Cisco Systems had 29%--far too many--of its sales orders going on credit hold because credit limits were being applied to a specific bill-to address, not the ultimate economic buyer, which may have exhausted its credit under one address but often had plenty of available credit under a different address. The result was delayed orders, grumpy customers and sagging productivity as a result of a lot of manual intervention.
So the credit pros at San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco embarked on a two-stage project to fix the problem. The first step was to modify the ERP system to apply credit orders to the consolidated availability of the parent company, not the bill-to entity. "This allowed us to reduce customer credit limits from over 10,000 to under 2,000," reports Tom Braida, director of global credit.
The second step was to install an automated, integrated credit review system, eCredit from Cortera. "We were able to enhance our controls by converting from virtually all manual-and-detect type of controls to having exclusively automated-and-prevent type of controls," says Warren Harber, director of quote-to-cash finance at Cisco.
The new credit system allowed Cisco credit analysts to automatically upload customers' financials, run bureau reports, upload ratings and credit scores, pull live customer accounts receivable data from the ERP system, route credit reviews for approval and manage by exception, thanks to flexible, rules-based credit decisioning.
Three months after implementation, Cisco had cut unnecessary credit holds by 25%, and after six months, by 43%. Within four weeks, the number of completed credit reviews was up 197%, thanks to improved productivity associated with the eCredit system. So far, Cisco has automated 24% of its completed credit reviews and hopes to reach 35%, Braida reports. Altogether, the project has saved Cisco more than $1 million annually, the cash value of time that is no longer wasted, Braida estimates. "We can now focus on the more challenging credit issues associated with higher risk accounts."