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  • Maximizing Cash Flow in Field Service: The Power of Automation

    Cash flow can make or break a business for field service providers. Yet, for many, a significant barrier to achieving healthy cash flow lies in the time it takes to get paid for services rendered in the field. This challenge is especially pronounced in industries like oilfield services, where customers and operators impose intricate and unique requirements for verifying work before releasing payment. These requirements can range from obtaining signatures, stamps, or coding on field tickets to attaching supporting field or delivery tickets with images, all delivered through designated portals. The Struggle of Manual Billing The manual billing process is akin to navigating treacherous waters in an age when streamlined operations are the lifeblood of success. Let's take a deeper dive into the challenges posed by manual billing and how automation offers a lifeboat to struggling businesses. Deciphering Handwritten Field Information Field service providers often find themselves grappling with handwritten field information. These notes, while valuable, can be notoriously hard to read and interpret. Translating them into an understandable format is not only time-consuming but also prone to errors. Data Entry Issues Once deciphered, the field data must be meticulously entered into internal invoicing systems. This step alone can consume countless hours, especially when dealing with a high volume of transactions. The risk of data entry errors looms large, potentially leading to invoicing discrepancies and customer disputes. Cross-Referencing Complex Agreements The complexity of customer agreements is another hurdle. Billing teams must cross-reference pricing and service agreements to ensure accurate invoicing. Any deviations from these agreements can lead to disputes and delayed payments. Crafting Invoices From Scratch Creating invoices from scratch using programs like Word or Excel is a labor-intensive process. Each invoice requires painstaking attention to detail to ensure compliance with customer-specific requirements. This manual approach not only increases the risk of errors but also consumes valuable time that could be better spent on strategic tasks. Uploading to Customer Portals Many customers and operators insist on invoices being uploaded to their designated portals. This requirement necessitates extra steps, often involving additional data entry and document management. Failing to meet these portal requirements can result in payment delays and frustrated customers. The Promise of Automation Thankfully, for most oilfield service providers, the solution lies in automating the invoice and field ticket preparation and delivery process. Despite skepticism from some quarters about the material impact of automation or concerns about the complexity of their billing processes, the reality is that automation can be a game-changer. CBSI's ofsERP® extension for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Essentials has demonstrated remarkable success in automating billing processes, from the simplest to the most intricate. Demonstrating Financial Impact In this blog post, we will dive into the financial aspects of automating the invoice preparation and delivery process. We'll prove that shaving days off this process can lead to a tangible increase in cash on hand. We will accomplish this by examining changes in the Accounts Receivable balance. Consider the following gains for your business: Reduced Operational Costs One of the immediate financial benefits of automation is a reduction in operational costs. With manual processes, you often need a larger billing team to handle the workload. Automation streamlines tasks, allowing you to allocate resources more efficiently and trim unnecessary overhead expenses. Faster Payment Collection Automation accelerates the entire invoicing and payment collection cycle. Invoices are generated quickly and accurately, and they reach your customers without delays. This efficiency translates into shorter Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) periods, meaning you get paid faster, bolstering your cash flow. Fewer Billing Disputes The accuracy and consistency offered by automation mean fewer billing disputes. When your invoices align precisely with customer agreements and expectations, there are fewer reasons for customers to dispute charges. This leads to smoother transactions and fewer delays in receiving payments. Improved Resource Allocation Automation frees up your team's time and energy, allowing them to focus on strategic activities that drive growth and innovation. With fewer hours spent on manual data entry and invoice creation, your team can engage in more value-added tasks, ultimately enhancing your competitive edge. Enhanced Forecasting and Planning The predictability and reliability of automated processes provide a solid foundation for financial forecasting and planning. With real-time access to financial data, you can make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and seize growth opportunities with confidence. Figures 1 and 2: A Closer Look Figures 1 