Reducing Bad Debt with CreditForce: an interview with Simon Brocksom, Finance Manager, Walker Morris
Walker Morris is a Top 100 UK Law Firm with a blue-chip client portfolio in both the UK and internationally, that services a broad range of sectors. The firm generates over £42 million in turnover per annum and has over 450 staff, including 47 partners.
Walker Morris decided to implement CreditForce to manage their working capital and integrate with their existing PMS system Miles33. The Firm added the CreditForce SRA RCAB (Residual Client Account Balance Management module) shortly after this was launched in 2012.
Jay Inamdar from Innovation Software sat down with Simon Brocksom the Finance Manager at Walker Morris to discuss how the system had been performing.
Walker Morris have used CreditForce for over 9 years. What were the key factors in selecting CreditForce over other vendors?
Simon: We looked at 2 or 3 potential suppliers in detail and it was the site visit to your offices that made the difference. I was impressed by every one of the team members I was introduced to and I was free to ask any questions without any spin from salesmen. I was taken around the office and everybody was very open, which very much swung the decision for me.
Because we were going from a manual system to an automated workflow-driven process, all the potential vendors had better offerings than our current set-up. The Innovation Software system did however, look the most up-to-date and provided exactly what our Credit Control Team needed at the time.
What were the key points that drove the need for a collections system?
Simon: Our cash collections were already strong but we needed a system that gave our credit controllers:
The right tools to continue being successful and also improve performance moving forward.
In addition, we needed to improve the cash collection process, since we realised tougher market conditions were likely to make collections harder.
We therefore needed to change from manual to automated workflows to achieve this.
Did CreditForce assist in reducing your DSO? If so by how much and was it quick?
Simon: Yes, we did. It’s such a good system that we’ve managed to keep our staff numbers and overheads down to a minimum and still achieve our DSO targets. We’ve not only reduced our DSO but we’ve consistently kept it low and we’ve not had to achieve this at the cost of bringing in additional employees. Because the system is so automated, we can keep our employee numbers tight and get the maximum productivity and utilisation from our team.
Did you realise improvements in productivity?
Simon: Very quickly. Our credit controllers were enthusiastic about the system. It was tailor made for cash collections and made many of the administrative tasks less resource intensive. CreditForce gave the team more time to collect by telephone, and the ability to send out copy bills at the click of a button, which was a big plus for us.
Where have you seen the most gains in efficiency or performance?
Simon: The reduction in manual administration. For example, prior to CreditForce, if we wanted to send a client a copy bill, a member of the team had to go to the bill cabinet, find the bill, take a photocopy, then fax it to the client. When we implemented CreditForce we could this process instantly on screen – retrieving the copy of the bill and attaching it to the email from one centralised system.
These manual activities went from being a time-consuming chore, left until the end of the day, to being actioned whenever we needed to - it’s really good!
The other benefit was the ability to have automated letter templates and chasing procedures. The standard templates also came with the flexibility to adapt them for more demanding clients.
We were also able to define workflows for new clients that had no prior history with us, allowing us to set up appropriate workflows to mitigate risk for new clients until they had a payment track-record.
"I don't know how other firms cope without it to be honest."
Did CreditForce help reduce bad debts?
Simon: Yes. We were able to reduce our bad debts as the workflows drove us to taking the appropriate action at an earlier point. We had better collection workflows, faster engagement with the client and could escalate to our debt collection team sooner.
The ability to easily provide a full audit trail of the correspondence with the client to our debt collection team meant our team was more proactive in ensuring client payment and reducing our exposure to bad debts.
Innovation Software is committed to continual development of leading edge software in the legal working capital management sector. Has this benefited your Firm?
Simon: Certainly. The residual balance module we took is extremely good and was just what we needed to ensure compliance with SRA requirements.
How has SRA RCAB module assisted you with SRA compliance?
Simon: 2 things were key:
Being able to send annual letters in statement form that displayed all balances on the account.
Having full audit trails and workflows for all residual balances. When the auditors visit, they can sit down with our Cashiers, open CreditForce, choose any balance or matter they want and see what the latest status is. The full audit trail can be exported or printed in one click. I can’t imagine how other firms who don’t have this software cope.
Finally, how would you rate the support at Innovation Software?
Simon: Very good. Innovation Software always provides a professional service and look to resolve any issues as quickly as possible. The support team are very helpful.
Thank you very much Simon, for your time and feedback.