Magazine article Business Credit

Tools for Collections, Dispute Solutions and Managing Credit Lines

Magazine article Business Credit

Tools for Collections, Dispute Solutions and Managing Credit Lines

Article excerpt

Humans have continually dreamed of a life where all the chores and mundane tasks of their days are taken over by somebody else. Fiction is dominated by futures where machines are the beasts of burden, taking the reins on both dangerous and boring jobs. In the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons, even the most complicated functions had been boiled down to the push of a button, while in the home the Jetson family sat back and rested weary index fingers as their robotic maid Rosie tended to all the cooking, cleaning and household monotony. That style of life set in the year 2062 used to seem millions of miles away. But the reality is computers and robots currently perform a vast number of functions today, from the office, to the manufacturing plant, to even on the surface of alien worlds, while in homes across the globe, Roomba's scour the floors on dirt patrol.

Though humans have not quite arrived at the space age lifestyle envisioned by Hanna-Barbera, in some ways, it's already here.

Modern day technology has propelled the output of a single individual to fairly impressive heights. The concept of the assembly line, made famous by the Ford Motor Company during the first decades of the 20th Century, revolutionized manufacturing, and imagination and innovation have built upon that. Since then, fax machines, computers, the Internet, cell phones and Blackberries[TM] have changed the pace at which business is now conducted, and has made the global marketplace available to even the smallest of enterprises. Like Rosie the robot and the roving Roomba, automation has also enabled people to clear repetitive, often dreaded and time-consuming tasks from their plates, allowing them to focus on more productive and profitable undertakings. For credit departments, credit scoring programs have already eased the burden of black-and-white credit decisions, providing credit professionals more opportunity to focus on those applications that require the real art of analysis. And in our current environment of layoffs, defaults and bankruptcies, technology is finding a home in other areas like collections and dispute solutions.

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"One of the big things that we're seeing is much closer attention being paid to the customer relationship," remarked CJ Wimley, vice president, SunGard Data Systems Inc.'s Banks and Corporations Unit. As credit tightened, a greater emphasis on the entire credit management process was born. New customers are looked at more closely, while long-time customers are being inspected for those first real wobbles that will lead to default or worse. It's a situation made even more difficult by the fact that customers have slowed payments to try and better manage their own cash flows.

"I think everyone is definitely more aware of due dates and the possibility of defaults given the current economy and the collapse of the financial system as we knew it," said Harry Stephens, president, CEO and founder, DATAMATX, one of the country's largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. Unfortunately, one of the problems facing the industry is that credit professionals have increasingly had to do more with less and have had to devise means to do their jobs more efficiently as they perform the functions of multiple individuals. In this way, the credit function continues to evolve, be streamlined and be influenced by advancements in technology.

Wimley is someone who believes that there is considerable room for credit departments to evolve. He feels that many are beleaguered by antiquated processes. He points toward the order, hold and release process and laments it often remains labor intensive as orders arrive, are manually entered into a queue and then manually released one by one. But with credit lines in need of being fully monitored and managed, Wimley thinks that outdated processes will bubble to the surface as an ever-pressing issue. …

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