Treasury Practice

Problem Solved: Scott M Miller, Henkel

Published: Oct 2008

Henkel’s global operations was based in several locations and it needed a system to tackle its overall collections needs as well as provide real time visibility into data. The company implemented AvantGard Receivables, which offered increased control and an automated approach to collections, as well as sophisticated cash reporting abilities.

Scott M Miller

Vice President of Finance, Order-to-Cash

Headquartered in Germany, Henkel is a manufacturing and technology company that is organised into three operating sectors: laundry and homecare products, cosmetics and toiletries, and adhesive technologies. The company employs approximately 52,000 people worldwide and utilises shared service centres (SSCs) located in Connecticut (USA) and Manila (Philippines), which are responsible for managing its North American business activities. Henkel services approximately 30,000 customers in North America alone.


As a global organisation with a number of different operating locations, Henkel found that it was unable to gain the visibility it desired into key information, such as that required to perform cash forecasting and risk analysis surrounding the order-to-cash cycle. Credit operations information was located in 15 disparate systems and credit and collections employees were therefore receiving a disjointed view of data and customers. In turn, this hindered the efficiency and accuracy rates at which transactions could be processed and settled.

Henkel’s credit and collections processes were entirely manual, increasing the likelihood of costly inaccuracies. The processing of data by hand also required the attention of a large number of staff and monopolised time that could have been spent supporting more goal and revenue-driven activities.

Henkel reached an impasse where business growth could not be efficiently facilitated without employing further staff to process the increasing volume of transactions. As the company did not have the level of detail or real-time view of information that it needed to make the best possible business decisions or to forecast as precisely as desired, it became clear that reporting also needed to be improved. Henkel therefore decided to look for an automated system to improve the operational efficiency around the order-to-cash cycle within its North American SSCs.


The company went through an in-depth analysis of available vendors, taking into consideration its own functional and technical guidelines. Henkel’s requirements included: a quick implementation timeframe that would not interfere with ‘business-as-usual’ activities, seamless integration with its ERP system, process automation, real-time visibility into data, a consistent approach to collections, significant ROI and lastly, sophisticated reporting capabilities.

Henkel chose SunGard as its provider because the vendor proved most capable of precisely accommodating the organisation’s overall collections needs. Following a thorough evaluation of Henkel’s business situation, SunGard implemented AvantGard Receivables to offer the company increased control and an automated approach to managing accounts receivable, as well as a centralised repository for data storage and manipulation. The benefits that the AvantGard solution has offered Henkel include: improved productivity via automation and workflow integration, increased visibility into data surrounding the order-to-cash cycle, a centralised location for data to be stored and controlled, scalability to handle large transaction volumes and workflow controls for duty segregation.

Thus far, Henkel has experienced considerable improvements in receivables management, perhaps the most significant of these being increased cash flow stemming from enhanced visibility and control over credit and collections data. “With the help of the AvantGard Receivables solution, we have been able to measurably improve our productivity through centralising our credit and collections operations”, comments Miller. Reporting was another area that Henkel hoped to develop and with the help of AvantGard, the goal of gaining exceptional reporting capabilities has been attained, improving the organisations forecasting and providing root cause analysis.

Another of the solution’s benefits is its ability to improve productivity throughout the order-to-cash cycle. This has been accomplished through automation of processes that had previously been performed manually, as well as the added benefit of increased levels of collaboration across the enterprise. Various business units and departments are now communicating better, enabling employees to gain a clearer sense of the bigger picture. Miller concludes: “Adopting automated technology has allowed for increased efficiency in processes surrounding the order-to-cash cycle, as well as invaluable tracking and reporting capabilities that have provided us with an enhanced means of forecasting and monitoring financial trends.”

The AvantGard Receivables solution is currently used in Henkel of America’s shared service centre (SSC) and the company anticipates expanding its usage to the European SSC in the near future. Henkel was pleased with the implementation, including the swiftness with which the solution was up and running, as well as the expertise demonstrated by SunGard staff. AvantGard Receivables Dashboard, which assists companies in measuring key performance indicators, is due to be rolled out in the North America SSC in the coming months.

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