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Collection process automation: Touchless email reminders to customer and Automatic collection task creation

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Hitachi Solutions > Blog > 2021 > 03 > Collection process automation: Touchless email reminders to customer and Automatic collection task creation

With the current release from Microsoft, customers now have access to a suite of Collection process automation features aimed at increasing collections agent’s productivity, through eliminating time previously spent researching customer aged balances, open customer invoices and customer accounts. The collection manager can define a standardised workflow for agents and automatically create their tasks.

This new feature has been available for download starting from November 6th 2020.

Enabling collection process automation feature

By default, new features such as the collection process automation feature, are turned off. However, they can be turned on through the Feature management workspace.

The collection process automation feature is available in any version from 10.1.14 in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. On the Feature Management workspace, this feature can be easily identified through filtering the available features by the module Credit and Collections. Furthermore, to enable the said feature, the “Enable Now” button that appears in the details pane should be selected.

Once enabled users will have available in the Credit and Collections module two new tabs “Collections process setup” and “Process automation”.

Parameters

Accounts Receivable > Setup > Accounts Receivable

The parameters configuration of the Collection process automation functionality can be accessed by navigating through the mentioned path and accessing the collection process automation Tab. Below, the two most relevant collections process automation parameters are highlighted.

  • Percentage of customers per batch task defines the percentage of customers to be processed per batch task, meaning that when running the process automation and if the customer percentage is set to 10 percent, each batch task will only contain 10 percent of the total number of customers to send emails.
  • Post collection letters automatically allow automatic posting to the Ledger of the collection letter generated through the automatic collection process.
  • Create activities for automation option, allows for the creation (and automatic closing) of collection activities for the ‘Email’ and ‘Collection letter’ action types, allowing for the tracking of all collection process activities of customers.
  • Days to keep collections process automation history defines the number of days the system will maintain the historical records of the created activities.
  • Exclude invoice after activating last process step determines that if the process automation will stop after an invoice reaches the last step of the process or, alternatively, if process automation steps will continue to run for the next oldest invoice.

Collections process setup

Credit and collections > Setup > Collections process setup

  1. Process hierarchy

The collections process hierarchy determines which process will be used for the company’s different customers.

When setting up the collections process hierarchy, a customer pool needs to be assigned to a collections process name. Customer pools define a group of customer records as queries that can be displayed and managed for collections or ageing processes, segregating customers, for example, by size, region, name or even agent pools. As such, customer pools are a mandatory requirement for collection process automation and can be configured, following the path:

Credit and collections > Setup > Customer pools

Additionally, the different collections processes are assigned to a specific rank in the process hierarchy, so that if customers are to fall into multiple pools (and consequently multiple collection processes), whichever collection process has the higher rank in the hierarchy will be the one applicable to said customer.

On the process hierarchy, it can also be defined as the number of quiet days of the process and exclude customers or invoices from the collection process:  

  • The Quiet days' field acts as a cooldown, defining the number of days between two different actions.
  • The Exclude from process and Amount fields allow the user to determine which criteria will be applied as a filter to the selected customer pool: the user must select if the Customer pool will be filtered at all (None) or if a threshold based on the Amount field will be established for the Customer ageing balance (Customer ageing balance less than) or for the Invoice amount (Invoice amount less than).

For example, if a threshold of 2,000.00 USD is established for Customer ageing balances, all customers that have an ageing balance lower than 2,000.00 USD will be excluded from the collection process automation.

  1. Process details

The process details section defines in detail the strategy for customer engagement for the different customer pools present in our process hierarchy. 

Regarding the customer engagement strategy for collections, there are 3 different actions (action types) that can be established: Email, Collection letters and Activity. Additionally, for each new step of the collections process, the fields When and Days in relation to invoice due date will define the date in which the Action will take place.

  • 2.1 Email:

Send automatic email reminders to customers, in accordance to the email template established in the ‘Business document email template details’ fast tab.

When selecting a process step of the action type ‘Email’, it is important to take into consideration the fields ‘Recipient’ and ‘Business purpose to contact’, which will determine the email address which will be the recipient of the reminder. For example, if the recipient selected is ‘Customer’ with the business purpose contact ‘Invoice’, the system will retrieve the email address from the Customer Master, with the assigned purpose of ‘Invoice’.

In the ‘Business document email template details’, the email template to be sent to the customers is specified, in addition to the sender of the email. The email template itself is composed by the Subject of the email and the email Body.

Multiple translations can be set up for each email template in the Business document email template fast tab. Consequently, the system will identify the language defined for the Recipient and send the corresponding email template. For example, if the recipient selected is ‘Customer’, the system will analyse the Language field in the Customer Master and send the email template defined in that language. If no matching translation is available, a blank e-mail will be sent to the Recipient.

  • 2.2 Collection letter

Automatically create collection letters on overdue customer balances. At this point, collection letters will also be posted to the Ledger if the Post collection letters automatically option is enabled in the Accounts Receivable parameters.

After this process, the created collection letters will be ready to review and send to the customers involved in the selected customer pool. To review them go to Credit and collections > Collection letter > Review and process collection letters.

  • 2.3 Activity

Create activities automatically on the internal schedule with regards to the customer invoice due date.

When the selected action type is an activity, the corresponding activity template needs to be selected on the Business document field. Alternatively, a new activity template can be created to standardize the occurrence creation on the internal calendar, on the Business document activity details fast tab. This fast tab allows users to define the activity type and specify a purpose, being even possible to define the number of days for the completion of the activity, to consequently calculate the activity end date.

Newly created activities through the collection process automation can easily be reviewed in the Customer credit and collections Workspace by sliding the view to the Collections section and selecting the Activities list

Process automation

Credit and Collections > Setup > Process automation

In the Process automation form, a new process automation series can be created after the collection process setup is concluded, so that the automation is set to run. Process automation is a shared form with System administration, allowing for the scheduling of various processes to run by the batch server.

It is important to note that for the automatic collection process to run with updated data regarding customers invoices and open balances, the aged balance needs to be up to date. As such, it would be advisable to set the periodic task of aging customer balances on a batch processing and set a recurrence consistent with the process automations that are in place for said legal entity. Age customer balances following the path:

Credit and collections > Periodic Tasks > Age customer balance

The process of creating a new process automation starts as shown below:

After selecting the schedule type and the desired company to apply it to, fill in the general form that is divided into three different columns:

  • Series: identify the name of the new series of occurrences, give it a description and specify the owner of such process
  • Scheduling: select the time on which the process is going to run. A start date is necessary for the process to start. If applicable, select an end date. As for the occurrence pattern, indicate when this process will repeat (daily, weekly, or monthly) and how often it will be repeated.
  • Alerts: specify which alerts the series owner will receive. Tick the options as desired.

On the next step of the automation process configuration, a new page opens with the collections process setup previously created, allowing users to confirm that the hierarchy to be followed is correctly set up, with all the process details listed and templates selected.

On the third and last page of the automation process configuration, it is possible to have an insight into the customers who are assigned to the selected customer pool.

Clicking on the Next button will then create the new collections process automation.

Get in touch with our experts today 

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Rute Cardoso

Rute Cardoso works as a Functional consultant of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Application. Graduated from Nova School of Business and Economics with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, after which she worked as a financial auditor for 2 years. Rute joined Hitachi Solutions Europe in September 2020 and works from the Portuguese office located in Porto.

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Author Spotlight

Rute Cardoso

Rute Cardoso works as a Functional consultant of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Application. Graduated from Nova School of Business and Economics with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, after which she worked as a financial auditor for 2 years. Rute joined Hitachi Solutions Europe in September 2020 and works from the Portuguese office located in Porto.

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