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Keep Calm and Hire a Consultant

How many consultants does it take to change a light bulb? (We don’t know. They never get past the feasibility study.)

Change — it isn’t easy. Sometimes the “This is as good as it’s gonna get” mentality seems to sweep through an organization like a norovirus on a cruise ship.

There are many reasons why companies hire experts like consultants. Deciding to invite a stranger into your organization is a big decision, and it illustrates to everyone, from employees to stockholders, that you know you could use some help in making your company the best that it can be and you’re not afraid to ask for it.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step

Let’s explore some of the reasons your company may be ready to get some professional guidance from a consultant:

  • Manage a complicated project.
    Having an expert step in and coordinate a project that involves multiple teams, vendors, and contractors can avoid problems and ensure smooth transitions.
  • Lend a hand to an overwhelmed department.
    Hiring someone with an objective perspective of people and processes is a great way to start working towards minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency.
  • Provide a fresh set of eyes that bring objectivity to existing conditions.
    Your teams may be used to solving problems in one way only. A consultant can step in and employ new tactics to existing problems and teach skills for solving future issues.
  • Offer specialized expertise.
    Instead of incurring the costs associated with hiring new permanent staff or training existing employees, bring on a consultant who will inject the necessary skills and experience that may be missing from your department. As well, he’ll provide what you need within a specified time frame.
  • Acquire better skills and acumen for controlling costs.
    Bringing someone in who has a lot of experience in managing costs and the new technology that supports it ensures a dexterous — even artful — evolution.
  • Educate various teams on new technologies the company is implementing.
    Some people love “playing” with new tools and technology; others may find it daunting and downright scary. A good consultant can work with both types and get everybody up and running.

Those last three are what Darrin Brown, a seasoned cash flow process and change management expert, does particularly well — his clients stand by that claim.

Meet Darrin Brown, half consultant, half ninja

I’m fortunate as I get to take advantage of Darrin’s skill and knowledge every day — he’s a coworker. I don’t know anyone who knows about cash flow processing more than he does, and his enthusiasm is infectious. He also has the rare ability to talk about it in ways that make sense — to everyone.

The art of the possible, by Darrin Brown

Two years ago, before I joined the Billtrust team, I considered myself very astute in the area of cash flow processes as a member of the management team for a Fortune 500 transportation company. During my tenure our organization was able to implement a multitude of new processes in our collections, cash application, accounts payable, and treasury and procurement areas — many of which I was lucky enough to be a part.

However, through the exposure I’ve had to the inner workings of multiple Billtrust customers from follow-up training sessions, new implementations, and cash flow process consultations, I’ve developed a unique perspective — particularly on the similarities and differences of the Order to Cash cycle (O2C) across many types of industries and many popular ERP systems (like Oracle and SAP) as well as custom-built ones.

This exposure has given me a broad perspective on best-practice theories when looking at the O2C process. Every cash manager I’ve interviewed has implied that her process is “unique,” that their company has issues that aren’t like anyone else’s. While I agree that I have not come across two processes that are exactly the same, the most common cash flow challenges are universal, and  I’ve been able to see different approaches to those challenges  to varying degrees of success.

Sharing my experiences with your team can help reduce Day Sales Outstanding (DSO), gain workforce efficiency, reduce peripheral processing costs, increase accuracy, and even have a positive impact on employee morale.

The  science of strategy

When you engage our consulting group, our first step is to determine the specifics of what you’re trying to accomplish. Together we’ll determine a target, ideally something measurable like DSO reduction, productivity gain, or error reduction.

Because accounts receivable processes vary from customer to customer, step two involves an on-site visit for a couple of days with access to your key players. This will allow for a deep dive into your targeted processes. We’ll also assess the effectiveness of department personnel and get an overall feel for the department.

Finally, the analysis phase begins. We’ll review the data, identify weak points in the process, and formally submit detailed, logical recommendations that include observations— both positive and negative — about the group’s culture.

The goal of every consulting engagement is to be able to confidently state your  AR process is world-class, and it’s my mission to make sure all the light bulbs in your organization are changed and bursting with efficient light.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer

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