APQC Benchmarking Reveals How Top-performing A/R Functions Improve Cash Flow

OB10, the electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) network, and APQC, the benchmarking and research firm, have collaborated to produce a best practices-focused whitepaper: ‘Accounts Receivable (A/R) Performance: Doing OK is No Longer Good Enough’. The paper reveals the hidden costs associated with A/R practices and highlights the solutions used by top-performing companies to refine processes and improve performance.

Based on this year’s APQC A/R Benchmarking Survey of 154 A/R professionals, the whitepaper shows that top-performing organizations spend US$1.17 to process a single invoice; this is a dramatic 97% less than those at the bottom of the scale where the cost reaches US$39.61 per invoice. This disparity indicates that automation, process refinement, and redeploying staff to more value-added responsibilities can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

The report shows that many organisations still submit paper invoices via regular mail, email and fax. While they may believe that these processes are sound, transitioning to electronic solutions such as customer or supplier portals, electronic data interchange (EDI), or third-party e-invoicing networks can generate major efficiencies, reduce errors, decrease invoice disputes and increase the speed of collections.

As illustrated in the report, streamlining the A/R process can reduce days sales outstanding (DSO), leading to a significant financial impact. The example demonstrated that for a US$31bn organisation at the industry median for DSO, cutting DSO by half a day can add a one-time boost of US$34m to the balance sheet. Although the impact on a smaller organization will be relative to its size, DSO reduction can result in significant improvement to the cash balance of any organisation.

“Over the years, our benchmarking methodologies and metrics have helped organisations assess and improve financial management performance,” said Mary Driscoll, senior research fellow for APQC. “There is ample evidence to show that organisations must pay close attention to their invoice submission processes and explore solutions that will boost productivity, increase efficiency, and potentially liberate millions of dollars trapped in A/R.”


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