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In logistics, billing tends to be a highly manual, labor-intensive back-office function that generally is not considered strategic, says Smalley, enterprise account executive at Billtrust. "Our goal is to change that mindset and challenge our clients to think how the billing process can add value to the business."
The key to adding value is automation, he says. “Automating processes reduces the time it takes to get paid, and since cash is king in any business, moving that needle raises the billing process to a strategic function.”
Another manual process that slows down the invoice-to-cash cycle is properly matching and crediting payments against outstanding invoices. “It is a challenge when a customer pays a bill and it takes up to four days for that payment to be applied,” says Smalley. “If the cash is in hand but is not applied to open invoices, there is a downstream effect on capital.”
Billtrust has developed a dynamic technology that matches payments against open items, and flags or auto-corrects discrepancies, says Smalley. “This helps reduce the number of days outstanding on receivables and automates cash applications,” he says.
Smalley says it is easy to make a business case for billing automation. “Accelerating the speed with which payments are received and properly applied has a lot of positive downstream effects,” he says. “Ultimately, moving customers off paper and to electronic processes can result in significant savings, in some cases totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.”
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