Why you Need Automation to Advance Your AR Career

Shaun Jex | Tuesday, Feb 14th 2023
Employee Development

Last year, leading employee research firm, Gallup, released a study that found 60% of workers described themselves as being disengaged from their job, with a shocking 19% describing their situation as miserable. The result is more than academic, with disengaged workers leading to a staggering US$7.8 trillion in lost productivity. That’s equivalent to 11% of the global gross domestic product (GDP). 

A known reason for this is a lack of career growth opportunities which leads talent to feel stifled and unfulfilled. This can be compounded when a team member’s day is filled with repetitive, low-value tasks that keep them from contributing in meaningful ways to the company’s goals. 

“When surveyed, 48% of employees reported that their employers underestimate their skills, which are not exploited in their work, and therefore feel undervalued within their company.” - Jobgether 

So, the question for finance leaders becomes, what can we do to ensure that our staff perform meaningful work while acquiring skills for advancement? Surprisingly, automation software may hold the answer. 

Your AR Talent is Wasting Time 

And it isn’t their fault. If your organization still relies on manual processes for accounts receivable, it’s just the nature of the job.  

A recent survey found that accounting teams often spend as much as a quarter of their week on data entry. That’s roughly ten hours, or over an entire workday, devoted entirely to inputting information.  

“Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of workers say they would use…time saved through automation to do work that is more valuable to their organizations, and 78 percent would focus on the more interesting and rewarding aspects of their jobs.” - SmartSheet 

Adopting an AR automation solution that integrates with your tech stack — including tools like your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software — eliminates the need for manual data entry by automatically inputting information from one system to another. Not only does this save time on the front end, it also eliminates time wasted on corrections by preventing typos and other human errors. 

Of course, data entry isn’t the only activity draining your AR talents’ time. There’s also the matter of composing communications and following up on payments.  

It takes 67% more time to follow up on payments in a manual process than an automated one. 

Using automation software, companies can create customized communication cadences for every step of the collection process. The customer’s preferred method of contact is input, and a regular schedule can be created, in addition to variables such as escalations. Not only does this reduce the amount of time that reps must spend managing the process. It also adds consistency and personalization for the account in question, leading to a better customer experience.  

Time to Work Smarter 

Attempting to manage your AR through a manual process also creates an issue when it comes to how your accounts receivable talent prioritize their time. The fact of the matter is that not all invoices and accounts are created equally. Some require more attention, contact, and nurturing. But how do you determine which? 

Without automation, you’re likely jumping between systems, digging through spreadsheets, and trying to collate data to come up with a plan. Automation software handles the process for you, gathering data from your entire tech stack and presenting it in a single location. Information like payment and credit history, outstanding balances, and more are presented in easy-to-understand graphs and charts. In addition, AI and machine learning power the software automatically assessing each account and giving it a letter grade that suggests how likely the account is to pay late, and even when a specific invoice is likely to be paid.  

Using this information, members of the AR team can prioritize their actions to determine which accounts are likely to pay late, which invoices are most likely to impact cash flow, as well as which accounts may require more handholding throughout the process.  

 The end results of all this are accounts that pay faster, better days sales outstanding (DSO), and improved cash flow. It also transforms the AR position from a simple, function-based job to a strategic partner in the company’s overall financial goals. 

Moving On Up   

In addition to providing your AR team with higher value work, which drives employee engagement, the ability to work more efficiently and strategically also provides greater opportunity for employee development.  

46% of employees around the world say they are more likely to leave their employer if they do not have a commitment to upskilling and reskilling. 

An even more telling statistic was found by Clear Company who discovered that 74% of employees indicate that a lack of professional development is keeping them from reaching their full potential.  

Automation helps this effort on multiple fronts. The most obvious is time. It takes time to engage in training and development, from online learning courses to activities like shadowing. If team members are weighed down with mundane tasks, that resource is simply not available.  

AR software such as Quadient AR allows team members to work more collaboratively with other departments. With immediate access to real-time account information, they can provide information to departments such as sales about what accounts pose credit risks or where and when sales representatives can afford to be more aggressive.  

By shifting daily tasks from functional to collaborative and strategic, members of the AR team become more aware of and connected to the broader financial goals of the company, increasing their stake in its success and allowing them to make tangible contributions. This helps develop skills necessary for advancement and provides the employee with greater visibility among leadership. 

This combination of added time and increased empowerment within the accounts receivable position places employees in a position to accelerate their career advancement. That, in turn, has been shown to correlate to increased productivity among workers and even increased revenue.  

To learn more about how automation helps elevate AR performance, check out our Become a Revenue Hero: Credit 2 Cash eBook