The majority of the accounts receivable entities in the country have fewer than 100 seats. However, each organization can have just as many unique technology requirements as those with over 1,000. The trick is selecting a collection software solution that will satisfy these needs and needs that will develop over time. Many accounts receivable professionals make mistakes when confronted by this daunting task. Collection Advisor gathered the advice of technology thought leaders to reveal how you can avoid such pitfalls.
What is a mistake you see accounts receivable professionals make in regard to small office collection software and how can it be avoided?
Thomas Mohr CEO of Beam Software
My dad used to say, “It’s not that you get what you pay for, but you never get what you don’t pay for!” Small businesses should clearly ask providers for a detailed list of the tools and support services that come standard with their collection platform. A common mistake is believing the system comes with certain features or it includes things like after-hours or unlimited support. Small businesses should ask the software provider to clearly articulate cost versus value.
Tony LaMagna Partner at The Computer Manager
There are many factors to consider when evaluating new collection software for a small offi ce. One aspect often overlooked is evaluating more than just the software. The company behind and team supporting the software should also be evaluated. By diligently researching support fees, programming services and interface capabilities along with features and capabilities of the software the small business can avoid hidden and additional costs. It also allows for the small offi ce to see a full picture of how the business relationship will support their success and growth.
Fritz Schulze President and CEO of Comtech Systems Inc.
A mistake we often see is for new agencies to start with a software that cannot grow with them as their requirements become more complex. We suggest that new and small users consider three areas when selecting software: feature set, fl exibility and scalability. A good feature set includes credit bureau reporting, remote access, client access, multiple reporting options, new business importing, automations and scheduling. Flexibility means that you can confi gure the system to suit your workfl ow, and not the other way around. It does not take long for new users to want to customize their system, and no two sets of requirements are ever the same. By either using HELP documentation, or with Technical Support Department, users can re-allocate fi elds, change fi eld names, build custom reports, set up complex fi nancials, add a database, create very complex, embedded event plans, report to bureaus and much more. Finally, by using a scalable application, agencies that start with fi ve users can grow to hundreds of users and millions of accounts, all without a dreaded data migration.
Jeff Dantzler President of Comtronic Systems
Small must not be synonymous with less. Regardless of agency size you need the best security and constant eyes on performing software updates and patches. In today’s world you must be in the cloud because you can’t afford the IT department that will ensure your survival otherwise.
Carl Briganti President/CEO of CSS, Inc.
Probably the most common mistake accounts receivable professionals make with respect to their small offi ce collection software is not investing the time to familiarize themselves with the entire toolset of features and functions that the application offers to them and leverage these to deploy more sound, effective and automated business processes. Repurposing just one employee that performs a manual task to the production fl oor by automating that process will have a signifi cant incidence on the bottom line. However, more often than not, small offi ces fail to allocate a resource or resources to dedicate to a consistent and continued “process improvement” of their collection software or overlook the fact that they are underutilizing the application and systems remain provisioned with virtually the basic requirements defi ned during the migration procedures. Furthermore, most small offi ces either do not plan for a “phase two” implementation to take the system to a higher level of effi cacy or, if they do, they never get to it as they get immersed in the daily routines and this opportunity is ultimately missed. Leveraging the option to continuously fi ne-tune the collection software can have a signifi cant return on investment for any small offi ce and this fact should not be overlooked.
Lex Patterson President of DAKCS Software
A mistake would be not choosing a platform that grows with you. If your system doesn’t provide growth and scalability, the inability to compete and win business, or causes expensive migration costs, you may be opening up your business for unforeseen obstacles in the long run. Market experience, a customer centric culture, and a deep suite of technology solutions are all necessary benefi ts when looking for technology partners. The low costs in the beginning are not always better when you consider the lifetime ROI.
Matthew Hill President/CEO of The InterProse Corporation
In my opinion, mistake number one is undervaluing the advantages of automation and third-party integrations. So often, the fi rst instinct of a small company is to focus on the hard costs of a software platform and put insuffi cient weight on variable costs like employee time and consulting services. By identifying collection software with a heavy focus on process automation, inherited security and infrastructure compliance, and mature third-party technology integrations, a small company can appear quite large through increasing effi ciency by eliminating wasted time and unnecessary consultants for a modest monthly commitment. I believe in letting machines do the hard or mundane tasks - for the purpose of this topic, I will relate it to digging a hole. Would you rather hire fi ve employees with shovels to take two days to dig a big hole, or rent a backhoe that accomplish that task in a fraction of the time and free you up to move on to the next job? With today’s technology, every minute of every hour a small business’s employees are committed to non-revenue generating tasks that a machine can do faster and more accurately is money wasted. JAMES DUNLAP CEO of Lariat I’ve seen many accounts receivable professionals choose low-cost, antiquated software that isn’t adaptable or scalable and which doesn’t prioritize customer service. Perhaps it is what they know already, but it often isn’t the best option for the success of their business.
Ranjan Dharmaraja CEO of Quantrax Corporation
Most successful companies have had collection systems for over two decades. This is a new generation of people, management style and technology. Look at change, but do not change to do what you now do with newer technology. Look at change to increase effi ciency and offer your clients and consumers better service through mobile and self-service options that will probably dominate the industry very quickly. DAN HORNUNG President of Roydan Smaller collection operations often don’t have the resources available to manage their internal IT needs. A great way to avoid this is to fi nd the right partners that can help take these aspects of your business off your plate, so you can concentrate on building your business and developing ongoing relationships with your clients. Take the time to interview vendors and fi nd someone who’s a good fi t from both a personal and business perspective.
Chris Campbell CEO of Simplicity Collection Software
More often than not, small collection offi ces tend to focus on the now, forgetting about future growth and business opportunities. Decisions regarding software, technology, fl exibility and future growth, oftentimes fall by the wayside and the pressing question becomes, “I need a collection software now, what can I get?” Fast-forward two or three years when business has grown, and the business is expanding their client base, or revising business processes to accommodate the growth. Typically the software selected without regard for future expansion will not be adequate. The solution is simply to spend a little bit of extra time up front to select a software that will grow and adapt with the fi nancial and logistical changes of your business; one that will not hold your collection data hostage when and/ or if you want to make a software change. Be sure to select a collection software that is fl exible, customizable and adaptable to your current and future needs.