Automation in Finance: Accounts Receivable Follow-Up

Accounts receivable (AR) is an essential part of how your business manages revenue – it’s responsible for maintaining your cash flow.

The accounts receivable process includes two important financial steps: Tracking outstanding invoices and finalizing payment to ensure the business is financially stable.

To keep your cash flow consistent and your clients paying on time, you need a robust accounts receivable process. If invoices aren’t sent consistently, or errors are made, this can affect the perception of your business and your profits. Establishing a structured AR process requires a thorough examination of every area of your payment cycle. Automation can develop this structure in many ways, notifying employees when payment is received and when unpaid accounts need following up.

Automation will keep your accounts receivable process ticking over, freeing up more time for the end-user. Let’s explore the areas of the accounts receivable process that can be automated.

Credit practices

Strict credit practices keep your team on the same page, i.e. under what conditions will your business offer credit? What are your repayment terms? How do you deal with (and ideally avoid altogether) uncollected bills and late payments?

Creating a process for proper credit practices is just the first step – once they’re in place, you’ll need to ensure that best practice is always followed. This is easier said than done because the administrative work associated with AR is repetitive and vulnerable to human error. From verifying credit data to logging transactions, the following credit processes can benefit from automation.

  • Invoicing – If your invoices aren’t clear, or they’re delivered late, this will affect the speed at which you are repaid by a client. To combat this, document generation can help you automate workflows to issue pre-approved invoice templates pre-populated with client information.
  • Approval processes – In order for invoices to be approved, accounts receivable managers will need to approve the repayment terms. This can delay an invoice being sent if signatures are being chased for physical documents. Smart workflows that utilize digital signatures can speed up the approval process.
  • Compliance – Good records management is essential for accounts receivable. In order to meet the requirements of regular audits, documents of record must be organized properly in preparation. To simplify record keeping, workflows can automatically archive invoices in each step of the process.

Collection plan

To maximize the chances that a client will pay on time, an AR team will usually arrange a schedule that works with the client’s cash flow. This might include discounts for early payments or billing on specific dates. A clearly outlined process is needed:

  • Client management – Different clients will need different things, which must be tracked and managed manually by AR staff. Individual automated processes can be set up for different clients, so your AR team can invoice at the most convenient time for the client. This will allow you to provide a more reliable and tailored service, improving your business relationships. 
  • Payment reminders – Sending regular payment reminders is essential for receiving payment. Integrating enterprise resource platforms (ERP) into your workflows allows you to schedule payment reminders. A number of business apps can be integrated into your workflow, connecting your existing systems of record to new and improved, streamlined processes.
  • Payment methods – One of the things that can put clients off paying your business is a lengthy or difficult payment system. Thankfully, intelligent forms allow your business to build a self-service portal that can help clients pay quicker and easier.
  • Delinquent accounts – Communication is a necessity in the accounts receivable process. You can reduce the number of administrative tasks for AR staff by creating an automated workflow which can track invoices, send late payment reminders, and alert AR staff to escalate if necessary.

Why should you adopt process automation?

Simply put, process automation can improve the quality of your accounts receivable process to support your AR team. Here’s an example:

Kim is an accounts receivable clerk. One of her duties is to reconcile weekly payments, which she does by examining incoming and outgoing payments. She does this manually, collecting relevant invoices and receipts, and then compiling a report.

After she’s done, she notices that a payment from a client is overdue. The client has been invoiced, and their payment is now 10 days late. No one has followed up with the client, so they haven’t been contacted, disrupting the business’ cash flow and making Kim’s department seem badly organized.

This situation could have been avoided by integrating the ERP software Kim uses into the accounts receivable process. Intelligent workflows can be created to manage overdue payments, ensuring clients are contacted in a timely manner. Not only will this encourage Kim’s clients to pay the business in a timelier manner, but Kim also no longer needs to worry about collecting relevant receipts and documents manually. This gives her more time for cash flow forecasting, which is simplified as invoices are automatically archived.

Now that Kim’s business has been able to build a workflow portal for clients to pay invoices online, their business is paid back more reliably, Kim’s job is made easier, and her entire department benefits.

Integrate Nintex into your accounts receivable process

By automating your workflows with Nintex, you can help your AR team become more effective. Bringing together your existing business apps and creating intelligent workflows enables your accounts receivable processes to be more efficient and more productive.

By adopting Nintex, you’ll be able to:

  • Create workflows that maximize your cash flow and enable you to forecast reliably
  • Stay compliant and be prepared for audits
  • Develop better business relationships and make your brand trustworthy
  • Collect client payments quickly and increase profits

 

Find out more about how to integrate Nintex with your AR processes by getting in contact with us today.

 

Ben McFadden

Ben McFadden has been Director of Finance at Nintex since January 2018 and is based in our Bellevue, WA, office. He has also been a CFA charterholder since 2012. At work he enjoys automating the mundane so his team can focus on more strategic finance initiatives. When not at work, he enjoys hiking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and traveling the world.