Reducing Staff Required for Cash Application by 80%

phs Group is the leading hygiene services provider in the UK, Spain, and Ireland. With over 120,000 customers in over 300,000 locations, supporting everything from restaurants and offices to hospitals and schools, phs Group meets the needs of up to 100 million people.

The Challenge

For phs Group, a manual cash application process required the work of upwards of 20 people and often took days to finish. The outdated process also hampered visibility, making it difficult to credit control customers and chase debt in a timely manner.

“We were printing remittances and sorting them into piles on people’s desks based on value. We allocated payments manually via our CRM by distributing cash allocation batches to individuals, and they would sift through the remittance pile for the corresponding payment value,” says Craig Rush, IT Business Partner at phs Group. “It was an unsustainable, costly, and inefficient use of our resources.”

Why BlackLine

Initially, leadership opted to engage a check imaging and software service. But while the service sped up processing, Rush knew the team had just scratched the surface.

“It opened our eyes to the art of the possible, and we wanted to do more,” says Rush. “We went back to the market and discovered BlackLine Cash Application. BlackLine was already a market-leading product being used by companies within our industry.”

Despite praise for BlackLine from other services companies, leadership needed proof. With assistance from BlackLine, Rush and his team loaded a real-life bank statement into a BlackLine test environment. Over the course of several weeks, they tested the solution, creating increasingly challenging scenarios. “BlackLine Cash Application quickly doubled our existing service’s auto-allocation rates. We realized that implementing BlackLine wasn’t a gamble at all. Instead, it became very clear that it would be foolish not to do it.”

Rush noted that BlackLine supported phs Group through the analysis, design, build, test, and deploy phases, with little disruption to day-to-day work.

“The project was one of the most successful implementations and deliveries I’ve experienced. It not only met all our expectations, but we started to hit key milestones much sooner than anticipated.”

The Results

Reduced staff working on cash application by 80%. Previously, applying cash involved the entire AR team working most of the day. With BlackLine Cash Application, cash is posted before 9 am, and 70% of the bank statement auto applies.

“BlackLine allowed us to take a giant leap forward in our cash allocation and processing. Not only do we have fewer staff working on cash application, but we’re processing ever-increasing cash volumes quicker and more accurately than before,” says Rush.

Adds Nicola Johnson, head of credit at phs Group, “Over the past few years, our customer base has increased substantially, as has account complexity. I think that if we hadn’t implemented BlackLine, we would have had to double our existing staff just to keep up.”

Reduced time spent chasing debt while improving the customer experience. Automating cash application has made a “huge difference” to another key activity: chasing debt.

“Since most cash is allocated before 9 am, credit controllers aren’t wasting time calling the wrong people,” says Rush. “That alone is creating a better customer experience.”

Freed staff to focus on complex, more strategic tasks. Rush notes that faster, more accurate application enables the team to engage in deeper work.

“Now that automation allocates 70%+ of our payments, we can focus on the payments that need additional follow-up or investigation,” says Rush. “With BlackLine, we can prioritize quality, instead of trying to keep up with quantity.”

phs Group has since expanded their use of BlackLine Cash Application.

“The bank statement processing has been so successful that we moved our check processing to BlackLine. We’re also planning to implement Cash Application in Ireland. We’re excited to apply the same standards and rigor to cash processing and allocation there, as well.”

Enabled scalability to accommodate high growth. BlackLine’s scalability ensures the AR team can keep pace as volumes increase.

“With BlackLine, we have not only streamlined our cash management processes, but have also positioned ourselves for sustained growth and success in an increasingly dynamic business environment,” says Rush.

“I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the dedicated BlackLine team that worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition, as well as to our staff and stakeholders for their unwavering support. This achievement marked a significant milestone in our journey towards operational excellence and financial resilience.”

Industry

Consumer Services

ERP

Wildebeest

Region

Global

Company Size

Midsize

Business Impact

Reduced labor costs

Integrated and automated internal controls

Enforced standardized processes

Gained access to improved monitoring and tracking

Improved balance sheet and risk management.


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