Sometimes a change of name can lead to a beneficial change of attitude for a business, says Laurie Beagle, Managing Director of Forums International.
I am a great believer that words and titles can be interpreted differently by the reader. In the case of credit ‘controller’, this can have the connotation that the person is there to ‘control’ the business rather than the credit function supporting the business.
We have all heard of credit being called the ‘order prevention team’. However, on the other hand, control can be seen as controlling one of the company’s biggest assets: cash and receivables.
Making the case
Well, I am going to make my case that ‘control’ should be replaced with the word ‘commercial’. All of us, in the credit organisation, at whatever level, probably interact with more parts of the company than anybody else – such as sales, marketing, sales administration, logistics, production, finance, treasury, the list goes on and on.
Also, in a lot of cases, we interact or communicate with the customer more than anybody else, including sales. I once called credit professionals ‘octopuses’, as we have many connections, legs in this case. So, back to my original argument, I believe ‘control’ gives out the wrong signals and ‘commercial’, or something similar, can make your colleagues in the other departments that you interact with feel you are on the same team and that you are there to make the deal happen.
Today, there are a lot of job titles and I would like to hear what yours is. A new slant on O2C for me recently was that ‘order to cash’ has become ‘opportunity to cash’. That I do like.
While we are talking about ‘control’, how do you manage your master data? Is it in a dedicated department, part of the credit team, part of administration or owned by somebody else. Also, is it across all functions and geographics? I was very surprised recently, when master data was discussed at our SAP User Group that there are so many formulas and even more horror stories.
Master data should be the foundation stone of your customer, order and billing information database. it takes a lot of work to get it set up correctly in the first place. One example is: do you really have the customers details correct? Just consider that A.B. Smith (South West) and sons Ltd could be recorded in many ways, and all different from the correct one and the one at companies house.
How many different variations can you see? Such as A.B. Smith (SW) Ltd. Once the data is in place and as close and correct as possible – 100% must be the goal, but what is the reality? – then it is a case of keeping it clean and that is where one team in control, working by one set of rules, is so important.
I mentioned horror stories. One I will mention is a global company that implemented SAP, but did not put a Master Data team in place, so many departments were adding data, and in a lot of cases, incorrectly.
They have now seen the light, but how do you put the clock back? They cannot start again, so they have now put in two teams and one set of rules. One team handles all new data entries and new changes. The second team is validating the existing database. All I can say is the very best of luck!
10th July: Credit Professionals Forum – Bracknell
11th July: SAP User Group – Birmingham
12th July: IT Distributors & Resellers Forum – Stratford Upon Avon
17th July: Business & Office Supplies Credit Forum – Birmingham
19th July: Pharmaceuticals International Credit Forum – Dublin
Remember they are FREE to attend