Part 1 – Smarter accounts receivables collection strategy improves collection rate by more than 15% and reduce delinquency rate by 50%

IBM RapidScan AssessmentIs your collection operation benchmarking with the best in the industry?

Most organizations have been able to drive process efficiency and cost reduction by centralizing and/or outsourcing operation. But, significant gaps exist in achieving optimal process effectiveness. According to the CFO insights from the Global C-suite Study, Value Integrators consistently outperform. They excel in two key areas: finance efficiency and business insight. They are effective at integrating enterprise-wide information, continuously improving processes and develop talent that partner with the business to drive integrated planning and forecasting, scenario planning and predictive modeling capabilities.

Commonly observed gap in accounts receivables collection process is the limited use of technology and analytics for decisions making, leading to lost opportunities to generate more cash. Conventional accounts receivables collection strategy for most organizations is based on the following:

  • Execution focus, driven by cash collection targets
  • Customers and invoices with higher value of outstanding targeted
  • Dedicated collections practitioners aligned by customers
  • One size fits all approach from a frequency and communication channel perspective

Conventional methodology has numerous flaws

  • Collector’s discussion with customers is at overall balance level, potentially ignoring invoice level issues which might impact likelihood of payment
  • Significant volume of low value invoices is ignored. Neglect and lack of regular follow-up leads to delinquency and write-offs
  • High dependency on people as source of knowledge about customer is not institutionalized. Contact strategy is not standardized across collectors, adding a lot of subjectivity to the process and sub-optimal outcomes
  • High cost of managing collections process and customer dissatisfaction

A smarter collection strategy takes into account end to end collection process, generating insights from past customer behavior including payment pattern, claims, deductions and judging the credit risk associated at a customer level. The smarter strategy enable organizations to

  • Develop risk model at an invoice level which could be rolled up to a customer / segment level and enable organizations to assess overall credit risk, payment behavior and identify high risk customers
  • Collection contact strategy leverages inputs from risk models to design effective communication strategy including optimal channel and frequency required to maximize cash collections. The strategy also eliminates the individual bias in how a customer with an outstanding receivables should be managed
  • Periodic strategy refinement based on recent data not only enables short term reduction in delinquency rate, but also drives change in customer payment behavior
  • By using a combination of risk based prioritization and optimal communication strategy, organizations can drive increased effectiveness in collection process and reduce operation cost

Multiple IBM clients across industries and regions have been able to reduce accounts receivables delinquency rate and improve cash flow through smarter collection strategy.

Write to kamalesh.rao@us.ibm.com to conduct an IBM RapidScan Assessment. The assessment help you identify key opportunities, with recommendation for improvement by benchmarking your collection processes with the best in the industry.

Click here to know more about IBM business process outsourcing for Order to Cash

Are you one of the 71% moving your HR to the Cloud?

Do you feel like you’re hearing “cloud computing” and its synonym software-as-a-service nonstop these days? It’s not your imagination. It’s the 71 percent.

If you’re a CHRO, VP of Talent Acquisition or general HR buyer who hasn’t already migrated to the cloud or is seriously considering the option now, you may be surprised at how many organizations will most likely adopt cloud-based HR and how soon. According to a 2014 survey by Information Services Group (ISG), 71 percent of organizations will adopt cloud computing for HR – for example SAP SuccessFactors, Workday or Oracle Fusion — within two years. And based on what we’re seeing one year out from the ISG survey, that estimate may actually be higher.

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Why is the ground shifting under our feet so fast?

