Coaching a SE Business Improvement Academy delegate to deliver a continuous improvement project17th of August, 2020
A delegate to the Scottish Enterprise Business Improvement Academy was provided with coaching and support on their continuous improvement project. The objective was to streamline credit control systems and reduce non-value-add activity.
The delegate worked for a multinational law firm within their offices in Glasgow office opened in 2013 in response to client demand and to provide a hub for the firm with all support functions represented including IT, Financial Management, HR and Risk and Compliance.
The Credit Control Manager managed a team of 4 Credit Controllers responsible for ensuring efficient query resolution and timely payment of invoices on behalf of all Partners based in the UK, USA and Luxembourg. They manage international collections for five of the firms’ priority clients. The Credit Control team worked with various departments and offices across the firm to provide a streamlined service to clients and stakeholders.
More and more of the clients are moving to electronic billing (e-billing) each year. Each client will select an e-billing service provider and an e-billing portal that best suits their requirements. The e-billing team’s role is to navigate each of these portals and successfully upload invoices in line with client terms and agreements. Currently, electronic invoices are submitted to around 85 clients on more than 16 different portals. Approximately 25% of the firm’s global revenue (excluding Australia) relates to invoices submitted electronically. A significant number of bills are rejected during this process due to the strict client and system billing rules. This results in delayed payment of invoices which in turn impacts debtor days and cash flow.
- Currently unable to identify e-billing clients – this information is not recorded within 3E.
- No reports to track the number of invoices being processed by the e-billing team or to monitor rejection rates.
- There is a breakdown in communication between the various teams and offices involved in the e-billing process
- Invoices for e-billing clients are not being generated in line with client billing rules and matter terms resulting in the invoice being rejected
- Invoice rejections create rework and can affect client relationships
- Clients are slow at reviewing/ approving our invoices
The project team mapped out the process and displayed it visually within the office. This became a working document for data gathering and process understanding. They successfully identified “E-billing” clients and collated data which is now recorded within 3E. This has allowed the team to develop improved reporting.
With the help of the Financial Systems team, an invoice tracking report has been created to help measure the number of e-billing invoices being processed each year and the rejection rate. This will take some time to collate the data on rejections, however, looking simply at the number of e-billing invoices that were credited and reissued in 2017 and 2018 (presumably due to non-compliance to billing rules), the numbers are significant – almost 20% of bills reversed each year.
Further actions were identified and planned;
- Continue to gather data on e-billing clients
- Carry out analysis on rejection rates
- Establish best practice for dealing with e-billing invoices including ownership and timescales for rejections
- Continue to implement system improvements e.g. adding e-billing comments to 3E
- Communicate issues identified during the process with the various teams involved in the process and suggest improvements and how they might better support us during the process of e-billing.
The impact on the Company
As the project plans are implemented going forward, new practices will be introduced in line with the analysis. This will have significant opportunities to greatly improve efficiency across the e-billing, administration, secretarial and wider supply chain throughout the company. Within the credit control team, it is expected that they will benefit by 2 days per month across the team cumulating to 24 days per year with a value of £19,200.