Best Crisis Management Solution Highly Commended: Microsoft Corporation

Published: Sep 2021


Photo of Rosa Riveria, Director, Tom Czerwinski, Director and Neil Doyle, Group Finance Manager.

Rosa Riveria


Tom Czerwinski


Neil Doyle

Group Finance Manager

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

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Multi-billion dollar receivables business requires quick response to global pandemic

The challenge

Microsoft’s Global Treasury and Financial Services (GTFS) function manages credit risk, collections, cash application, customised payment solutions, and treasury operations and is responsible for collections of US$100bn+ in yearly sales from hundreds of thousands of customers. GTFS operations is supported by thousands of business processing outsourcing (BPO) staff from Accenture across the globe.

In 2020 the whole world was impacted by the COVID pandemic, requiring innovative workarounds to ensure ongoing customer support. “Our company and our customers were significantly impacted and COVID forced us to think of ways to operate to maintain business continuity, support our customers and continue to achieve projected cash-flows through seamless customer experience and collections,” explains Rosa Riveria, Director.

The impact of COVID was so severe that the company’s teams, who used to operate seamlessly, faced challenges in access to systems, tools and processes. The objective was to create an emergency crises management process around the problem areas which would allow the company to: serve its customers despite the crisis; maintain seamless access to systems, tools, and processes and improve cash flow operations.

The solution

The solution involved getting the entire BPO team set up with access to systems including hardware, Wi-Fi and telephones. The company also created processes and regional empowerments and, working asynchronously, allowed its teams to continue closure of critical activities without being online in the same time-zone.

The company introduced new workflows using Microsoft’s Power Platform and PowerApps, allowing the creation of structured and flawless workflow systems for speedy approval.

Decentralised empowerment with regional leaders provided much needed help to address critical customer issues and support with the required payment solutions.

The team deployed smart tools such as intelligent collections/cash app advisor and collection concierge, and new employees were hired across the globe, necessitating the need for a dedicated and structured onboarding process to allow new colleagues to be fully onboarded despite being virtual.

In the middle of all these challenges, MSFT Global Ops (which manages collections) came together with Accenture to set up the contingency support plan. This utilises available resources, such as the asynchronous working strategy*, together with infrastructure and empowerments for BPO for swift collections and supporting customer queries. The impact has been great customer service and one of the best quarters Microsoft has ever had in terms of its collections business.

Best practice and innovation

COVID brought an unprecedented impact on Microsoft’s customers, business partners and the way it operated. It was a huge challenge to create a solid infrastructure and technology support for a multi-billion dollar accounts receivables business with hundreds of thousands of customers and partners across the globe.

“However, we successfully mitigated the risk of business continuity with the quick deployment of hardware and connectivity solutions to our front-line operations teams. Changes to processes and increased regional empowerments improved the velocity of business transaction approvals. The deployment of smart tools using artificial intelligence and machine learning significantly improved operational effectiveness and efficiency and the solutions positively impacted our cash flow. However, what we are most proud of are the qualitative aspects – improved customer experience, operations teams achieved improved work-life balance and enabled continuous learning in a virtual environment,” says Neil Doyle, Group Finance Manage.

Key benefits

  • Improved customer experience.
  • Speedy payment approval solution delivered the following:
    • Pre-COVID – ~three-four days average time to approve.
    • Post-COVID – ~24 hours due to regional empowerments.
  • Account receivables (A/R) overdue were significantly reduced.
  • Average increase in cash flow per month:
    • 41% better collection in 60+ A/R.
    • 48% higher auto-cash applications.
    • 58% total efficiency savings.

The Adam Smith Awards is the industry benchmark for best practice and innovation in corporate treasury. The 2021 Awards attracted a record-breaking 309 nominations spanning 40 countries. To find out more please visit: https://treasurytoday.com/adam-smith-awards.

* This solution was awarded Judges’ Choice in the 2020 Adam Smith Awards.

John McDonough

Business Account Lead

COVID-19 created an immediate need for Microsoft to rethink the way it operates and maintains support for customers and business partners. In a matter of days, Microsoft had to seamlessly mobilise teams to work from home and transition infrastructure and technology support.

Working together, in less than a week, Microsoft and Accenture enabled delivery center employees to work from home – with zero disruption to the business. Virtual training and onboarding facilitated the growth and development of our teams. ML and AI solutions improved cash flow and collections as well as efficiency and customer experiences.

We could not be prouder of the teamwork displayed and outstanding business results delivered in the face of incredible uncertainty.

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