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‘Being paid is as much a part of the relationship as supplying the goods or service’

‘CREDIT MATTERS VIII DISCOVER DNA 2.5’  was the title of a major international conference just held in Brno. Business directors and managers of businesses from across the CEE region came to hear presentations on such topics as Working Capital Management; Talent Attraction & Development; the Economic outlook; Top trends in office & working environment. Photos: Maťka Králiková and Jitka Janů. Courtesy of ACCEE.

Brno, Oct 17 (BD) – This was the eighth such conference organised by Brno based ACCEE, which is a leading provider of best practice in Credit Management across the Central and Eastern European region. Mark Harrison, founder and CEO of ACCEE, who has lived in Brno for 14 years and has 35 years experience in credit management says “Being paid is as much a part of the relationship as supplying the goods or service.” Indeed, many businesses fail not through lack of sales, but lack of cash.  ACCEE highlight that Credit Management, Account Receivable, Order to Cash (O2C) are the most critical components of a company’s financial supply chain. Take a look at Trade Receivables on a company’s balance sheet and it will account for a large part of the total assets.

The style of the conference  was engaging and involving – forget monotonal voices and confusing powerpoint presentations. A good example was the session on Risk Management given by Eefje Van Craen of Bureau Van Dijk and Paolo di Stefano of Lego. They started by distributing lego bricks from which the attendees had 20 seconds to create a small duck. Paolo explained “ in Lego, we use this duck at job interviews. Everyone creates their own duck. The point is, they are all different. There are as many ducks as there are people. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ducks.” They emphasised the proactive management of credit control. In collaboration with Bureau Van Dijk, Lego have created client portfolios to pre-evaluate customers for the sales department. This does away with the wasted effort of attracting new customers only  to find their credit status is not good enough for the orders to be accepted. In this process they have a set of criteria (e.g. minimum 5 employees) to select healthy companies. In this way they rule out about 42% of companies and thus follow their rule ‘only the best is good enough’. 

 Looking to the future and how new methods can be integrated with traditional methods also featured. Ali Rezaei Yazdi of Rimilia spoke about Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in O2C (order to cash) and how they can help improve working capital management.  This involved the demonstration of  how artificial intelligence learns; at first the apparently ‘stupid’ AI was giving non-sense responses; with time, explanations and more specific questions the AI becomes very efficient and ‘smart’.

The importance of people was not forgotten. Gabor Koros and Sebastien Grand of Computacenter introduced their  internal career-path system, the Ascension Programme (AP); transparency and recognition are key here. Employees know from day one how the programme works. There are scoring criteria for all aspects of an employee’s life. It’s not just about what happens at work, such as internal training programmes, but also outside experience such as voluntary work and hobbies. Applicants for the AP present their goals to the board to be selected. This all results in higher retention, improved operational results and increased proactivity.

Deloitte, Dixons Carphone and Diageo were among the companies sharing best practice and expertise. From the last of these, Gabor Gondas described the 3-year transition for his team. Moving from a low visibility, back-office function to becoming a respected business partner expanding the footprint significantly with new scopes and exciting challenges. This is credit and cash management today no longer isolated in some dark corner of the business.

Mark Harrison is already moving on to preparing next year’s conference in Krakow but when asked about the key issues in credit control in the Czech Republic, said, “as with all countries , it is a lack of focus and priority given to getting paid.“  His one piece of advice was “emphasize your payment terms to your client at the very beginning of the contract.”

Mark Harrison

‘There are as many ducks as there are people’  This comes from the latest ACCEE Credit Matters conference in Brno. Leading managers came together to share their experience.

This all results in higher retention, improved operational results and increased proactivity.

Brno Daily is a media partner of the conference in Brno.

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