Stock illustration: Businessman lifting weightsThe Hackett Group’s “Rapid Cash Release Framework,” below, consists of three phases: optimizing cash visibility, defining the targets, and executing the plan.

Each phase should take approximately two weeks. Thus, the framework represents a six-week program for rapidly releasing cash tied up in working capital and maximizing current credit and financing opportunities.

Baseline position—cash visibility

Goal: Collect transactional data to benchmark against peers, and measure performance of the company’s payment terms in comparison with peer organizations.

  • Review and assess interest rate impacts, including adjustment to cash vs. cost strategy.
  • Benchmark terms by supplier spend and customer category to measure performance.
  • Review customer and supplier risk profiles/creditworthiness.
  • Perform segmentation across payables, receivables, and inventory.
  • Conduct rapid inventory review (e.g., excess inventories by stock-keeping unit—SKU—and slow-moving and obsolete inventories).

Map and gap—define the targets

Goal: Identify priority payments and critical suppliers, customers, and drivers. In other words, map the leverage within your financial supply chains.

  • Evaluate your debt, assess your capital structure, and model different financing/interest rate scenarios.
  • Map the prospective impacts of available financing solutions (e.g., debt factoring) and supply-chain finance options.
  • Evaluate credit terms, and negotiate the best terms that are also reasonable enough to not severely impact your trading partners.
  • Map business-critical suppliers that should receive priority in accounts payable (A/P) workflows.
  • Quantify the impacts of inventory factors on cash flows, including inflated buffer stocks, demand plan errors, and slow-moving inventories.
  • Model the immediate tradeoffs and possible negotiation tactics that could accelerate payments across your accounts receivable (A/R) portfolio.

Execute the plan—pull the levers

Goal: Launch a cross-functional team to execute near-term and midterm cash conversion cycle goals.

  • Launch teams to halt terms leakage, and to accelerate resolution of high-value unbilled receivables and invoice disputes to drive immediate payment.
  • Accelerate funding and liquidity products to achieve strategic goals.
  • Develop a daily forecast and visibility by understanding variance analysis across business line/product by geography.
  • Establish a team rhythm for continuously monitoring A/R, A/P, and inventory metrics.

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