Magazine article Business Credit

Leveraging the Credit Professional throughout the Business

Magazine article Business Credit

Leveraging the Credit Professional throughout the Business

Article excerpt

I just got back from a meeting with David Gondorf, Business Process Designer for Cisco Systems in San Jose. Although his title is different from mine, David and I actually perform similar functions.

The purpose of my trip was benchmarking. From a management relationship point-of-view, the day-to-day activities associated with performance issues are not significant to me. I was mostly interested in the overall picture of particular aspects of business management. For example, what tools are they currently utilizing to minimize business exposure? What are the effects of maximizing outsourcing? What steps are taken to identify problems early on? What process is used to avoid partnership failures?

This daytrip was devoted to meetings with key people to discuss their roles and responsibilities, the duties involved in the management of outsourcing relationships and the comparison of online tools currently in place, as well as discussing what is required to meet customer demands in the future. The information I brought back will assist us at Microsoft in our effort to measure performance. In turn we will provide the same information to Cisco and, if all goes well, develop shared information resources.

I've been a credit professional for 14 years, and 10 of those years were spent as a director of credit with a company outside the high-tech industry. As the director of credit, my responsibilities were geared toward the traditional style of credit management. My duties included analyzing financials, granting and extending credit terms, visiting troubled customers, controlling collection activity, enforcing the credit policies and practices, managing the credit staff and controlling company assets.

For the last two and a half years, I've been employed with Microsoft (MS) as a credit project manager in MS's Worldwide Credit Services. I am responsible for managing a broad range of projects. I work directly with various business units within MS to insure that managers in the Interactive Media Group (IMG), Procurement, Microsoft Press (MSP) and other business units implement and establish more efficient processes and procedures that reduce risk and protect our interest. In many cases, I solicit my services to these groups through presentations that explain how I can assist them in saving costs and increasing efficiency. Basically, I act more as a consultant, and as a consultant, I provide credit expertise where best practices and sound financial planning is required.

In addition, I'm part of a team that assists in the effort to secure qualified outsource strategic partners for business consideration, and when that partner is approved, I then assist in defining their credit responsibilities. This will ensure that the partner functions as an MS representative or contractor in the most desirable manner. It is important that my involvement will ensure consistency and safety in its final considerations.

Our mission statement at Microsoft is a standard one_ to maximize the protection of accounts receivable while supporting Microsoft's efforts to expand sales and increase market share throughout the world, to evaluate accounts receivable worldwide risk and to make sure we have the appropriate reserves in place. We also do something that, in my opinion, is extremely important - the development of tools to anticipate future risk. We are not just looking at risk: we are looking at credit exposure. One of my mandates is to assist in the development of those tools, an area where I believe we have been very successful.

We maintain continuous and consolidated information on customer financial conditions and outstanding credit balances, as most companies do, and then we provide credit-related expertise and services as a one-stop shopping place. Our credit managers work with controllers on global credit-related issues and interface with supply chains, customer service, sales personnel and issues dealing with customer accounts. …

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