There are many drivers for moving HR to the cloud (also known as HR business-process-as-a-service or BPaaS), including:

  • Business process transformation
  • Lower cost of ownership
  • Faster technology innovation (for example taking advantage of faster release cycles)
  • Ability to integrate mobility
  • Maximize ROI on implementation

How IBM can help 

Assuming your organization is one of the 71 percent in the ISG study, what’s your plan to benefit from the cloud? While there are multiple, obvious advantages, including greater cost effectiveness and business agility, moving to the cloud and maximizing ROI can be a complex endeavor that you don’t want to leave to chance. You must have a solid plan not only for migration and implementation, but for continuing to reap savings and maximize ROI well into the future as HR BPaaS needs and capabilities evolve. You’ll want seasoned HR services experts in your corner who can also help you up your game with other disruptive technologies that go hand-in-hand with cloud, including analytics, mobile and social capabilities that the business and your workforce will increasingly demand.  

The IBM HR Services for Cloud offering provides ongoing HR services to employees and managers on SaaS platforms including SuccessFactors, Workday and Oracle Fusion.

We do not replace the vendor who implemented your SaaS platform. Instead we enhance your long-term results, providing ongoing managed services to help you deliver the business outcomes your organization requires. For example we can show you how to use analytics-enabled insights to deliver operational efficiencies and enable a Smarter Workforce.

The IBM HR Services for Cloud solution is helping clients:

  • Maximize returns and insights from their HR SaaS investments
  • Reduce operational and administration costs
  • Improve employee and manager self-service
  • Make better informed HR decisions through expert analytic insights
  • Increase business agility
  • Improve deployment flexibility, scalability and committed outcomes
  • Enhance data security

No matter your industry, we can help you maximize the benefits of cloud. For example, we provide multiprocess HR services that include employee data management, payroll and learning administration services for a client’s 25,000 employees across 10 countries. Benefits that our clients in Consumer Goods, Automotive, Engineering and other industries are realizing include:

  • Experienced, scalable resources available on demand to assist with complex transactions and fluctuations in client support requirements
  • Lower costs of service with lower volumes than the traditional ERP model
  • Better business decisions for improved outcomes via analytics and reporting coupled with cost-effective compliance services, greater accountability, and general HR efficiencies

Need to see an example of what IBM can do? After strategizing a phased global rollout of Workday for a global beauty supplier, we’re now helping support the client’s day-to-day HR services needs in addition to assisting them with longer-term strategies to sustain their ROI and evaluate future capabilities the platform may offer. You can read the details here.

If you plan on joining the 71%, we can help. For more information on our HR Services for Cloud, contact us at hro@us.ibm.com. We welcome your comments and questions below, too.

Transforming revenue cycle management can be simpler, faster and inexpensive

Embedding technology enablers, analytics and process improvement into revenue cycle processes improve the financial performance while reducing cost of RCM operations by as much as 30%-70%

The revenue cycle management (RCM) process for healthcare providers is complex, and inefficiencies exist across activities like insurance verification, billing, cash collections or denials management. With increase in co-pays, audits and scrutiny of claims, the inefficiencies of the process are beginning to eat into the profitability and financial well-being of several healthcare providers.

1110x464_Image Blog Chart 1_72dpiHaving reviewed healthcare clients’ payor denial data over five years, we found 40%-70% of issues exist around the front-end benefit verification and documentation processes. Another 20% is caused in the way the billing process is implemented and barely 10%-20% fall in post billing collections life-cycle.

1110x696_Image Blog Chart 2_UPDATED_72dpiChart 1: Reasons for claims denial

On the patient co-pay end, there are often two reasons that drive almost 80% of process inefficiencies. The first is the lack of understanding of the patient obligation early in the billing life-cycle and the other is the delay between the actual service delivery and the billing or reimbursement request. Patients are often puzzled when they receive their bills and since the actual date is far gone, the patient does not have a high motivation to address the billing immediately.

There is often a temptation to engage in a significant technology transformation project (aka, let’s get a new system) to address these issues. This may involve changing the core billing system and tightening the processes around the new system. Unfortunately, in a landscape of over 400 EHR vendors with limited end-to-end capabilities, only a few technology solutions can address most of the critical issues around RCM life-cycle. Despite the additional time needed to realize the benefit of technology transformation, the very dynamic nature of the industry (for example regulatory change, new innovation, adoption of new standards by payors) also increases the time to benefit. We often find that providers come out with a solution after 18 months which brings them from a five year gap to a two year gap but never closes in.

