Forums Generate a Dynamic Learning Environment

Article excerpt

Four times a year, the Credit Research Foundation of NACM holds educational forums which have broad appeal for those interested in refining skills and enhancing performance in the credit department.

The Credit Research Foundation (CRF), chartered in 1949, is a member-supported research and education organization. It's mission: "To be the preeminent source of information, research, and contemporary thought on credit, accounts receivable, and related fields; to provide timely and valuable research to professionals in credit, collections, and accounts receivable management; and to achieve recognition as the preeminent research institution in credit, accounts receivable, and related fields" is carried out in admirable fashion when a Forum is held.

The Forums were created almost immediately after CRF was incorporated, beginning as credit management workshops, held three or four times each year for senior credit managers. Discussion topics were mediated by research committee members and academics. In 1973, CRF began holding Open Regional Meetings for its members, and the first Open Forum was held that year in Atlanta, Ga.

Today, several Forums are held to reach the broadest possible audience in the credit field. Credit and Financial Management Forums are day-long meetings aimed at credit managers; Senior Credit Executive Forums are two-day meetings for senior management; and a new concept, the CCE Open Forum is currently taking shape.

Where's the Beef?

There is limited availability of research information in the area of credit and accounts receivable management. However, CRF is in a unique position to offer specialized services to credit professionals. The Research Committee, voluntarily staffed by senior credit executive, together with CRF staff, form the driving force behind research efforts. This committee investigates, develops, refines, and updates research reports in credit and accounts receivable management, and related fields. With support by top practitioners, CRF is in a position not only to produce research results, but results that are timely and valuable to credit managers. The Forums provide a way for these researchers and professionals to share ideas, discuss on-going problems, and find practical solutions.

The Forums are moderated by acknowledged leaders in business credit and the round table discussions make for multi-level educational programs. Each session is personalized to cover topics suggested by participants. The open format and experienced discussion leaders ensure interactive discussion and learning. Rather than a static session in which topics have been researched and formed by a single individual, each Forum evolves through the participation of each attendee, making for the dynamic learning environment so highly prized today.

TQM and Beyond

The Credit and Financial Management Forums concentrate on state-of-the-art techniques and technologies, everything from departmental structure to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Jeannine Trinque, vice president, Internal Audit Bureau, Hamlin, Penn. attended the most recent Forum in Cincinnati, Ohio and had this to say, "I was particularly interested in how the participants were dealing with budget restrictions while continuing to get the job done. We were able to discuss how each was compensating for a reduced staff or tight budget through the use of new technologies, outsourcing, and the like." Discussions cover topics such as measures of performance, computerization (the latest innovations in credit/accounts receivables systems), risk analysis, deduction management (how to track, collect, or write-off deductions and chargebacks), benchmarking (What is it? How will it affect each participant?), and imaging and work flow management (how to move to a paperless environment).

Senior Credit Executive Forum participants go beyond today's cutting edge; their objective is to look at policy-related issues and the future of credit management. …