Saeij Onguard marieke

As economies restart following global lockdowns caused by Coronavirus, cashflow will be vital for many businesses.

The finance industry faces a delicate balancing act; long-term growth will depend on answering the funding requirements of customers who need finance, but payments need to resume from current customers emerging from a payment freeze, who may need ongoing help in the face of the ongoing business disruption caused by the pandemic.

Executives at Onguard, the fintech specialising in the order to cash payment process, believe their business has a critical role to play in helping the industry return to normal by driving the cashflow that will support future growth.

Over the past 25 years, Onguard has grown from specialising in credit management software to providing a wide range of order-to-cash solutions, including cloud-based services.

Its platform ensures that all processes are linked so that critical data can be shared easily.

It currently has more than 750 customers using its systems in 50 countries, managing 16 million invoices annually and helping oversee processes including dunning and collections.

Its customers include Aon, Avis, BNP Paribas, Lloyds Bank, Scania, and BMW Financial Services.

BMW Financial Services chose Onguard to help structure to the company’s credit risk management policies, with customers allocated a dedicated credit manager. The use of Onguard to manage BMW Financial Services’ credit risk management strategy was tested in the Netherlands before being adopted worldwide.

Last year, Marieke Saeij was appointed as Onguard’s new chief executive officer, with a focus on international growth and expanding the platform by integrating best-in-class services from specialist partners, including artificial intelligence experts.

She said: “Developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation mean that routine administrative tasks will be automated, and while people will still be needed, it won’t be for those roles that machines can do perfectly 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This evolution to automation will drive a higher importance for personal interaction, driven by customer demand.”

She argues that finance professionals will use their personal communication skills to improve relationship management and focus on adding value to businesses in areas such as analysis.

Data will play a critical role in managing risk in the post-Coronavirus environment, as finance companies look to pinpoint emerging issues quickly.

Recent research by Onguard has found that data-driven business operations are a focus for two-thirds of finance professionals.

Only 7% of executives think their own organisation is already data-driven, while 14% think they will achieve this within a year, with the majority achieving the goal after two years.

The biggest challenge facing companies is turning the wealth of business data available into a comprehensive and coherent picture.

Saeij argues that this is where Onguard excels, presenting clear insights using data from a carefully selected community of partners that provide specialist services through its platform.

Its research also identified an additional challenge, as companies lack expertise in data processes and analysis that have rapidly become a critical a part of their business as old assumptions about credit risk are challenged in the reshaped post-COVID-19 economic landscape.

Saeij said: “Data-driven finance departments are the future. Data-driven organisations make better decisions, get ahead of competitors, and have more satisfied customers. Based on insights gained from data, customer interactions can be personalised and there is room for innovation.

“Furthermore, becoming data-driven will increase efficiency and provide the insight needed to lower the Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) and improve the cash flow.”

Onguard recently appointed Luc Godfroid as international business development executive to focus on partner channels. His previous roles include advisory and strategic positions at Dun & Bradstreet.

Its growth will be supported by a new ownership structure after Onguard was bought by business solutions provider Visma.

The acquisition adds to Visma’s financial management, HR management, procurement, and other cloud solutions, with brands including Visma Connect, Visma Raet, ProActive, Visma Idella, PinkWeb, HR2day, Dotweb, VerzuimSignaal, PlusPort, Circle Software, and Visma Roxit.

Saeij said: “We are very pleased to continue to develop our business within the Visma group. Visma’s international presence and breadth of product offerings will help us to enhance our platform further, provide new possibilities for our customers and employees, and meet our growth targets.”

 

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