In our experience, an approach which adopts agile principles and focuses on incremental change within the current technology environment yield better results at half the cost and time duration. Here are some recommendations to make such changes happen.

Adopt workflow solution that knits the front-end activities with back-end operation

While most billing systems have rudimentary workflow capabilities, their primary purpose is to support billing transactions only. The limitations caused by the basic nature of the workflow which coordinate transaction between the insurance eligibility and pre-authorization, the post service document requirements and the billing process become stark, given the urgency of the front-end processes and the nature of requirements across the payor spectrum. A workflow that takes into consideration the various payor rules increases the first time billing accuracy.

Embed analytics tied to the overall process improvement life-cycle

Given the dynamic nature of the industry, we have found that what worked six months ago may not work today. A closer analysis of denial data will show that while aggregates continue to be fairly static, at a payor level, there is significant variance. It is important to link the changes that we see at a payor level to the front-end processes. Changes in payor behavior should be reflected in the way provider handle insurance eligibility documentation and approvals.

Readiness to experiment and innovate to drive efficiency benefits

Several innovations around RCM solution have become obsolete within few years. We see new models of electronic claims submission (ICD-10 etc), payor portals and patient portals witnessing fast paced of change. As seen in other industries, the model of a core billing platform tied to the provider’s EHR must remain constant, but everything else must be evaluated for efficacy, on an ongoing basis.

A model that builds upon continuous improvement with the above as the core agenda will lead to significant benefits and help provide “world-class” performance without incurring both high cost and long lead time.

IBM has combined several of its offerings in healthcare industry including strategy, consulting and outsourcing, business process modeling and smarter analytics to drive towards targeted business outcomes. Click here to understand how Animas (a division of J&J) used advanced analytics to accelerate revenue cycle management.

For more information on IBM Revenue Cycle Management services, meet Jay Raju at HIMSS 2015 Conference Booth #1425 and set-up an appointment. You can call Jay at 1-609-647-1474 or write to him at jraju@us.ibm.com

Detecting fraud early in the life-cycle helps you reduce cost and avoid risk related losses

Fraud is a deliberate misrepresentation or deception intended for financial gain. Fraud is a criminal act. Abuse refers to similar action not proven to be criminal. Financial crimes include money laundering and cyber-crimes. The quantum of loss due to fraud and abuse is enormous.

Counter Fraud Images_370x464_SET BAccording to the 2014 Global Fraud Report, longer the fraud lasts within an organization, the more financial damage they tend to cause. Also fraud and financial crime carry substantial direct and hidden costs; including

  • Affects customer trust and loss of business
  • Causes reputational damage
  • Incurs costs associated with investigation
  • Impacts productivity

Fraud control measures are being overlooked by large number of organizations. However, when organizations take proactive fraud detection measures they are able to identify fraud and abuse much early and limit losses. The 2014 Global Fraud Report by Association of Certified Fraud Examiners study found that proactive data monitoring and analysis was used by only 35% of the victim organizations. It also found that presence of control measures made fraud cases 60% less costly and 50% shorter in duration.

Take steps to detect fraud early in the cycle. By deploying proactive measures to discover potential fraud and abuse, you can go a long way to reduce cost of operation and improve customer experience.

Fraud detection services such as IBM Counter Fraud Discovery Services is designed to help organization prevent and intercept new cases. The solution focuses on discovering fraud and abuse by retrospectively reviewing historical data, analyzing patterns and building watch lists to identify individuals or organizations that might be conducting such activities. It has proven accelerators; statistical and predictive models to identify suspicious and anomalous activity and help with the prioritization of investigations. Domain expertise and advanced analytics are combined to identify suspicious and anomalous transactions. Integrating these capabilities strengthen the operational processes to prevent unwanted transactions and route high risk transactions to client’s investigation team. Clients can now identify and process non-suspicious transactions much faster, aid operational cost reduction and exceed customer expectations. IBM clients have started on this journey by taking simple steps like sharing transactional data with us and receiving referrals with prioritized target list to initiate investigation.

