European accounting solution scoops Process Excellence award

Arthur Seidl
Posted: 07/30/2013

The captive Finance & HR shared services organization (FHS) of the Deutsche Post DHL group (DPDHL) was recently recognised for its innovative Accounting solution. The European Key Account Desk (E-KAD), a service line of FHS based in Maastricht, Netherlands, won the Process Excellence Network’s coveted PEX Award in the category Best Project Contributing to Value, Sustainability & Innovation. The E-KAD solution, which provides multinational European DPDHL customers with centralized financial services, beat out a large field of contenders for the honour. (Note: the Process Excellence Network is a sister organization to SSON.)

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Cindy Muyters, the head of the EKAD department accepting the PEX Award.

Fixing what was broken

Prior to the start of E-KAD in early 2010, each country had a different Accounts Receivable approach for its key account customers – a situation that sometimes led to inefficiency and confusion. The answer to this problem was to create a central point of contact, mirroring the organizational structure of the customer.

E-KAD currently serves 25 multinational customers for 15 European countries. Key customers are assigned a dedicated financial services expert, who develops deep knowledge of a client’s accounts payables processes, not to mention the company’s economic situation and market trends.

Measurable improvements

Since its launch, E-KAD has marked steady improvement in its Key Performance Indicators, reducing Day Sales Outstanding (DSO), improving cash flow, and decreasing bad debt provision.

Seeing the customer’s view

E-KAD approaches the accounts receivable process in a ‘customer view’ instead of ‘country view’, putting experts in a better position to solve root causes of recurring errors and to plan for the future, rather than simply reacting to issues as they crop up.

Since multinational customers are so complex, it is important that issues and problems are dealt with by someone who can judge the scope and impact of all actions involved. E-KAD can offer the expertise and proactive approach required to serve these customers and simultaneously improve their processes.

The First Choice Way is key

The success of the E-KAD approach was also enabled through following the principles of the ‘First Choice Way’, the continuous improvement approach adopted in DPDHL and FHS:

Mindset & Behavior

  • Adopting the customer view and satisfaction is the paradigm for the whole team
  • Continuous improvement is fostered through sharing and discussing issues and improvement ideas via whiteboard sessions, sit-ins, team meetings and workshops.

Organization & Skills

  • Skills matrix is used for full visibility on employees’ skills versus required skills.
  • Frequent one-to-ones ensure continuous improvement of core competencies.
  • Capacity Management tools give visibility on the demand and availability of customer/country FTEs and allow adjusting capacity when required.

Performance Management

  • End-to-end AR performance is measured and driven on performance indicators on customer level linked to employees’ individual targets.
  • Daily whiteboard sessions discuss performance KPIs, team efficiency and improvement actions

Processes

  • Standard Operating Procedures for core departmental processes as well as bespoke customer profiles.
  • Classification and measurement of Value Adding, Value Enabling & Waste time spent per FTE per day on all relevant processes.

Summary

By reducing the costs of capital, improving customer responsiveness, and motivating employees to feel they are part of a larger mission of improvement in the Group, projects such as E-KAD and other initiatives (DPDHL also made it to the short-list for the PEX Award for its Accounts Receivable Call Center Improvement Initiative, in the Best Process Improvement Project/Under 90 Days category) push the Group closer to its Strategy 2015 goals of being Investor, Provider and Employer of Choice.

Note: Do you have an outstanding story to tell? Enter SSON's Excellence Awards – now taking applications around the world.

Arthur Seidl
Posted: 07/30/2013

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