In the ever-evolving landscape of finance, Accounts Receivable (AR) is undergoing a transformative journey, emerging as a strategic player in the financial ecosystem. A recent survey conducted by Treasury Webinars on behalf of BlackLine details the current state of AR and provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
The Rising Strategic Role of Accounts Receivable
The global pandemic, changing supply-chain dynamics, and geopolitical uncertainties have propelled AR into a more strategic role. According to the survey, 77% of AR teams now capture the attention of CFOs, with 16% serving as key advisors on strategic business matters. Over the past 12-24 months, 75% of respondents reported a significant shift towards a more strategic role, suggesting a continued rise in the strategic importance of AR into 2024.
Expectations for Accounts Receivable in 2024
As expectations for AR teams continue to climb, the survey indicates that 71% of companies plan to increase the responsibilities of AR teams in 2024. Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), a key metric for AR success, is expected to increase for 55% of respondents. Inflationary environments, customer-specific dynamics, and supply-chain issues are identified as the main drivers of expected DSO changes in 2024.
Navigating Relationship Dynamics in Accounts Receivable
The survey digs into the intricacies of AR dynamics, exposing the existence of silos within AR teams. While 27% of companies acknowledge the presence of silos, 32% perceive them as a non-issue. The study identifies cash application as common in AR silos, emphasizing the need for collaboration and breaking down barriers to foster efficient communication.
Impact of Technology on AR Performance
Technology plays a pivotal role in shaping the performance of AR teams. While 70% of companies report a positive impact of technology on AR performance, the choice of technology tools varies. Business intelligence tools and spreadsheets emerge as the primary tools for measuring and managing AR performance. Notably, companies leveraging AR automation tools witness the most significant impact on performance, highlighting the potential of automation in enhancing efficiency.
Investments in People and Technology
Companies are aware of the evolving landscape and expressed a commitment to invest in both human capital and technology to empower AR teams. They consider skills such as data analytics, data management, and proficiency in emerging technologies as crucial for AR team members. In 2024, 62% of companies plan to upgrade AR-related technology, showcasing a dedication to continuous improvement.
Empowering Accounts Receivable Professionals
Despite the challenges, it is an exciting time for AR professionals. The strategic role of AR is increasing, and companies are planning to invest in resources for AR teams. 38% of companies are planning to add staff and 46% are increasing professional development opportunities. Companies are focused on upgrading both technical and soft skills. AR professionals are well-positioned for success.
The survey includes actionable recommendations for businesses hoping to optimize their AR functions. These include a thorough examination of existing processes, addressing silos, and investing in technology that promotes collaboration and decision-making.
The survey not only highlights the current state of AR but also provides valuable insights for businesses to strategically position themselves in the evolving financial landscape. By embracing technology, fostering collaboration, and investing in the skills of their AR teams, businesses can unlock the full potential of AR and drive bottom-line success.