and 2 serve as our guides, utilizing a fictitious company with $30,000,000 in annual sales, of which $28,000,000 is sold on net terms. Both figures illustrate three scenarios: reducing the invoice preparation and delivery process by 5, 15, and 25 days. Figure 1: A Financial Perspective Figure 1 showcases a financial perspective, highlighting that in an environment where the time to prepare and deliver a proper invoice can be reduced by 15 days (typical in the oilfield service industry), the Accounts Receivable balance decreases from $5,000,000 to $3,849,315, a credit of $1,150,685. To maintain financial balance, this credit needs an offsetting debit - which can reasonably only be the asset, cash on hand. This simplified scenario underscores a fundamental principle - that the increase in cash is indeed substantial when the invoicing process is optimized. It's not just about saving time; it's about securing financial stability and positioning the company for growth in a highly competitive industry. As we continue our exploration in this blog post, we'll uncover more insights into the practical benefits of automation and provide you with the tools you need to evaluate its impact on your own operations. In the world of field service, every day counts, and every dollar saved is a step towards a stronger, more resilient business. Figure 2: A Shortcut to Success Figure 2 unveils a powerful shortcut—a mathematical formula that simplifies the process of calculating the increase in cash flow resulting from automation. What's remarkable about this formula is that it doesn't require the intricacies of Accounts Receivable balances. Instead, it relies on a key metric—the increase in cash on hand, expressed as a percentage of sales sold on net terms. This approach streamlines the calculation, eliminating the need for complex financial inputs and allowing businesses to estimate the impact of reducing the invoice processing time with ease. By adopting this shortcut, companies can gain a rapid understanding of how automation can affect their financial health. It's not just a tool for the accounting department; it's a strategic asset that empowers decision-makers to visualize the potential benefits of automation in real terms. The Profound Impact on Cash Flow When it comes to cash flow, the numbers tell a compelling story of how automation can revolutionize your field service business. Let's dig deeper into the profound impact it has on your financial health. Shaving Days Off the Invoice Process Imagine a scenario where you reduce the processing time for invoices by 15 days, while keeping all other variables constant. This common reduction period, especially in the oilfield service industry, consistently results in a remarkable boost to cash flow. The Numbers Speak Volumes A 15-day reduction translates to an approximate 4.11% increase in cash flow, calculated as a percentage of sales made on net terms. Simply put, for every dollar of sales conducted on net terms, a 15-day reduction equates to a 4.11% surge in cash flow. It's not just a marginal improvement; it's a substantial financial transformation. But the beauty of this principle lies in its adaptability. Whether you're considering a 5-day reduction, which still yields a notable 1.37% increase, or an ambitious 25-day reduction, leading to a remarkable 6.85% cash flow boost, the message remains clear—automation has a tangible and direct impact on your bottom line. A Strategic Move for Financial Security In an industry as dynamic and competitive as field service, securing your financial future is paramount. Automation isn't just a buzzword; it's a strategic move that holds the potential to fortify your financial security in the face of unique industry challenges. More Than Efficiency: Strategic Advantage Automation transcends mere efficiency. It is the linchpin of your financial strategy, a means to safeguard your business against the uncertainty and volatility that often define field service industries. It's not just about staying current with industry trends; it's about taking charge of your financial destiny. Concrete Results, Real Benefits The impact of automation is not hypothetical; it's tangible and backed by real-world results. By embracing automation, businesses can experience significant reductions in operational costs, faster payment collection, fewer billing disputes, and improved resource allocation. These aren't just buzzwords; they are real benefits that bolster your financial security. Unlocking Your Full Financial Potential Automation isn't an accessory; it's the key to unlocking your full financial potential. It empowers you to optimize your operations, streamline your processes, and gain a competitive edge in a challenging landscape. It's a strategic move that positions you for long-term success and growth. Join the Financial Transformation So, why wait? Join the financial transformation by embracing automation. Discover how CBSI's mission-central software can empower your business. Check out our CBSI blog today to learn more about how our innovative solutions are designed for the benefit of our clientele. Don't just adapt to change; lead it. Secure your financial future with automation.