Benefits realized by some of our clients:

  • Improved checks and controls helped a leading Telco organization identify 50 high risk cases, and initiate investigation of cases that represented approx. $700M in abuse
  • Embedded fraud analytics into transaction processing helped a global money-transfer company increase its ability to identify and interrupt potentially fraudulent transactions by 40%
  • Automated profile analysis technology helped a US based managed health care company reduce cycle time for identification and verification of questionable claims by 30% – 40%

Click here to know more about IBM Counter Fraud.

Sign-up for the one-day IBM Smarter Counter Fraud Workshop
by writing to
kamalesh.rao@us.ibm.com

This is a structured, full-day workshop where our counter-fraud experts will engage with client team to gain better understanding about their business processes, functional maturity and gaps to detect and manage fraud. Clients get a good understanding about IBM capabilities, our success stories and industry best practices including latest insights from IBM Institute of Business Value on fraud and risk management.

How to address your workforce issues for holiday seasons and periods of peak demand

The shifting business landscape of today’s retail organizations is increasing the pressure on human resources professionals. As more customers flock to online shopping, in-store revenues are declining, forcing executives to re-evaluate and streamline store operations. The retail industry currently employs over 15 million individuals of whom approximately 53% are part-time store workers and 8% are first-line supervisors (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Hidden costs of turnover: Employee turnover within retail stores can be detrimental to a company. According to a recent study by Hay Group, turnover for part-time store workers is increasing and reached 67% in 2012, a 33% increase over 2011. Not only are there substantial costs associated with the recruiting of candidates and training of new hires, but absent or inexperienced employees can have a major impact on customer service and employee morale. This in turn can affect store sales and the bottom line. A study from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council estimated that turnover for an $8/hour part-time worker costs $3,752 per worker.

Recruitment and retention within the retail industry is a costly and difficult problem and many organizations are striving to find new solutions. Several retailers are now relying on Recruitment Services to manage this process, specifically for their fluctuating or high-volume recruitment needs in stores.

There are several factors to consider when determining if this is the right solution for your company.

  • Fluctuations in hiring demand – Can your internal recruiting team achieve the hiring demands of your seasonal needs and store growth?
  • Lack of visibility & metrics – Do you have the capability to analyze metrics to make informed decisions and set your strategy?
  • High costs associated with hiring, training and turnover – Do you know all the costs associated with recruitment, training and turnover and what the impact is on your customer service and your bottom line?
  • Inconsistent process – Have you developed a process to create efficiencies in your hiring operations and lower your costs?
  • New hire quality – Is the level of quality within new hires affecting your customer service and employee morale?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, Recruitment Services might be a good option for your organization. You can overcome hiring challenges and attract and retain the right employees for your organization.

IBM’s Recruitment Services help retailers address hiring and workforce challenges in the following ways:

RPO

Whether you are looking for an end-to-end recruitment solution or services to address specific needs, IBM’s scalable recruitment services help retailers drive business outcomes. Examples of our customer successes include:

    • Reduced employee turnover by 50%
    • Reduced time-to-fill by 35%
    • Improved hiring manager satisfaction by 93%
    • Increased interview to hire ratio by 40%
    • Reduced cost per hire by 52%

For more information on our Recruitment Services or other areas of HR to help you build a Smarter Workforce, meet Jennifer  Aglira Welsh at NRF 2015  and set-up an appointment. You can call Jennifer at 610-457-9049 or write to her at jmaglira@us.ibm.com

