Case Study – Agfa

A global player centralizes its credit management

Our long-term partnership with Agfa shows that our solutions are more than merely software: as the world market leader in prepress solutions for the print and media industry, this global player relies on the SHS Viveon credit management solution.
Europe, Asia, United States, South America Trade relations across countries and continents are particularly challenging for credit managers: keeping track of all risks, international credit checks and often the use of different credit management systems.
Challenge accepted – and also quickly solved
“Centralization presented us with two main challenges...”
“On the one hand, we had to be very persuasive internally. People always find it difficult to deal with major changes, especially when decision-making powers, such as limit decisions, are centralized. We thus tried to position the credit team within the organization in such a way that the country subsidiaries see it as added value rather than as a necessary hurdle. On the other hand, optimizing the processes was much more complex than we had initially imagined.”

Agfa NV aims to grow strongly in Latin America, Asia and Russia going forward. This is the ideal moment for the printing plate manufacturer to strategically control the credit management processes of all country subsidiaries using new global credit management software from its headquarters in Mortsel (Belgium).

A step ahead of the competition: including internationally

The first step was to work out a company-wide credit guideline that describes all processes and information paths relating to credit allocation and the monitoring of that allocation on an ongoing basis. For each country there was also developed an intelligently controlled credit agency strategy that selects the appropriate external information, such as credit agency data, for each region and customer structure. This helped us reduce credit agency costs and ensure better data quality.

These processes are for the most part implemented with the SHS Viveon platform (formerly DebiTEX), thus automating many credit management processes, such as limit calculation.

“For me, credit assessment is a process that should be automated for cost and efficiency reasons. A software solution helps us flexibly process data from various credit agencies,” adds Andreas Wenzel.

The system automatically calculates its own credit rating index worldwide and suggests an individual credit limit for each customer. However, significant and risk-relevant customer changes are documented not only when the contract is concluded, but over the entire duration of the customer relationship.

Think globally, understand locally

To be able to take a better account of country-specific framework conditions, Agfa has decided to continue managing certain processes locally:

“For us, it is important to carry out receivables management locally in the respective country, as proximity to the local back office, sales and customers themselves (through on-site visits) is very important considering the different time zones and cultural characteristics alone.

The result: efficient, central, international

“We know from the past that taking such a step is worthwhile,” says Andreas Wenzel, summarizing the situation. “Unifying and centralizing our credit management in Europe and North America enabled us reduce not only the cost of external information from credit agencies, but also the days sales outstanding (DSO) and bad debt losses within a very short time. Last but not least, centralization always results in an area becoming generally more economical.We would now like to transfer this success to the other country subsidiaries.”
Since credit managers are not just anybody, they should not do just any old thing. Only the really important things. “For us, the advantage of a high degree of automation is that the credit manager can focus intensively on particularly serious cases and the major risks thanks to having been relieved of manual activities and thus has more time for personal on-site contact with the sales team and customers, for example.”