Shifting from time-consuming Excel sheets to concise credit management

By Martin de Heus, VP Direct Sales at Onguard

In today’s world, technology and software are an essential part of business. This is especially true in accounts and credit management departments where organising and sharing data, tracking orders, scheduling tasks and managing workloads are all vital processes for long-term success and growth.

Martin de Heus
Martin de Heus

The type of software used to manage these processes, and store the data generated by them, can help define how efficient and effective a business’s credit management function is. Currently, it’s often carried out using spreadsheets alone.

Sometimes the use of basic standard software is simply a legacy of the past. Basic computer programs were used to get the business up and running and they are often being pushed to their limits by growing businesses today – far beyond their intended purposes.

Excel spreadsheets, for example, are often used for a whole host of working processes that they were not specifically intended for. It’s certainly not the case that the software is intrinsically bad – far from it. Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program that allows users to do a lot with raw data. The issue with Excel is that it is often the wrong tool for the job that credit managers are trying to do.

After all, spreadsheets are ultimately designed for number crunching, not for storing masses of details about customers; their contact details; sales records; payment history and outstanding balances. It’s a problem that tends to get worse as the organisation grows.

Using Excel for tracking credit management when the business is small is certainly convenient and it may even work adequately for a little while. Typically, however, it will not take long for the spreadsheet to become weighed down by complexity and this can lead to it becoming slow with errors inevitably creeping into data and functions.

Growing Pains

When businesses are in that expansion phase, spreadsheets can be a source of frustration and aggravation, often resulting in slow processes and mistakes as their capabilities are stretched almost to breaking point. Specialist software can help here allowing credit managers to maintain control and ensure even tedious tasks are completed efficiently and to a high standard.

Credit managers will be no strangers either to other standard areas of frustration that impact spreadsheet-fixated businesses. Users feeling that they are having to do the same monotonous tasks repeatedly is usually a sure-fire sign that the business needs dedicated software. From inputting data to carrying out credit reviews to managing late payments, specialist software can make workers faster at their job and bring broader business benefits too.

Another key area is ease of access to information. Business systems are often overflowing with data. However, if users are not able to access that data and process it into useful information, then it is unlikely to be doing the business much good.

Even with custom-designed Microsoft Excel sheets, it is typically a manual, time-consuming task to collect relevant data; keep up it to date and make sure it is easily accessible, and the risk of incorrect information, inaccurate financials and cash flow mismanagement is always high.The consequences of these kind of errors can be severe in financial and reputational terms.

An Alternative Approach

With the right dedicated credit management software, however, organisations and their users can access that data and turn it into intelligence that can help the company survive and thrive. Chief financial officers can, for example, use the data to spot trends, examine growth and monitor progress while credit managers can use it to create a credit scoring model and identify the largest customer credit applications, for example.

The big advantage of the best quality specialist credit management software is that unlike spreadsheets, it has been designed specifically with the credit professionals in mind. That means that it will typically integrate with relevant business systems that the customer has and provide a variety of tools for streamlining workflow.

Moreover, it will automate many everyday tasks like data entry, processing payments and correspondence. Added to this, its specialist nature allows it to provide users with the information they need when they need it and makes it easy to share data across business functions.

In short, this type of software allows credit management users to save time on repetitive tasks giving them the chance to focus on customer service and building long-term-relationships. And that’s important. After all, to do a job well, you need the right tools for the job.