When David Gondorf, senior manager of worldwide credit and collections at Network Appliance Inc., joined the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based data storage company six years ago, one of his chief concerns was its lack of integrated collections automation. "I came on board and I couldn't [figure out] where accounts receivable (A/R) was without going to outside systems, they couldn't scale, and here we were growing at 30% [a year]," says Gondorf. The company's move to a single-instance, global ERP system from Oracle Corp. in 2003 provided some relief, but the arrival of Sarbanes-Oxley convinced executives that it was time to invest in a best-of-breed A/R solution.

Late last year, Net App installed Aceva Technologies Inc.'s revenue and receivables management solution and the company is incorporating some of the latest automated advances. The system connects 130 employees worldwide ranging from field administrators to sales directors, as well as the credit and collections teams, so an employee in sales can get up-to-the-minute information about a customer's payment track record just prior to an important sales meeting. Compliance controls and testing are also made easier via time stamp and user initialization features, and Net App is planning soon to offer a view of its Aceva system to its customers, for greater transparency when disputes arise.

The Web-based Aceva system also allows Net App to monitor customer credit lines and payments, even before payments have been received. One recent incident involved a major airline customer that was within $100,000 of its credit limit when an order was placed for $200,000. An instant alert was issued to Net App's credit office. Even more important, the system had alerted a collections person days earlier that the customer was close to its limit, which led to a call in which a check number, or promise to pay, was received and recorded into the Aceva system. So rather than hold up the new order, or issue it blindly, the sale went through quickly, but with the confidence that a new payment was on its way. "That gains us business we're not losing to somebody else," says Gondorf.

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