t yet been processed.

  • Be proactive with credit limits. Collectors no longer work in fire-drill mode and, instead of being reactive, continually and automatically monitor credit limits.

  • Reduce blocked orders. By processing payments quicker, businesses can reduce or even completely avoid blocked orders.

  • Manage by exception. AR teams can focus only on payment issues and query resolution, while ensuring visibility into and gaining control of the process.

  • Practice intelligent remittance management. Users benefit from auto-application rules, as well as intelligent data capture and optical character recognition (OCR) technology, that help capture remittance data from a variety of sources so documents can be captured, used in the auto-application process, and stored for future audit use with minimal effort.

  • Hit the ground running. Pre-built payment application rules developed from years of working closely with our customers across hundreds of deployments and in a wide range of industries combined with our ability to seamlessly integrate with ERP systems enables Cash Application customers to achieve world-class auto-application rates and benchmark standards faster than the industry average.


Leveraging Technology to Help AR Teams

Today’s AR teams are doing their best with what they’ve got. They’re working as hard as they can, making do with their resources, even if it means putting in a significant number of overtime hours. The problem is it’s nearly impossible for businesses to hold on to those employees when they’re not giving them the proper tools to do their jobs well.

Credit and cash teams must change the way they perceive the role of technology. It’s no longer about reducing headcount but doing more with less, supporting employees so they work smarter, not harder, and collecting faster by being more strategic and efficient.

It’s a mindset that both employees and employers share. After all, it’s not only employers that don’t like workers hopping from job to job. Employees, too, would love nothing more than to partner with a company in which they can feel productive and successful over the long term – one that recognizes the value of implementing automated processes.

Visualize your ROI with BlackLine Cash Application and calculate your savings today!

About the Author


Brian Morgan