Date posted: 18/08/2021 5 min read

How automating accounts receivable benefits your entire business

Automating your accounts receivable function can rescue locked-up dollars on the balance sheet. Brought to you by BlackLine.

Organisations spend millions automating their accounts payable operations, yet there are still trillions of dollars held hostage from out-of-date accounts receivable (AR) processes.
Leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, BlackLine is rescuing those locked-up dollars on the balance sheet, giving businesses control over their cash collection and working capital, and making them more resilient.

Kevin Kimber, BlackLine managing director, Global AR (Accounts Receivable), offers valuable insights on how automation and real-time data can improve decision-making and lead to a better use of working capital.

Kevin Kimber, BlackLine managing director, Global AR (Accounts Receivable)Picture: Kevin Kimber, BlackLine managing director, Global AR (Accounts Receivable).

Q: How does AI automation help businesses improve their order-to-cash processes?

KIMBER: Historically, companies have optimised accounts receivable by increasing headcount to chase payments. But even with more people, companies didn’t have visibility that they’d already been paid. Without an automated system to link this payment to that invoice, that cash was effectively held hostage on the balance sheet. That often led to friction in the customer relationship.

When it came to those that hadn’t paid, these customers had often automated their own accounts payable and had their own processes.

An intelligent platform can immediately identify the simplest, most effective ways for the vendor to retrieve that payment.

Through automation, companies are finding they can reduce their manual processes by about 85% and, crucially, the costs of running their AR functions by 70%, which gives them a huge opportunity to redeploy resources.

“Through automation, companies are finding they can reduce their manual processes by about 85% and, crucially, the costs of running their AR functions by 70%, which gives them a huge opportunity to redeploy resources.”
Kevin Kimber, BlackLine

Q: How does BlackLine Accounts Receivable (AR) automation give businesses more insight into their customers?

KIMBER: Seeing a real-time view of how customers are paying and the trends around those payments allows companies to optimise those customer relationships. For example, many of our customers have grown through acquisition, which means they end up with multi-group, multi-ERP architectures. And when they deploy the BlackLine AR automation suite, they could discover that one customer is actually the end-customer of three other divisions.

Let’s say they acquired their customer on credit-based terms and extended a credit line worth $100,000. But when the CFO discovers that customer is actually an existing customer of three other divisions, suddenly they have a $400,000 exposure as opposed to a $100,000 credit exposure. That’s information the business needs and can act on in real-time.

Taking the power and importance of data further, earlier this year BlackLine released its AR Intelligence capability, which leverages the extensive real-time data in the BlackLine platform to understand the behaviours of payers. This helps drive better strategic decisions from the AR function, such as cash forecasting and customer risk. In addition, AR Intelligence enhances the financial close process in areas such as inter-company cash and bad debt provisions.

Q: How can complex firms take advantage of AI automation for business growth?

KIMBER: Accountants and CFOs now have strategic roles alongside the CEO in organisations. Previously, they were about effectively managing the books and processes, but now they control huge, very rich data sets and are being challenged to support transformative business growth with it. Surfacing that intelligence through accounts receivable data is both valuable and effective, especially at a time when organisations must make smarter and more accurate finance decisions.

Find out more

Download the whitepaper Simplify the Complex… Make the Move to Modern Accounts Receivable Automation here.