One size does not fit all

This statement is as true for credit management systems as it is for clothing, footwear or all manner of other things. In fact, I cannot think of a single time when a ‘one size fits all’ approach is beneficial.

All businesses are unique, having different needs when it comes to credit management solutions. After all, you wouldn’t buy a generic system that doesn’t have, say, an invoice generation facility that’s high on your list of needs, would you? Here at Credica, we pride ourselves on the levels of different solutions we deliver. Our software can be configured to suit your business – you don’t need to fit your business needs around our systems.

In fact, Credica systems are used by companies with turnovers ranging from £0.5 million up to £35 billion, proving its configurability and flexibility. And it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, either, because Credica’s credit management systems will support multiple users in different locations across differing time zones, as well as manage different currencies.

Other benefits of our systems include:

  • Easily adaptable to business changes, e.g. during slow or busy periods
  • Customisable to differing chasing strategies and workflows, such as small volume high invoice value, to large volume but small invoice values
  • Documentation is customisable by you, so that you can use your own business terms and language using industry standard tools
  • Equally, the data stored in your system is not locked down so that it’s easy for you to access and analyse using industry standard tools
  • Can easily be integrated with other source systems, such as the smallest ERP system like Sage 50, up to Enterprise level, or EAS, software like SAP
  • Provides configurable reporting
  • There are no limits to the number of chasing strategies, letters, throughput or data volumes, and no increase in costs if they increase
  • Having numerous reporting levels, choose from individual collector analysis to Board level completed business reporting

What problems are you experiencing in your existing credit management software? Talk to us to see how we can solve those problems and benefit your business with our flexible, highly configurable credit management systems.

To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.


CREDICA LISTEN TO CUSTOMERS

We Listen – Part 2

Listening is key. We’ve learnt over the years that really listening to our clients is crucial to our success in attracting new customers, as well as achieving over 95% year on year customer loyalty. Backed up by two annual ‘Healthcheck’ visits to make sure that we’re on track with what you need, this all combines to help you increase your ROI…and us improve our software.

After all, we have two ears but only one mouth! So shouldn’t that mean that we listen twice as well as we talk? But in all seriousness, we know that our communications are far more successful when we listen to our customers rather than broadcast to them. And because we’re good listeners, we learn about your business, find out what you need, to configure and mould our Credit Management system around your exact requirements.

In fact, when we get a new enquiry we don’t ask the usual, “What’s your budget?” or “How many Licences do you need?”. The main questions we ask will help both you and us to understand what is needed. Questions like, “What problems do you have to solve with a new Credit Management system?”, “What’s wrong with your current way of working?” and “In what way should a new system improve your way of working?” This approach is far more effective, helping us to help you achieve your goals.

When customers don’t want to leave

One of our clients has been pushed into a tricky situation. We’ve listened to them and are providing exemplary support when they need it, but it is not enough. Let us explain…

Saying goodbye can be so bitter/sweet. But we’ve just had to do exactly that with this client for the simple reason that they’re a subsidiary of a larger organisation. It seems that the umbrella company has made the decision that the whole organisation has to use the system that their head office and other subsidiaries currently use.

On commiserating with them in an email, the response we received was glowing:

“We value your proposal, it shows again that Credica is a company that is 100% focused on their customers, giving excellent customer service and is creating good relationships with them. Unfortunately, the decision to replace Credica has been taken on a very high level … therefore we are not able to stop this change nor to change the minds of the people that made the decision.

“To get things clear: we don’t have any complaints about you, the team, the tool or the company. It is actually the opposite: the tool works perfectly and as far as customer service goes I believe that Credica is one of the best companies we work with today … even during the first day of your visit … I could tell that Credica is able to find ways to give the best possible customer service in order to make a very competent system available for our collections.”

To ensure that all their data was retrieved and transferred safely to their new system, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to make the transition as smooth as possible for them. Also hoping that perhaps one day they will miss Credica and our personal, friendly service, and attention to the minutest of detail.

