Magazine article Business Credit

High-Level Temporaries: Adding Value to Your Credit Department

Magazine article Business Credit

High-Level Temporaries: Adding Value to Your Credit Department

Article excerpt

Louise Johnson runs the credit department at a large company we'll call XYZ Electronics. XYZ's business is prospering. Its latest new product has helped the company open up hundreds of new accounts, virtually tripling its retail presence.

But this increase in business has created tremendous pressures on the credit department. Until last year, Louise directed the activities of three credit managers.

Now, with the department growing so quickly, it's harder for her to keep track of every project. And the continuing expansion of retail accounts means the company needs to upgrade its credit and collection policies and procedures - a project that's taking up an increasing amount of Louise's time.

The Point of Impact

This is where a high-level temporary could make a positive impact on her company. High-level temporaries that is, senior professionals with substantial experience and expertise in credit department operations and management - deliver many benefits. For starters, bringing them on board to help in a pinch can help ensure a smooth work flow through predictable and unpredictable busy periods.

But the biggest reward of using high-level temporaries is that they offer important skills and knowledge that may be lacking among existing credit managers. High-level temporaries are strategic thinkers, able to act as consultants to help you run the department more efficiently. This covers many areas, including the ability to do the following:

* Develop new techniques for reporting to line managers.

* Research potential technology solutions.

* Streamline communications between the departments that credit works with most closely (i.e., accounting and finance).

* Keep an eye out for new opportunities or challenges that can improve departmental productivity.

* Supervise others where appropriate.

* Make staffing recommendations.

Though not every high-level temporary will possess all of these skills, the ability to draw on the wide knowledge base of an experienced senior professional can be a tremendous asset. A typical departmental scenario might require a very senior person who can quickly design a new customer database. Once installed, the system could be maintained on a daily basis by more junior members of the company's full-time credit staff.

What Kind Of Expertise Do You Need?

Make Sure as you clarify the scope of your needs that you consider the complete range of necessary skills. While solid technical skills are one priority, it will help to think in broader terms - particularly when you're looking to engage the services of a senior credit professional. In the case of Louise's department, she desperately needs someone with supervisory experience and the ability to effectively strategize, plan and manage the execution of several projects (freeing her to spend time developing the new set of policies and procedures). Because this requires extensive interaction with others in the department, first-rate interpersonal skills rank high on Louise's list of priorities.

A second key factor is cost. Though an initial sense of your overall needs and deadlines will provide some indication of a potential budget, properly determining costs is not easy. One good way to arrive at a solid budget is to consult a staffing services firm specializing in such areas as credit and finance. These firms should be able to give you a set of estimated costs for obtaining the services of every level of credit professional.

Because they will have pre-screened temporaries and thoroughly checked their references before making a recommendation, staffing firms can greatly streamline the process of finding qualified credit professionals. They know that what matters most to you is finding someone whose skills are a fit with your department's specific needs. Most of all, these firms understand that the credit professional coming to your department should require virtually no training - that is, little more than a concise explanation of the project and the freedom to jump into it immediately. …

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