Five ‘hotspots’ to transform telecom businesses and drive smarter operation

Hotspot 1: Cost Reduction
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Challenging economic environment and single-digit revenue growth are forcing Telco  2clients to focus on cost containment and cost reduction efforts. Increasing operational expenses (OPEX) and capital expenditure (CAPEX) further aggravate margin pressure for existing and new businesses. Communication service providers (CSPs) need to consolidate business processes, reduce cost and commit to targeted outcomes aligned to business value. Clients need to undertake certain steps to transform OSS/BSS operations to best practice operating models, build expertise in revenue and billing assurance services to identify and resolve upfront challenge of revenue leakage and fraud issues; optimise supply chain to reduce costs and unlock the value on the balance sheet to optimise cash and investments. They need access to skilled global resources and analytics experts to improve forecasting accuracy to optimise debt and cash management.

Hotspot 2: Operational Agility
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Competitive pressures from over-the-top (OTT) players force CSPs to respond and adapt quickly and cost effectively to changes in strategy, market demands, and new business models. To expand into new markets, CSPs need to improve operational flexibility and centralize back office functions to scale in and out of markets effectively and orchestrate winning service offerings effectively through standard approach. IBM is uniquely placed to collaborate with clients, reinvent business processes, offer consulting expertise aligned to eTOM framework to enrich customers’ experience, reduce cost and often reveal innovative streams of revenue.

Hotspot 3: Profitable Growth

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Revenue, profit and ARPU pressures are exacerbated by constrained credit markets, accelerated commoditization of traditional voice services, rise in data services without commensurate revenue growth and competitive pressures.

CSPs must improve working capital efficiency and free cash flow to invest in new capabilities. They need to invest in cloud, social and mobile technologies and channels to meet customer expectations and; extensively collaborate with employees and business partners. Investment in big data and analytics can help CSPs gain a consolidated view of the business, enable new services and new revenue sources to optimize capital and increase customer profitability.

Hotspot 4: Increasing Consumer Influence
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Consumers are seizing control in an environment where only 18% of people trust information from companies. Customers expect always-on service everywhere which result in high churn rates and downward pricing pressure.

With rise in power and influence of consumers, CSPs need to adopt different ways to engage digitally, improve trust and transparency. Ability to improve collaboration, personalize customer engagement, create compelling consumer experiences e.g. unbundled and on demand capabilities can help CSPs reduce customer churn and provide more relevant products and services.

Hotspot 5: Data Explosion
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Explosive growth in data usage and bandwidth puts unprecedented demand on current network capacity. If unaddressed, mobile operators will face significantly higher cost and additional network capacity required, would almost double network OPEX. CSPs need to limit the expected rise in network cost and adopt efficient ways of handling data. Two key areas of application are the use operational data to generate analytic insights to model business scenarios and develop forecasting capabilities to optimize cash and investments; and consumer data to get a deeper understanding of the consumer, undertake effective segmentation and develop better service options customized to unique needs.

Today BPO services providers like IBM and process experts are working with global CSPs’ across multiple areas and helping them:

  • Deploy order to cash analytics across the revenue assurance and credit function to reduce suspense by 15%
  • Centralize payment system and enable seamless integration to front-end systems to improve payment experience
  • Drive finance and procurement transformation to reduce cost and standardize operation across the enterprise, increasing efficiency and consistency
  • Improve learning management processes, reduce cost, and improve customer satisfaction
  • Support business needs to grow and expand by improving the time to fill positions and reduce dependencies on third party search firms

For more information, visit IBM Global Process Services –Telecom and contact our industry expert Michael Kerlin, Associate Partner IBM Europe, michaelkerlin@nl.ibm.com

Five “hotspots” to transform Travel and Transportation businesses

Hotspot 1: Importance of online channel
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  • Forget the crude upsell: airlines must do more with e-commerce – Eye for travel
  • The digital reinvention of travel: Following travelers into a radically different tomorrow –  IBM Institute of Business Value Report
  • E-Commerce drives UPS 2Q shipments up 7.2 percent, UPS 2Q EPS increases 7.1 percent – UPS