Want to talk?

Whatever you want to talk about, whether it’s help solving a problem or a query about our tools, whatever it is, please feel free to contact us whenever you like. We have a dedicated email address for you to write us knowing that it will be read and responded to as quickly as possible. It’s listen@credica.co.uk – naturally! Or give us a ring. We’re ready to listen.


To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.


Credica - SYSTEMS ARE MORE COST EFFECTIVE THAN STAFF

How systems are more cost effective than staff

Don’t get us wrong. We know that staff are hugely important and highly valued additions to any organisation. But there are times when staff can be far costlier than a credit system; for instance, during times of sick leave or holidays. Or when an error is made, which could be both expensive and time consuming to correct.

Credit management systems are slick and efficient. Even as your sales ledger rapidly grows, a management system will keep up easily. Whereas a team of people may not. In fact, you could even reduce your headcount with an effective system, making huge future savings. Or not worry about employing additional staff as your business grows.

Being a single, central point for all essential customer information, a Credit Management system can easily replace several team members during times of absence … or even permanently! Other benefits of having a centralised Credit Management system include:

  • Automated diarised actions, such as regular statements, are sent out promptly and regularly, even when staff are away
  • Centralised information, which includes communications, means that other team members can pick up an activity when a customer calls with a query, ensuring that your customers are dealt with efficiently and are left feeling highly satisfied when the individual responsible is away
  • Avoids the need to manually reconcile information to send out to a customer, such as copy invoices and letters, or sending statements, reducing the chances of human error
  • A centralised system negates individual team members having separate ledgers, thus avoiding the need to manually compile the information together at certain times of the year, such as Year End or for Quarterly Account meetings
  • Human error is significantly reduced when the system has been programmed with automated actions, such as diarised calls and letter production
  • Management has secure and consistent access to information, meaning they don’t have to rely on an individual to update them
  • Management can even check on chasing history and generate their own reporting, negating the need to ask someone else to do that for them

It’s hard to see why anyone would choose to keep manual systems and continue using spreadsheets that are easily corrupted when a centralised management credit system provides so many benefits! We’re sure you’ll agree. But if you have any queries, we’re here to help you.

Let Credica help you create as risk free and cost efficient Finance Team as possible!


 To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.  Or alternatively, e-mail us at listen@credica.co.uk 


CREDICA LISTEN TO CUSTOMERS

We listen and learn from your feedback…

As well as developing some of the best credit management systems available, we’re also pretty awesome at developing close relationships with all of our customers.

Being on first name terms with the majority of our users is very important to us, not only because we enjoy learning about you and your businesses, but also because we want to know how you get on with using our software systems on a daily basis.

Bigger, better products from your suggestions

You may be surprised to know that all the feedback and suggestions we glean from you – whether you’re an existing or potential customer – contributes to around 50% of the product evolution.  Furthermore, 80% of the owners of Credica are directly involved in product development; giving us a very deep understanding of our user base and the requirements in the marketplace.

Receiving feedback is essential to us; this feedback ensures that our systems are constantly being enhanced to match your needs, and that our service becomes second to none. We receive feedback from people of all levels, from Credit Controllers to Treasury Managers and Finance Directors, and it’s all highly valued.

In fact, one of the reasons why our service includes a twice yearly health check visit is for precisely this purpose – to listen and learn from you.

Never assume

We all know that assuming your products are perfect and just what your customers want is a big mistake made by too many companies. This is why your feedback is so valuable to us – it ensures that we’re making our products relevant for the requirements of today and, more importantly, tomorrow.

A win/win situation!

We like putting smiles on people’s faces. So it’s very rewarding for us to see your faces light up when we demonstrate a new feature that was developed from listening to your feedback. Plus, of course, the crucial benefit of you getting what you needed, too! What’s not to love about that?

This just proves that it’s so important to listen to others … not only to your significant others, your children, your spouses, but also to your customers. We’re sure you’ll agree!


