Avolent Inc.'s update of its core BizCast product, Version 6.0, brings to market a series of new functionalities you would expect for electronic billing and cash flow optimization. The system can help streamline all A/R interactions between a company and its customers–including invoicing, collections, payment processing and reconciliations–putting more power to track cash into the hands of CFOs. It also includes something finance departments may find unique and highly desirable: a new way to control their company's inbound cash flows by negotiating intelligent changes in payment terms with customers.

The new module, called Trade Terms Management, creates a centrally managed database of customer payment terms, such as trade discounts for early payment and interest penalties for late ones, as well as customer histories. With it, a finance team can offer customers advantageous changes to their electronic invoice payment terms in real time, based on their company's short-term cash needs. "An electronic billing system allows you to change [trade terms] at a moment's notice," says Scott Dunlap, vice president of marketing at Avolent. "We can model what kind of trade discount you would have to offer to get [a customer] to pay that day."

The new release also contains more powerful cash management functions, including updated forecasting and customer profiling analytics, to help finance executives better predict inbound cash flows. Its Customer Profiler function tracks the financial history of customers, including payment record and past due balances. It also analyzes such things as how industry seasonality, cyclicality or the size of an invoice can trigger changes in payments. "Large multinationals continue to struggle with liquidity management," says Penny Gillespie, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. She considers BizCast 6.0′s correlation between invoicing and the ability to influence cash flows a real advance. "Just as we had just-in-time manufacturing, now we are moving toward just-in-time payment."

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