  • Microsoft Dynamics “Business Central is the Superstar.”

    MICROSOFT BUSINESS CENTRAL NEWS: At last week’s Microsoft partner conference in Orlando, Jeff Edwards, Senior Vice President Channels at Velosio announced: “Business Central is the Superstar.” He continued: “BC has the highest growth in the [Microsoft] Dynamics space” ... and it even “outgrew F&O.” “Business Central is, by far, the best product for the small to mid-market. “ It is meaningful to hear this honest perspective from a Velosio exec since they sell both Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations, (previously “F&O”). Far too often, some Microsoft people and partners still push prospective clients towards the higher priced (and less popular) Dynamics F&O because it means more revenue, or because they meet an arbitrarily set minimum number of users for an F&O implementation to be viable (e.g. 20 or 50 users.) The decision between products should no longer be based upon user count, since both products are browser-based and can handle 500+ users according to Microsoft. Many companies, including some of our clients, have well over 100 users running successfully on Business Central. They're enjoying the many reasons that give rise to its popularity, Dynamics “Superstar” designation, and its incredible value proposition vs. F&O. Dynamics 365 Business Central high-level advantages: All-in-one: Finance, CRM Sales, Marketing, Service, Supply Chain, Warehouse, & Manufacturing Ease of use, and less training time required since it’s less complex, Lower license costs A significantly greater number of available, skilled consultants, at more reasonable rates, A wealth of documentation and videos, A thriving ecosystem, Over 2,500 add-ins on AppSource, and Typically, a much faster go-live, given the same modules & features in use. Dynamics 365 F&O can be an appropriate choice for some SMB clients with highly sophisticated requirements or complex global operations. However, I believe the choice for Business Central (or not), should be based on the functionality required for the business rather than based arbitrarily on user count. Often a “F&O” feature can be added to Business Central for a minimal cost by a skilled partner, such as us (Computer Business Solutions, Inc.), and it can be designed just the way the client would like - without the complexity or ongoing higher costs of F&O. The capabilities and value prop of Dynamics 365 Business Central continue to increase in momentum as Microsoft continues to invest heavily in new user features and back-end technologies. Three new services: "Azure SQL Hyperscale", "Azure Application Insights" and "Azure Sentinel" are being added to BC to increase speed with large databases and to further identify and mitigate potential security risks by applying AI and machine learning. Microsoft also announced, that in an upcoming 2023 release of Business Central, companies on BC will be able to give their Microsoft Teams or Office (365) users full read rights to BC, without having to purchase additional BC licenses. Don't let your user count cause you to miss the opportunity to run your business on Microsoft Dynamics’s most popular product and “Superstar” - Dynamics 365 Business Central. #businesscentral #dynamics365

  • Business Central active users grows a whopping 75%, announces new 2023 features.

    Key takeaways from Microsoft's business applications partner conference, Directions 2023, April 14-19. Microsoft’s design and development team continues to rapidly expand the capabilities of Business Central. These consist of new end-user features, new back-end technologies, new native Microsoft integrations with other Dynamics products and with Shopify, Artificial Intelligence, and over 40 more new capabilities that have been released or will soon be released in 2023. My top takeaways from the conference include the following: Business Central continues to be Microsoft's most popular and highest selling ERP and is also the fastest growing, with an astonishing 75% increase in active users year-over-year. An “Analyze” button, has been added to every list page which displays the totals and subtotals for each numeric column, including custom fields. Users can apply filters, sort by groups, and the totals are recalculated to respect the filter. Views can be saved for further analysis. The result is Excel pivot table functionality residing in BC, without Excel, for quick, powerful analysis. The user interface and menu system has been enhanced, providing users more flexibility in personalizing their dashboard and pages. For example, lower-level menu items may be pinned to the top level for access with a single click. Users can now also use a “split view” mode to see two pages side by side, “drag and drop” images to Business Central, and enjoy other ease-of-use and navigational features. Statistical accounts have been added to the General Ledger and Financial Reporter to allow users to track non-financial data such as headcount, square footage, units sold, etc. and include statistical information and ratios within financial statements. Microsoft 365 licenses of Office E3 and Teams will include full read access to Business Central without additional cost, enabling more users to benefit from Business Central financials, inventory, purchasing, CRM, sales, and operations. New back-end technologies announced at the conference include: A new data storage service called "Azure SQL Hyperscale" enables Business Central to perform faster queries with larger databases. A new telemetry service called "Azure Application Insights" provides insights and tools to optimize Business Central performance. A new security service called "Azure Sentinel" provides Business Central with enhanced threat detection and response by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify and mitigate potential security risks.

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