 To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.  Or alternatively, e-mail us at listen@credica.co.uk 


New In 2016

Credica Credit Management software - new in 2016Credica are raising the bar for Credit Management software this year.

Three new additions to enhance communication, usability, and the information available at your fingertips to enable you to make decisions based on fact, not just your instinct.

  • PINPOINT – intuitive reporting for humans
  • UNITY – involve your entire organisation in your financial processes
  • RISK MANAGEMENT INTEGRATION – integrated, invaluable, dependable information

To find out more contact Howard Wilsher, our Product Director, on 01235 856400 or howardw@credica.co.uk.


Enhancing your Sage 1000 system – not just for SME’s

Are Sage financial management systems predominantly used by smaller companies? You may be surprised to hear that no, they are not. Working with over 23,000 of the UK’s largest, most successful business, Sage delivers a wide range of ERP, CRM, HR and Payroll solutions, as well as specialist applications for the construction industry.

Often the first finance management software system that SME owners think of, Sage is certainly a popular choice. We agree that it offers a wide range of facilities and, consequently, is an excellent solution. After all, it includes a purpose built range of integrated modules that can span your entire enterprise – ideal if your business has multiple companies or sites.

But does it offer sufficient customer support?

We think not. Credica feels that its only weakness is that Sage 1000 lacks sufficient support on its Credit and Query Management facilities that medium and larger businesses, with their high volumes of invoicing, need. So naturally, wanting our customers to be satisfied, we have come up with a solution.

Credica steers Sage down Easy Street!

Credica has designed enterprise software solutions that plug directly into your Sage 1000 system, providing direct integration and fast enablement of:

  • Automated processes such as diarised call lists
  • Dunning letter generation
  • Improved Credit Control
  • Improved Query Management options

No need to pay out for the more recognised accounts packages that many larger companies usually demand, such as SAP or Oracle. Simply upgrade your Sage 1000 package with Credica plugin solutions. Which means that, combined with our easily affordable monthly payment terms, you have large company benefits at small company costs!


To find out more about Sage 1000, click here. Or call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.

 


Supporting the carers – Rennie Grove Hospice Care

RennieGroveLogoWhen someone close to you is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness such as cancer, it can be devastating, impacting on everyone’s lives.  With the support of Rennie Grove Hospice Care, some of the strain in their lives was eased s
imply through talking to people who understood and could help. Not just the individual who was ill, but the carers, too.

A member of the Credica team has a close and personal connection with the spirit of this charity, in turn, Credica offer support to the charity by becoming a Corporate Patron in 2015.

Support and understanding go a long way towards helping people feel more at ease and less anxious about their illness, which in turn helps the individual to recover faster if the illness isn’t terminal. Rennie Grove, a charity organisation, provides a wealth of support, information and services completely free of charge to the patient and their families. But they need an awful lot of financial support themselves in order to do the wonderful work they do. And Credica are proud to be Corporate Patrons of them, supporting them after they supported one of ours.

Covering the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire areas, and located in Grove House, next to St Albans City Hospital, Rennie Grove provides 24/7 Hospice at Home service, Family Support services and a range of Day Services both in the communities and from their premises in Grove House. Relying on donations to fund around 85% of their annual £6.7 million running costs, some of the statistics they gave us are quite astounding:

  • Rennie Grove cares for over 3,000 patients and families each year
  • In 2014-15, they cared for 9% more patients than the previous year
  • 69% of their Hospice at Home patients are able to die with dignity at home, with their families around them, compared with around 22% nationally
  • Their nurses carried out a total of 21,320 face-to-face hospice at home visits at all times of the day and night during 2014-15
  • At Grove House, they saw a massive 40% increase in patients visiting their Nurse Clinic last year, giving more patients in Hertfordshire access to a specialist nurse assessment, with care and advice tailored to the individual patient’s needs
  • 30% of the Day Hospice patients had a non-cancer diagnosis, showing that hospice care is also available for patients with other life-limiting illnesses
  • Rennie Grove collaborates with other healthcare providers to give patients access to additional services and support
  • Their 1,500 volunteers carry out essential roles throughout the organisation, from supporting patients to helping in their shops, saving in the region of £1.5 million every year

