Harmonizing the Invoice-to-Cash (I2C) process with the help of Heeros Sales Invoices

Embarking on our exploration, we'll dive into real-life scenarios to illustrate the common obstacles that companies encounter in their journey from invoicing to cash.

In our example, Susan is a global accounts receivables/order-to-cash process owner for a manufacturing business
operating in multiple countries. The business has customers in several countries, and the company has set up sales and service operations at multiple sites, while manufacturing takes place in a central location.

What are some of the common challenges Susan and her team could face? 

Henri Liuska
Henri Liuska  | 6 minute reading time

Navigating through the jungle of customer-specific and country-specific requirements

The first and foremost thing is naturally to ensure that invoices get to customers in time after a product or service is sold and delivered. Sounds simple, but it may not be if you operate in multiple countries and deal with a lot of different customers. Some of them require you to send electronic invoices in a specific way, and increasingly, many countries are starting to require the same

So, Susan might need help from, for example, a consultant who explains the compliance requirements in a country, as well as some support from IT to get the necessary invoice data out of the company’s ERP – which may not often be the latest generation version. And even if it is, it may be quite expensive and time-consuming to make any changes to the ERP.

And remember, it’s not going to be a static environment as countries’ and trading partners’ requirements also evolve. 

Struggling to get the numbers delivered on time 

The CFO, of course, wants the numbers to come in on time so that there’s enough real-time visibility into the business and cash flow. This information is needed to steer the business. But there may be a major problem: While the company has grown, it ended up having multiple different systems, and all the business processes across systems are certainly not perfectly integrated together and fully automated.

So, Susan’s team does a major part of the work manually. The team has to move invoice data from multiple different ERPs to the group’s main ERP solution and also to a separate business intelligence (BI) system that is used by the CFO's office.

They also deal with a lot of email and paper invoices. This means there is always some delay in getting the numbers in, and the CFO is not very happy. Sometimes it also happens that some information gets corrupted when it is moved manually – and a lot of time is spent finding and fixing the mistakes made in the manual steps. 

Trying to ensure invoices are paid in time 

While sending invoices electronically helps expedite payments, it doesn't address the entire issue. To regain control, Susan needs to ensure that accounts receivable (AR) is effectively managed from end to end. This means she and her AR team must have real-time visibility into the AR ledger as well —to ascertain whether invoices are paid promptly and to respond accordingly.

However, the process is often highly manual. In this scenario, the AR team must download extracts from multiple online banks, and one bank only provides information in paper form. The team is scheduled to reconcile payments with invoices only twice a month due to the extensive manual work involved when dealing with hundreds of invoices and payments each time.

This results in a delay of several weeks in centralized AR visibility. Only after this manual workload can the team commence sending out payment reminders or initiating a collection process if necessary — again through manual steps and often belatedly. 

Seeking a solution 

In our example, Susan was hired as a process owner because the company had realized the urgent need to accelerate progress just to reach a baseline, let alone surpass it. They wanted to reverse this situation. Consequently, Susan was tasked with reimagining how to globally organize processes to enable greater digitalization, automation, business visibility, and improved cash flow and scalability to support business growth. 

Susan initially contemplated collaborating with their primary ERP provider to undertake major upgrades and migrate all business units to a single ERP. However, she soon recognized that this would be a protracted and risky multi-year endeavor that didn't align well with their company's overarching strategy. Consequently, she opted for a best-in-breed Invoice-to-Cash solution that could integrate with their existing landscape instead. Next, we'll explore the benefits gained through this approach. 

Choosing the solution with the fastest ROI 

Typically, selecting easily integrated ERP extensions that offer best-of-breed process-specific solutions yields at least three key benefits: 

  1. Implementation is much faster and more cost-effective (up to 90% faster implementation compared to ERP projects), as you may only require a single integration to unlock value. 
  2. Solutions deliver greater value (e.g., automation, control, visibility) for specific processes such as invoice-to-cash, invoice-to-pay, or financial reporting (ERPs cannot excel at everything). 
  3. Leveraging modular solutions provides greater flexibility to align with your specific business needs. 

Heeros Sales Invoices helps tackle country-specific & buyer-specific requirements 

With the assistance of Heeros Sales Invoices, Susan’s team can enable legally compliant e-invoicing across multiple European countries. It also ensures the company’s Invoice-to-Cash processes are future-proof, helping to meet the requirements of ever-evolving e-invoicing mandates and buyer-specific format requirements, both now and in the future. Consequently, invoices are delivered on time, and cash is collected faster. 

Reports indicate that just the direct staff costs of compiling and sending out paper invoices can amount to up to 10 euros per invoice, so that’s quite a saving already. 

Real-time business visibility with Heeros Sales Invoices 

As Heeros Sales Invoices creates a centralized layer on top of a decentralized and non-harmonized ERP landscape, Susan’s company now has—for the first time—real-time visibility into all outgoing invoices and the AR ledger. This helps Susan’s team meet their KPIs and allows the CFO's office to better steer the entire business. 

Improving cash flow through automated Invoice-to-Cash processes 

As data from all ERPs now moves to a centralized I2C solution in real-time and Heeros Sales Invoices enables automated connections to fetch payment data from banks across Europe, the collection-related processes can also be fully automated—from payment matching to payment reminders and collection services provided by Heeros’ partners. This can further improve the company’s cash flow, reduce bad debt, and eliminate a lot of manual work.

Previously, Susan’s team had to spend several days each month downloading payment information from multiple online banks and then manually matching all payment records to invoices. Now, this process occurs automatically with the assistance of Heeros Sales Invoices and open banking connections. 

Let's discuss how Heeros Invoice-to-Cash solutions can instantly boost your ERP's capabilities. Book a meeting with us today.

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