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Manufacturing Company uses new Credit Control System to clear backlog of debts

Overview

Customer

Scottish based, UK wide manufacturer.

Business Problem

More efficient credit control required.

Exmos Solution

Develop system for sending credit control letters based on MRP system data.

Tools used

  • MRP System
  • DataEase
  • C
  • Batch files

Benefits

  • Improved payment of debts by customers
  • Reduced credit control effort
  • More efficient credit control

Business Problem

This manufacturing company had a sizeable outstanding debtors ledger. Their credit controller was tasked with chasing the larger debts, as might be expected. This was to the detriment of the smaller debts, which unfortunately in total amounted to a sizeable value. However, the benefit in recovering each of these smaller debts was very small compared to the larger ones. They were only significant when reviewed in total.

Their request was to develop a solution for producing credit control letters for these smaller debts. These letters would be issued automatically to a schedule, with the wording increasing in severity with each run. Customer responses to each letter were logged against the customer record and this would in turn influence the frequency and type of letter they received. In order to keep costs down, the letters were to be printed on plain A4 paper with the company's letter head and legal information printed at the same time as the letter. This would also help where a continuation page was required and could not be handled by a single bin laser printer.

The sales/debtor data was held in the customer's MRP system and although it had a reporting capability, it was very basic and nowhere near sophisticated enough to manage this sort of task. Unfortunately it also had a proprietary database and very limited data export capabilities.

The Solution

The solution involved a number of separate processes/applications in order to keep the operation of the system as streamlined as possible.

Data Export

The MRP system provided the credit control system with two sets of data - customer records and unpaid invoices.

A mechanism was created to allow a PC to be rebooted into a holding configuration. This was run at the end of each day. The computer would then sit until during the night at which point it would automate two extracts from the MRP system (due to limitations on the amount of data per record that could be exported). A custom application then stitched the two files together into a single CSV file, ready for import into the database.

Data Import

At the end of the data export, the import process was triggered. This would load any new/amended customer records and then the current set of unpaid invoices.

Debt Analysis

Once the import was complete, the system would age the unpaid invoices. Based on this, plus the latest status information that had been entered into the credit control system (as a result of received phone calls etc.) it would then determine which customers were due to receive a letter. Based on prior letters, it then determined which version of the wording was required.

This information was then available as a report for the credit controller to review. This was an important part of the process in order to avoid unnecessary legal letters to customers where it was deemed inappropriate. For example, this might be as a result of ongoing sales negotiations. The system also allowed customer records to be flagged as exempt from this type of communication.

Letter Production

Once the credit controller decided it was time to run the letters, it was a simple case of selecting the appropriate menu option within the system. The application would download the appropriate images into the laser printer (for the company letter head/logo) and then proceeded to produce the letters. The letters also contained a mini statement within the body of the letter. Due to all of the letters bring produced on stock A4 paper, the whole printing process ran unattended. Window envelopes were used to avoid the need to print labels or handwrite envelopes.

Customer Benefit

The customer started reaping the benefit of this system almost immediately. A number of their customers had been sitting on small debts (some unknowingly, some otherwise) and after receiving one or two credit control letters, elected to pay the outstanding balances. In some cases, issues which had been disputed and become stale (due to lack of resource to continue chasing them) were brought back to life and to a conclusion.

Within a few months the return on the investment of the application was realised and the company then had an efficient mechanism to chase a large number of small debts on an ongoing basis.

Tools Used

  • DOS based MRP system running on Novell Netware
  • Various DOS based utilities for scripting/batch file production
  • DataEase (DOS) as the application database
  • C for the export file stitching and laser printer image/logo downloading
  • Developed in 1991