Raising funds

If your business would like to support a charity, or you have some free time to get involved in some fundraising activities, we would encourage you to approach Rennie Grove Hospice Care to see how you can support them. Become a Corporate Patron, as we did. Arrange a cake sale, or a British Bake Off type competition. Or get physical with a walking or running challenge. Take a peek at their Sponsored Challenges page to get some ideas of how you can help, and enjoy the knock-on benefit of getting fit yourself, too! That way, everyone wins.

We hope that you never need to use their services. But if the worst does happen, and you or your loved one lives in the catchment area of Herts and Bucks, then we highly recommend contacting Rennie Grove Hospice Care.


Credica - credit management

The problem with business acquisition … and the simple solution!

Business growth is something most of us work hard to achieve, with business owners or leaders encouraging and motivating their staff to also work towards. But sometimes, especially during times of rapid growth, problems can arise. Usually around business systems, and particularly when businesses grow by acquisition.

Once all the legalities are done and dusted – due diligence, auditing funds, employment, pensions, litigation, intellectual property rights, and so on and on – then the fun really begins.

On moving date, depending on the sizes of the businesses, generally the smaller one moves into the offices of the larger business. Or they find brand new premises, either buying new furnishings or, more usually, combining the best of their existing furniture and equipment. A bit like a new couple when they first move in together, picking out their cherished items that they just have to keep. Offices are carefully planned out, desks are positioned correctly, cupboards in place, computers installed, and filing cabinets uniformly lined up. Thankfully, with electronic and cloud storage solutions, far fewer of the latter are seen cluttering up the place these days, even if they are useful for putting pot plants on. And coffee mugs.

The problems of separate systems

It’s the systems that can cause the main issues. Each separate business most likely already had its own ERP and CRM systems holding essential customer information, including their debts. It’s often felt that continuing to run two separate systems would be best. But there are multiple problems with this, as Penny Pincher and Owen Lotts discovered recently when their companies merged:

  • The same customers were being sold to by different parts of the company, creating inconsistent customer information stored in multiple systems. For instance, Penny found multiple addresses for some of their customers, who in turn were irritated when they received too many communications
  • Users end up having to log into multiple systems to get information, or copy invoices
  • Extra costs for lots of different licences for different systems
  • There are often differing payment terms, or age debt reporting structures
  • No integration between systems, with order balances and credit stops in separate places, as well as collection notes and activity. This creates an inaccurate picture of the current activity and has an impact on reporting, as Owen discovered to his cost, wasting a lot of time trying to consolidate the information manually
  • KPI reporting has no consistency, such as query reasons or cash promises

Solving these problems

One centralised system is really the best and only solution. This may seem like unnecessary expense at the beginning of an acquisition period, when funds are possibly stretched, but it will pay dividends in the long term. Firstly, just one system will save a lot of time and headaches for the users. And secondly, it will ensure your customers are not bombarded with communications from different parts of the organisation. Which, in turn, will help customer retention and further growth.

Credica can consolidate your debt into a centralised system, with consistent reporting and complete visibility of risks across the group. Other benefits include:

  • Group treasury departments can then use Credica for cashflow reporting and Risk exposure
  • All relevant information is in one place, enabling your Collectors to chase debt quickly and efficiently
  • Learning/training time and licence costs are reduced
  • Real time access to collection activity, meaning you can also see colleagues’ activity and what the latest status is for each customer
  • Standardisation of payment terms and age debt reporting
  • Fast production of copy invoices; for instance, 50 copies in just one click instead of five from one system, ten from another, and so on
  • Credit stops can be maintained centrally and pushed back to separate systems
  • Access to real-time debt performance information across the organisation via the Dashboard

Penny and Owen are now much more confident in their new roles working together, especially in the knowledge that the company has saved money and time, and their credit control is both robust and safe. Thanks to Credica, their future together looks bright.


