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From Outsourcing to Partnership – The Four Key Ingredients for Successful Order to Cash Operations

In recent years, I’ve been part of numerous conversations about the future of Order to Cash (O2C) functions, particularly considering emerging and advanced technologies. Top companies have often turned to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) to help them transform how they do business and achieve their desired business outcomes of automating, streamlining and overall process improvement.

It may surprise you to hear me say this, but the traditional BPO model as we know it is dead. Today’s savvy customers are demanding an environment that is a collaborative partnership where services are provided that will achieve the outcomes of customer satisfaction, better metrics and improved cash flow. This is particularly true for the Finance & Accounting roles, and specifically for the Order to Cash roles. The new model comes in the form of Business Process Services (BPS) and is focused on four very important areas:

  1. Structure
  2. Process
  3. Technology
  4. People

The outcome, in focusing on these four things, is sustainable transformation of Order to Cash functions across the globe.

BPS supports the modern growth model
If you look at growth trends across a multi-industry landscape, you’ll see that much of today’s industry growth is fueled by mergers and acquisitions. In this environment, it’s clear that BPS partners for certain Order to Cash functions can be transformative from the start.

For example, in the case of merger or acquisition activity, many accounts receivable and accounts functions are ideal targets for shared services — and with the proper structure — can be streamlined to optimize people, processes and technology. This practice gives the businesses a holistic view into customer risk, customer management and daily cash collection activities.

Designing work processes and developing a structure that best suits the customers’ needs are essential to the successful BPS. Choosing a model that’s right for your business is essential — whether it’s on shore, offshore or near shore. The modern BPS is in an ideal position to guide the newly expanded organization to create a structure that:

  • Maintains audit compliance
  • Finds customer symmetries
  • Minimizes down time
  • Speeds up processing times
  • Provides a 360° view of accounts receivable and customers

Delivering outcome-based results for O2C
In the past, BPOs had a market perception that the provider was taking over the client’s operations, moving them offshore and often overlooking transformation altogether. Today’s BPS is about optimizing processes and streamlining through automation and best-in-class talent. Process inefficiencies are identified and where it makes sense, standardized. For instance, centralized billing to customers to optimize costs and resources. A current day BPS also has the benefit of best-in-class, industry-specific research, KPIs, and benchmarking to provide clients with quantifiable optimization benefits. BPS for Order to Cash is truly designed to deliver outcome-based results with a relatively quick and tangible return of investment (ROI).

By far the greatest contributor to the changing BPS landscape has been technology. Software that helps automate and standardize business processes offers companies alternatives to traditional outsourcing models. Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, analytics and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) allow companies the ability to reduce the cost of many back office processes.

These efficiencies allow teams to scale and grow at a more rapid and cost-effective pace. They also free up people for more thought provocative, analytical tasks. In recent years many of the traditional ERPs have enhanced their capabilities along these lines. We also see increased usage of third-party order to cash software to meet the technological needs of many of our customers. During our current global health crisis, technology is allowing companies such as Conduent to meet the daily needs of our customers. An extremely high percentage of workers have been able to seamlessly shift their jobs to a temporary work from home model. Technology allows us to collaborate via online meeting tools, and with advances in communication technology and internet access, remote FTEs have become an accepted practice.

As with any workforce, people are at the core of our decision making. Without the limitations of geography and language, a solid BPS allows you to manage talent to optimize your desired business outcomes. Whether it be shortage or skillset, an outsourcing model will get you the highest quality, specially trained teams. Successful O2C models deployed today encompass metrics-based performance, collection account load balancing, efficiency reporting and use of a hybrid workforce — meaning a combination of humans and automation. Globalization allows us to address the very diverse labor needs across the globe.

Businesses today are facing rapid environmental changes. The successful modern day BPS is uniquely designed to provide resources to enhance and maintain core business processes and to operate them efficiently with flexibility, transparency, and control.

At Conduent, we deliver value added services and solutions for businesses and governments through the strategic application and development of people, processes and technology. Our F&A and Order to Cash practice have a history of success with a diverse set of customers across a multitude of industries. As a modern BPS and partner to the financial services industry for decades, we help our clients extend their resources and find innovative solutions to tackle today’s greatest business challenges. Learn more about the ways we can help build your organization’s success. 

About the Author

Phyllis Miller Saavedra is Director – Global Practice Leader for Order to Cash at Conduent. She has been working in the field of Finance and Accounting, and specifically Order to Cash, for more than 20 years in both functional as well as consultative roles. She has held senior management positions in companies such as Emagia, SanDisk, Novellus and Saba Software. Phyllis also has extensive experience as a consultant and implementer of software in all areas of the order to cash lifecycle.