If you’re like many of our clients, cash flow is a top priority. Making sure that receivables get collected and cash keeps flowing in is very important. And most companies don’t have an adequate number of collections folks to handle this important task. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the New Dynamics AX has built an entire application to streamline collection activities and allow collections agents to be more effective.
Welcome to the new Credit and Collections Module.
There are lots and lots of tools, queries and reports in this module designed just for your collections staff but let’s deeper dive into a few of the key tools:
- Collection Agents and Collection Pools
- One-stop collections window
- Activity tracking and follow-up reminders
- Collections cases
Collection Agents and Customer Collections Pools
Collections staff are more efficient when they can focus on their assigned customers. With Dynamics AX Credit and Collections, you can easily assign customers to collection agents. The Collections Agents see only the past due customers for which they are responsible but managers see all past due customers.
Customers can be automatically assigned to a collections agent by 1) creating a Customer Collection Pool with user-defined criteria (i.e. sales region, open balance, aging) and then 2) assigning the collections agent to one or more of these pools. Whenever you open a window or run a query based on the pool criteria, all customers meeting that criterion are included. There is no need to manually add new customers. If there is a change in collections agents, you don’t have to re-assign each customer. You can just re-assign the collections agent assigned to the pool(s).
As you can see in the below window, you can have multiple pools based on different criteria.
Each Collection Agent is assigned to one or more Customer Collection Pool. In this example, Connie Vrettos is the most experienced collections person and has been assigned to collect from accounts over 180 days past due. She is also the Collections Department manager and periodically reviews the status of all outstanding balances. The Collections Agent’s assignment is set up so that Connie will automatically see all accounts but can change her view to allow her to focus on just accounts which are over 180 days past due.
One-Stop Collections Window
Your collections staff can be more efficient in collection activities because Dynamics AX has one window from which all collection queries and activities can be performed. This window displays all the information which your staff needs to manage collections and has one-click access to all collection activities.
- Shows all relevant customer information, open balances, collections activities and details of disputes.
- Allows users to print or email copies of invoices, statements and collection letters
- Allows the status of an invoice to be changed to ‘Disputed’ so that collection efforts are changed or suspended for this particular invoice.
- Assigns invoices to Collection Cases (see Collection Cases below)
- Schedules future follow-up activities by collection agent (see Activity Tracking below)
Activity Tracking and Follow-Up Reminders
Look at the bottom section of the collections window above. From this One-Stop Collections Window, your collections professionals can track all the activities which they have performed to collect balances for this customer. No more Post-it Notes, no more separate lists of activities. If a collections rep leaves or goes on vacation, another rep can get up to speed immediately because they can see every phone call, every fax, every email, and every promise to pay on this account.
The users can even set up future reminders of collection activities to be done. These future reminders can display in Outlook, increasing the efficiency of the reminder because the user will see the scheduled task even before they sign into AX.
As noted above, the collection status of an invoice can be changed to ‘Disputed’ so that collection efforts can be changed or suspended. This is valuable but in some cases, a disputed invoice is part of a larger issue and you want to track the activities and status against the larger issue. The larger issue might involve multiple invoices, multiple customers, purchase orders and vendors, inventory still on hand, etc. Responsibility for resolution of the issue might reside outside collections, with the sales manager or QC manager. For this kind of issue, Dynamics AX has Collection Cases.
A Collection Case is like an envelope. In this ‘envelope’, you put all the transactions related to the issue. On the outside of the ‘envelope’, you keep track of the steps taken (and scheduled to be taken in the future) to resolve and close the issue. The ‘envelope’ can also have a standard sequence of steps to be taken for this type of issue.
Let’s use the example of a customer refusing to pay an invoice because of a quality issue with the product you delivered to them a few months ago. The collections person learns of this issue while attempting to collect the account. The collections person sets up a Collections – QC case. Based upon the workflow assigned to this type of case, the QC manager is assigned responsibility. They investigate and learn that there was a defective product delivered from a vendor and the defective product impacts three other customer accounts. Plus, there is some of the defective stock still on the shelves. Each of these transactions (customer invoices, vendor invoices, and inventory transactions) can be assigned to the case (i.e. put in the ‘envelope’). All activity on the case is recorded.
All actions taken can be logged to the case and are visible to all appropriate users.
While the case process is on-going, the collections person (and management) can review the status of the case and determine appropriate collection steps.
The designers of Microsoft Dynamics AX realize that collecting customer balances is a necessary but challenging function for all companies. By giving the users a few critical tools and a One-stop Collections window, Dynamics AX will allow your collections professionals to be even more efficient in their collection efforts and results.
About the Author
Diann Spencer, Western Computer’s Dynamics AX Finance Consultant, has been involved in many successful implementations of Dynamics AX in small, midmarket, and large companies across a variety of industries. Diann has over a decade of financial experience and she is a Certified Public Accountant.More Content by Diann Spencer