To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.


Questions on CRedit Management Software

Do you know what to ask when buying a new Credit Management system?

Purchasing a new Credit Management system can seem a bit daunting. There is a lot to consider, and if you get it wrong it will be an expensive mistake. So we thought we’d give you a few tips on how to find the perfect system for your business.

We all know that it’s important to research – that’s obvious. And if the item we’re buying is relatively standard, like a television, we usually know what questions to ask … or Google will tell us. For instance, most of us know to query the difference between LED or OLED, or whether to opt for a 4K or HD TV. But when it comes to powerful and sophisticated Credit Management systems, we don’t always know what to ask about.

So, here are the most important questions:

  1. Will the new system integrate smoothly with our existing systems? This is probably the most important question.
  1. Is it simple and intuitive for our staff to easily and quickly learn? You don’t want your Credit Control team spending months learning a new system. It’s also worth finding out if training is already included in any costs.
  1. Can we make changes ourselves without incurring further costs? You should be able to make simple changes without having to call your Credit Management system provider and being charged for the privilege of them doing it for you.
  1. How easy is it to produce documents such as Copy invoices and Statements? A crucial piece of functionality whose value cannot be under-estimated.
  1. Can we easily measure the ROI? A good provider should be able to explain how to demonstrate this, and will certainly have testimonials and facts to back it up.
  1. And finally, Reporting:
    1. How easy is it to get the information I want out of the system? For instance, to show KPI’s to Management?
    2. Is this function going to cost me extra?
    3. Can it be in a format that I can share with other people to use, for instance Excel?
    4. Will it give me enough information for me to be able to cure problems within my business, to prevent further issues of the same nature?

We hope that these questions will help you to find the ideal Credit Management system that suits your business…and of course, if you’d like to ask about the Credica suite of products, please do so.


To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.


Credica - automation of systems and processes

How automated is your business?

Automation, as we’re sure you know, is a means to do a chore quickly and easily using some form of software with minimal human expenditure. Thus saving your business a lot of processing time. However well you think your business is automated, there are probably many processes that could still easily be automated, providing unmeasurable but tangible real benefits.

We all know that the main benefit of automating tasks is to save time and money. But when you consider the time and cost it takes to correct any human error consequences, automation seems like a particularly good idea. Essential, even.

Computers are rarely utilised to 100% of their capabilities. So using that spare resource to automate your more laborious tasks is a no-brainer, providing huge savings in costs and resources over the long term. Bearing in mind that a computer is only as good as the people who programme them, it’s best to ensure that our automated programmes are carried out by experts in their field.

Benefits of automated systems

  • Whatever your business size, automation saves time and money
  • Expensive human error costs virtually eliminated
  • Provide staff with more time to utilise their skills more productively
  • Benefits your customers

Automation not only benefits your business, but it can benefit your customers, too. For instance, here in Credica, if a customer asks for copy invoices for all of their unpaid transactions, it takes just one click to automatically e-mail them within seconds.

It’s worth remembering that some automatic systems can put customers off. For instance, those interminable automated telephone systems, which can go on and on. Nobody likes them! But the benefits of automation outweigh the negatives by far.

Automated systems take the tedious out of your day, leaving you with far more time for the more important tasks. Automated systems enable your company to flourish and prosper.


 To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.

 


Five tips for managing fluctuating workloads

Overwork, more time wanted, business concept. Notice. Thirteen h

Are you sure that your organisation has the knowledge and systems in place to cope in times of high demand? Here are some suggestions on ways to combat those times of fluctuating workloads.

Most businesses regularly experience times of high demand as well as slower periods. These inevitable peaks and troughs need to be carefully managed to minimise any negative impacts they could have. For this reason, flexibility and foresight are important attributes for a manager to have, combined with robust systems and processes.

