Are you currently assessing accounts receivables automation tools? Buying and implementing new software often starts out with a bang. A few months later though, a different story. Here’s our guide on how to best to assess them. It includes handy questions to ask so you can be confident in purchasing the right AR software for your business needs.
1. Understand exactly what your business needs are
What are your pain points? Do you know the KPIs you’ll set to measure the success of it? Are there non-negotiable features the tool must have? Do different decision makers/influencers have different needs? From the outset, make sure you’re reviewing tools and drafting a business case that meets the needs of the entire business, not just one or two users.
To fully understand what problems you need to solve, some good questions to ask are:
- Is cash flow a problem?
- Are reports to the Exec/Board answering the questions they need to?
- Do we have a solid accounts receivables process?
- What is causing frustration for the team members managing AR?
- How much time is being spent doing manual AR tasks?
- Do we have too much AR work for our staffing level?
- How are our customers paying us vs the terms agreed?
- Do we know why our customers are paying us late?
- Do we have a high number of disputes each month?
- How much time is spent in regular meetings reviewing AR and debtors?
- Are we delivering a good customer experience when it comes to accounts receivables?
2. Identify tools that meet your needs
This ties back to the key question of what your team actually needs from an accounts receivables automation tool. Once you know what’s needed, you can then start narrowing down which AR automation tools you’re going to assess. Take a look at the features, and cross-check these against that initial list of needs you collated. Will they help solve these pain points? Are they included in the standard fees or are there additional costs for features that are non-negotiable for your business?
3. Find out how easy implementation is
While implementation might not be something the end users will be worrying about, it is definitely something you should consider. How easy is it to implement the new tool and importantly, how long is it going to take your staff to set it up? If the investment in time is low for implementation then that’s one hurdle you can tick off when it comes to signing off the business case.
Good questions to ask around implementation are:
- Which ERP/accounting systems does your tool integrate with?
- From subscribing to pressing go on the first workflow, how long does it usually take to get the tool up and running ?
- Do you need to have IT professionals involved in the integration or can it be done by the finance team themselves?
4. See how easy it is to use in real life
It happens to the best of us. We find a new app or tool that’s going to save us time and money. We roll it out with fanfare. The team is excited and then, 2 or 3 months down the track when we check in….silence. A key barrier to successful adoption of any tool or app is ease of use. A tool can tick all your boxes. But, if it’s too complex for everyday users successful adoption is unlikely. If you can, get demos of the tools in action. Better yet, a no risk trial – try before you buy. Get the team members who’ll be eventual super users championing the tool before you even part with any cash and you’ll find adoption is much quicker and more effective.
5. Get a feel for the level of customer service offered
If you’re investing time and money in a tool that you want to be by your side for the long haul, then it’s fair to expect a high level of customer service. Even if the tool is easy to use, sometimes issues do crop up or you might have feedback around further development. So, without a crystal ball how can you discover the type of customer service offered by the brands you’re reviewing?
Taking a step back and reflecting on your own experience throughout the sales process is a great way to get insight here. Think about the interactions you’ve had along the sales journey. Have your questions been answered knowledgeably? Has communication been timely? Have the sales and product people made an effort to understand your business, pain points and specific needs? This is a big one – if the company wants to know more about you from the outset they’re less likely to be offering a cookie cutter customer service approach. Instead, they’re more likely to be a company that puts the customer at the centre of what they do and how they act.
6. Establish costs – upfront and recurring
This should be easy to work out. If it’s not then it’s a bit of a red flag. A simple review of pricing published on the websites of tools you’re reviewing or through proposals received directly should give you the info you need. Make sure you compare base subscription costs, any add-on fees and what you’re getting for your money from each tool.
7. Take a look at reviews
A simple search of online review sites like Software Advice, Capterra or GetApp will give you a better idea of what current or former users think. As with all types of reviews, it’s good to take things with a grain of salt. Look at the overall rating, general feeling people have toward the brand, and how the company itself responds to reviews. This will give a more holistic view of what customers really think, rather than focusing too much on one or two specific reviews.
Case studies or testimonials the tools promote themselves are also a good way to see what actual users think. Take a look at the themes of what they say – do they speak highly about the customer service received or mention easy implementation? These help to build a picture of what each tool excels at and if it’s going to work well with your business and pain points.
If CreditorWatch Collect does end up on your list of AR automation tools to assess, we’d love to have a chat or give you a demo. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses worldwide put their AR on autopilot and reap the benefits of a smart receivables process. We’d love to do the same with you.