Technology and Structure: The Keys to Optimizing Billing and AR Teams
Guest Post by Sarah McCauley, Director, Billing and AR at GitLab
When I joined GitLab, the goal was to create a solid foundation for a globally distributed billing and accounts receivable team that was scalable for the long term. A lot of companies tend to just plug inefficient processes with more people, but we chose instead to lean into system optimization. As a result, today we efficiently handle 1,300 to 1,400 invoices per week across more than 900 accounts.
For any billing and AR manager who is looking to create double or triple capacity without increasing headcount by that same multiple, here’s my advice.
Create Departmental Structure
Billing accuracy is always important, but especially in a SaaS environment like GitLab where there is high volume and velocity. To avoid errors, the billing team needs to be singularly focused on issuing invoices as scheduled — a goal we achieved in three ways:
· Creating a distinct AR team to handle all collections
· Developing a checklist that aligns with company/business expectations, to ensure invoice accuracy by defining clear expectations
· Implementing a reconciliation process that re-confirms the accuracy of sent invoices three times a week so that errors don’t cause payment delays
Embracing technology not only speeds up manual processes but also enables team members to learn and engage in more professionally satisfying work and to be highly self-sufficient. Our tech stack includes Zuora for billing and Tesorio for collections, both of which sync to Salesforce, our CRM platform.
In addition, we use these technologies to measure everything. For example, on Mondays, I pull the prior week’s data and analyze our forecast goal-to-actual. If we miss or overshoot our forecast, I have the metrics to identify why and appropriately course correct.
Given the high volume of invoices we send out every week, collections could easily overwhelm the AR team. We avoid that by setting weekly goals to make the process more digestible for individual collectors. Additionally, we use a prioritization schedule that structures collections into three working categories:
· Yellow: Everything due this week
· Orange: Everything due last week
· Blue: Everything billed in the prior week
This ensures that we identify any issues that could cause a lapsed payment before it happens.
Build Team Confidence
By reducing manual processes, we’ve decreased the number of hours that team members spend on core functional responsibilities from 45 to 30. This opens up an additional 10 hours a week for team members to do the following:
· Support more complex deals, which enables them to grow professionally
· Document our processes, which helps them to learn to apply concepts to multiple scenarios
For example, my team members have learned how to use the forecast model. Because of this, when one of our collectors recently noticed that a $1.6 million invoice was going to lapse, they made up for it by collecting on four past-due invoices that bridged that gap, ensuring we met our forecast.
No one pays attention to the billing or AR teams until there’s a problem. I’ve learned to make up for this disadvantage by creating meaningful metrics that create visibility for my teams and celebrating when we meet or exceed them. This keeps everyone motivated and reduces turnover, making life as a manager much easier.
Want to learn more optimizing tips from Sarah? Listen to Coffee, Collections, and Cash Flow with GitLab.