The savvy manager will quickly learn to recognise emerging patterns throughout the year. Patterns that may be linked to internal processes, team dynamics, or simply customer demand. Factors that can affect the work/team balance, needing early recognition and action, may include:

  • Month end or year-end periods, allowing the team less time for the normal daily collection duties
  • Absence through holidays or sickness, creating added pressure to the remaining team members
  • Seasonal sales, promotions and busy invoicing periods also create a higher than normal demand on credit control
  • Summer is often a time of increased holiday absence, reducing your organisation’s resources whilst also increasing demand on credit control
  • Periodic Management reporting may also take you away from collections activity

Forewarned is forearmed

Planning ahead and being warned well in advance of any key business activities will certainly help during these times, as will having systems and software that can be adapted to your organisation’s needs. Here are a few ideas that may help your credit control during periods of high demand and low resource:

  1. Ensure that you are notified of any sales promotions and other business activities well in advance, so you can make decisions on staff holiday and staffing levels
  2. Have systems in place to identify the lowest hanging fruit to collect, such as a focus on chasing invoices either by date and highest value, or by ledger. Concentrate on the most easily collectable
  3. Drive work to a team based on their availability, which can easily be adjusted up or down during high or low demand periods
  4. Ensure your system allows you to easily re-allocate the work of existing users to other team members to cover sickness, holidays or to simply help them out if they are very busy. All chasing history should be in the system and not in the collector’s mind, so someone new can run with it immediately.
  5. Your system should have the ability to store data centrally and have a shared customer pool, so multiple people can dive in and help collect when they have finished their normal work

With these plans and systems in place, your Credit Control should run smoothly. Or, at the very least, as smoothly as any organisation’s finance department can. If you think your systems need updating or replacing, Credica will help you with that.


To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400. 


Are your Credit Controllers happy with your system?

One crucial element of running any business is knowing that your information is safe. We all know that feeling of waking in the night, wondering if our systems were thoroughly backed up. Fretting whether all our firewalls are intact, and praying that nothing is corrupted.

When cloud technology came along, many of us breathed a small sigh of relief. Our data is safe — or as safe as it can ever be. But when it comes to credit control, all is not necessarily that straightforward.

On-Premise versus Cloud systems

Cloud technology is fantastic, there’s no disputing that. But cloud based solutions are not the solution, they are simply the delivery mechanism of the solution. More consideration should be given to what matters to the end user — what they actually need to be most effective at their job. Often, the systems built to around cloud technology are developed in such a way as to not be as user friendly as they could be.

Having a robust and secure in-house system that has been developed for your business’s specific requirements is both safer, in terms of data storage, and will inevitably be far more user friendly.

The end result being efficient and productive Credit Controllers .

It’s simple really – with an On-Premise system, you:

  • retain full control of availability, reliability and security
  • can have a wider selection of features, improving the productivity of the users
  • have a far more user-friendly system, so your staff will feel more valued — cloud based solutions tend to focus more on helping IT
  • have faster operation speeds
  • enjoy cost savings, as long-term costs are generally lower for On-Premise than the cumulative recurring costs of a cloud solution

Additionally, it seems that On-Premise solutions are becoming more popular again. According to a Deloitte survey, IT executives’ preference for an On-Premise solution in their organisation year on year has gone up by 5.6% in 2015.

The bottom line is that you can outsource responsibility, but you cannot outsource accountability.

To find out more about how our systems can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400.


Credica - customer service

Proactive Credit Controllers + Good Customer Service = Satisfied Customers

When we use a service, we expect good Customer Service. After all, that’s what providing a service is all about — keeping customers happy. Helping them to get the best out of their experience. So whether you’re doing your weekly shop at your local supermarket, or you’ve taken your car to a dealership for its latest service, you expect to be treated with courtesy at the very least.

But if you get good service with a smile, doesn’t that help make you feel good? Better still, if you also get some useful advice that helps you to save time or money, or resolves a problem, that’s an added bonus which virtually guarantees that you’ll use that business or retailer again. Helping you to feel valued as a customer.