T&TTravel is the largest eCommerce category worldwide led by airline ticket sales. Social network, mobility, and search engine optimization (SEO) drive marketing and sales operations through loyalty programs, booking engines, and travel ancillaries’ services. To meet the growing demands for eCommerce services, airline and travel companies need systems and a delivery model that accelerates time-to-market, lowers cost, and improves efficiency. Cloud enabled payment check-out platform are one such solutions, travel companies should look-out for. It seamlessly integrate into web sites, mobile sites, smartphone apps, and call center tools and provides a fully localized and safe payment checkout experience with embedded fraud prevention capability.

Hotspot 2: Value from big data
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  • DHL uses big data for risk mitigation in logistics – DHL
  • How big data is transforming the travel industry – Forbes

Data and insights have become a key driver for service excellence and competitive advantage for travel & transportation (T&T) companies. Companies need to exploit data to improve operational efficiency and increase customer satisfaction to grow. For instance, the ability to:

  • Embed analytics into processes such as cash management, collections and spend management to achieve cost savings, efficiency improvements and commit to targeted business outcome
  • Apply analytics and workforce insights to attract the best talent and drive workforce performance
  • Use analytics to generate a single view of the customer, personalize marketing offers and promotions for travelers, thereby increasing customer loyalty.

Hotspot 3: Global Integration
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The operating model for travel and logistic companies is geographically distributed with strong local presence. Controlling operational costs across the network is now crucial to survive. Partnering with BPO service providers, clients are able to create a truly global service delivery model. By transforming functional operations such as finance and administration, workforce management, procurement and online commerce functions, outsourcing and shared services models help clients improve business agility and operational margins and support international business growth. BPO service providers such as IBM can commit to process transformation benefits, including:

  • Upto 10% contracted “net realized” sourcing savings
  • 25% working capital improvement
  • Upto 40% savings through consolidation, standardization and automation

Hotspot 4: Regulatory Compliance
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  • New DOT rules: A boon to passengers or a bust for the airline industry? – The Washington Post
  • 90% of acquirer’s airline business to be PCI compliant end 2015 – IATA
  • Working Time Directive and its cost implications – TNT Express

T&T companies have to comply with regulatory requirements from different countries and regions. By combining strong consulting and process outsourcing capabilities, BPO services help clients develop rigorous and standardized compliance procedures at both the global and the local business levels. This involves compliance maturity assessments, improved governance models, and enhancing internal control through regular training, functional reviews and audits, and better regulatory reporting.

Hotspot 5: Cost Reduction
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  • United Airlines aims for $2 billion in annual cost cutsThe Wall Street Journal
  • Airlines trim seat sizes, weights to boost capacity, reduce fuel costsNY Daily News
  • How can airlines reduce fuel costs? – Wired

Travel and logistics companies operate in a high-volume and low-margin business. The cyclical and seasonal nature of the business makes it crucial for companies to be more agile and sensitive to factors that impact cost of operation. Cloud delivery model, technology enabled process services, and ability to leverage global delivery centers provide T &T clients economies of scale, bring down operational costs, and optimize processes. Other benefits include improved working capital and enhanced expertise in planning and optimizing travel routes for different modes of transportation.

Start by looking closely at your current business issues:

  • Are you struggling to meet the growing demands for eCommerce services and address fraud?
  • Is your business expanding to new markets and require support to recruit top talent in local markets?
  • Is your back office functions cost effective and do they provide the core business the appropriate level of support?
  • Are your working capital levels competitive as your industry peers?
  • Is your commercial business looking to reduce cost of sales and improve margins?

Today T & T companies across airlines, shipping, online travel service providers, cruise lines, logistic service providers and hospitality companies are deriving the benefits of business process outsourcing.

For more information, visit IBM Global Process Services –Travel & Transportation and contact our industry expert Stuart Fowler, Associate Partner IBM Europe, stuart.fowler@uk.ibm.com