I recently re-read George Orwell’s classic novel 1984. One of the predominant themes relates to the irony of words that say one thing and in reality describe the opposite. The main character, Winston is bombarded with double speak, the War Department becomes the Ministry of Peace, ignorance is strength, oldspeak becomes illegal.
No, this article is not a political commentary but doublespeak lives. It is very relevant to the role a credit professional plays within corporate America today. We are now experiencing what is called a "jobless recovery" In oldspeak what that really means is that as workload picks up we all will be asked to do more with a smaller staff. As a company’s business increases headcount will probably not be added to meet the workload that results. Expectations will remain high and the demand for speed of information and decision making will increase.
Working productively is more relevant in a "jobless recovery" than ever before. The CMA can provide credit professionals with tools and services to overcome these ever-increasing demands on our time. It all starts with an understanding of what is available.
Group services: Preparing for and leaving the office to attend a group meeting takes time. However, the information gathered from our peers is invaluable. The anscers group services have been designed to simplify the trade interchange process. Participants now have immediate access through the Request for Information (RFI) process to trade experience.
Face to face familiarity with your peers also opens up the opportunity to obtain information on successful approaches to business issues. Who has the time to research best practices and benchmark industry performance? Group members share information on the state of their business and how best to conduct business. CMA trade groups provide a resource for a quick education. This can easily make you the expert in your company, with minimal time invested.
Trade Credit Reports: The CMA provides credit professionals with timely reports and analysis from D&B, Experian, Factual Data, Skyminder International Reports and anscers Business Credit Reports with trade data from the 80 CMA Trade Credit Groups. No contracts are required and you get the best available pricing. The CMA can also help you to define the best source for the information needed among the choices and carve out the specific data needed. This can significantly reduce the cost of reports.
Community Bulletin Board: Your boss just asked you a question and you do not have a clue. Where do you go quickly to find out how other credit professionals in various industries handle the problem? How do you get advice on where to focus your research? The CMA’s community Bulletin Board gives you access, over the web, to experts and practitioners who are ready and able to help a fellow credit professional. Currently over 400 credit professionals participate in the Community Bulletin Board.
Just take a look at the open topics being discussed on the anscers.com website. There is also a continuously growing archive of past topics and responses for your reference.
Encyclopedia of Credit: This is another quick resource for topical information, sample forms and source materials. The Encyclopedia is a free resource, covering a wide range of credit, collections, legal, banking and even customs and freight topics.
Construction Lien Services: The administrative burden related to construction liens can be overwhelming to a small staff. The filing of preliminary notices and performing mechanic lien related research, recording, releasing and claims is a daily effort that might be better outsourced.
The CMA provides these services reliably at a reasonable cost. Time you or your staff now takes to handle these activities internally, can be re-deployed to collection efforts and credit risk management.
Collections: Like Kenny Rogers says’ you gotta know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em. Many credit managers have the inclination to work accounts for too long a time before referral to a collection agency. The CMA collections division can work with you to determine the optimal approach and timing of referrals. Internal collectors can focus on collections from critical customers and be more available to address disputes and deductions proactively.
The web based referral and tracking offered by CMA is available 24-7. This simplifies the referral process and keeps you up to date on collection progress. In a world where many collection agencies exist, the CMA provides a trustworthy, cost effective alternative.
Education: It is difficult to justify leaving the office and paying a high price for a seminar. As credit and collection departments become smaller in relation to workload, just having adequate backup is an issue. To be effective credit professionals need to be well informed. The difficulty is how to do this and meet the increasing workload pressure in a "jobless recovery"
The CMA brings education to your office through Webinar programs. For a reasonable cost, the entire staff can sit in one office or conference room with a speakerphone and a monitor and take full advantage of experts presenting relevant topics and professional training.
CMA Staff Experts: Isolation is one of the biggest obstacles facing credit professionals as staffs shrink and responsibilities become broaden. You are expected to be the expert and there is no one to turn to in your company. In addition to all the resources highlighted above, the CMA staff is always ready to help and provide the knowledge of years of specialized experience in all areas affecting credit and collections management. Tap into this resource for quick and qualified answers to your day to day issues. This too will save you time and help you become the internal expert you are expected to be.
The "jobless recovery" is and will be a major challenge for all of us. The trick is to be more productive, focus on what is really important and to know where to go for qualified information with minimal effort. Your association is there to help. This will put you in the ranks of the recovering and not the jobless.