This good customer service principle is true for any kind of service, such as IT support. And even, believe it or not, Credit Control.

Giving that bit extra

Your company’s Credit Controllers can provide your customers with a friendly service that gives that bit extra. It’s not just about chasing payments — it’s about building strong customer relationships.

Making contact before the payment is due is both useful and courteous. Pro-active customer service is usually welcomed, allowing you to establish the right contact details and pre-empting any possible payment delay.

For instance, one of your Credit Controllers could be on the phone to a customer and, during the conversation, learn first hand of any issues or concerns. That gives your company an excellent opportunity to help them, simply by looking into the situation and resolving it in a manner that ensures customer satisfaction and, ultimately, customer loyalty.

People like to know they’re being heard and feel understood. So when your Credit Control team ring your clients, they can build on that relationship by asking questions, listening to them and understanding their point of view. Try to get to know their business, its processes and how it functions. And if you can learn how their customers, in turn, like to be treated, it will help you tailor your service to your individual clients, providing them with a truly excellent service.

To find our more how our system can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400


Replace your Excel based system

When does an Excel spreadsheet system need to be replaced?

Excel is very powerful financial software. Financial modelling, reporting and analysis are just some of Excel’s strengths. It’s also readily available on nearly everyone’s computer.

So it’s no surprise that Excel is often the first software to which people turn to develop a new financial application, in businesses large and small. That is expedient and can be effective. But if Excel is used as the primary database or data warehouse, there is often a better alternative to which it is worth changing.

This is because Excel has significant limitations:
•    Data storage is simplistic, so does not cater well for real-life situations where data is inter-related or in multiple dimensions
•    A spreadsheet cannot be updated by more than one person simultaneously, and security is simplistic, so is not suitable for many multi-user situations
•    There is nothing in-built for functions such as aggregation and multi-currency. Formulae need to be written, and it is easy to get these wrong or inconsistent.
•    It is also difficult to maintain links between spreadsheets, especially if some are being circulated for completion by other people.
•    So it is difficult to make a spreadsheet system robust, and keep it robust as it evolves.
•    Data entry is often done manually or semi-manually, and is not subject to validation. So data entry is slow and prone to error.
•    There is no audit trail
•    Spreadsheets can easily become corrupted and valuable data lost.

As a result, many people know of situations where material errors have arisen from using spreadsheets, and occasions where spreadsheet systems have held the business back. Ringing a bell with you?

There comes a time when a spreadsheet system that stores data needs to be replaced by a more suitable database system. Excel can be retained for reporting and analysis purposes.

BENEFITS OF REPLACEMENT SYSTEMS

Replacement systems use a database to store data centrally and provide a number of standard facilities that automate the system:
•    Data can be structured exactly as required
•    Systems can automatically and reliably aggregate and consolidate departments, regions, divisions and companies
•    Data entry facilities automate the load of data from source systems, which can then be done in more detail if required
•    Multi-user systems allow simultaneous use by people in the same department or different parts of the business, with differing levels of access permissions
•    Audit trails and other management controls are available
As a result, a replacement system can be far more reliable, quicker and more powerful than the spreadsheet system it replaces. Excel can still be used for reporting and analysis, so its strengths can be retained.

 

This article was originally written by Chris Challis of Camwells (http://camwells.co/) and approved by Chris, for use within Credica.


Is your customer relationship with your organisation, or with your Credit Controller?

We all know how important it is to have good customer relationships. This is true for every department of any organisation who has regular customer contact. But when it comes to Credit Control, a strong customer relationship is arguably more important here than in any other department. Because, naturally, you want your customers to pay promptly and manage their debts efficiently.

It’s surprising how many businesses allocate just one controller to liaise with their clients. This is understandable, as many customers want just one named individual to contact when they have a query. But what happens when that Credit Controller is on holiday, or sick, and you need to contact your customer? Do you wait for that controller to return, or can any member of the Credit Control team contact them? We hope the latter, but appreciate that sometimes this can be difficult if they don’t have the most recent information to hand.

Set out below are some tips on helping your Credit Control team to learn more about your customers’ credit histories and current situations, enabling the entire team to forge stronger relationships with your customers.

List splitting

Don’t just allocate the same customers to the same Credit Controllers. Rotate the customer list so that every controller gets to know virtually every customer. An automated assignment system would help with this, but if you don’t yet have one then consider these options:

Make sure every controller gets to deal with different sections of your aged debtors lists so that they get used to handling the more difficult customers as well as the easier ones

Create alphabetical customer lists to enable them to be split easily, ensuring that each Credit Controller gets a different part of the alphabet each week/month

Break your customer list into different sections so that no one Credit Controller deals with the same section too often

Central shared files

Make sure that all the information regarding every customer — such as contact names, numbers, and all correspondence — is in the same central file for all to access. It need be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet. This way, any Credit Controller can see what has been discussed in the past, who the best person to speak to is, and will be completely up to date with any issues when they need to get in touch.

Help with late payers

If you prefer to have customers deal with a single collector and you have a few customers that always seem to be late payers, task a different collector to speak to them for a change; this ‘different’ person could help to nudge your customer’s conscience and increase the opportunity of being paid. Another surprisingly beneficial suggestion is to ask a different gendered collector to speak to your customer. So if they’ve been dealing with a male collector, a female collector contacting them for a change may help, and vice-versa.

We hope that these suggestions will help, even though these processes aren’t that easy on a manual system. However, they can all be handled quickly and efficiently by a dedicated Credit Management system.

To find our more how our system can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400


How to relieve the strain of holiday absence from your Credit Control team

Summer is finally here. But it’s a mixed blessing when many of your Credit Control team are on leave, especially if leave dates overlap. We all know how necessary holidays are, and how challenging it can be to ensure efficient business continuity. So here are some tips to help Credit Control cope during times of increased absence. After all, business cannot stop because a few people are on the beach, sipping cocktails. Salaries still need to be paid, overheads must be covered.

Ideally, robust systems and processes need to be in place. We’ve noticed that some organisations struggle with managing absence in a way that benefits both the company and the individual. It’s equally important to keep staff morale and motivation up and to keep all the wheels in the cogs of ‘normal’ business running smoothly.

Leaving an employee’s workload for their return is definitely not the answer. Doing that is both a huge de-motivator for the individual and risks them moving on to more ‘understanding’ employers, creating an increase in staff turnover, which in turn can impact detrimentally on business. Meanwhile, you could be missing payments, losing money and may even lose customers’ confidence in your organisation’s ability to work efficiently. Whereas managing the employee’s workload whilst they’re on a well earned break means them returning to a clear desk scenario, and business running smoothly. Here’s how:

Re-allocate an employee’s workload for a day, a week or a specified period of time so that when a user is away, collections do not stop. If you don’t have the time to do this manually, having a good credit management system in place will do this quickly and efficiently

Share the employee’s workload across multiple collectors, to be dealt with when they have finished their own allocation. This way it’s a team effort, reducing the pressure of a lot of ex-tra work on just one or two individuals. Again, automated systems will help manage this quickly and easily

Credit management systems should allow you to view future calls for every member of your Credit Control team. This helps you to predict and understand the impact it will have if they need a day off at short notice

A good system will let you view all previous correspondence and activity on a particular customer, so when the controller is absent all the information is there. A colleague can then easily pick up where the absent employee left off, meaning no issues for your customer

Having robust automated systems in place gives you the flexibility to manage absence workloads effectively whilst maintaining your organisation’s revenue stream. Further benefits include helping to keep your employees feeling cared for and motivated; they are perfect for all absence types, such as maternity and paternity leave, as well as Christmas and summer holidays; and better still, they’re ideal for month end and year end, too.

To find our more how our system can benefit your business, call Credica now and talk to one of our Consultants – 01235 856400