App to ease VAR cash crunch

KEYSTONE, Colo. — GE Access has launched an application that will enable resellers to view their financial services account information online.

In a one-on-one interview at the distributor’s New Frontiers conference Thursday,

Frances Draper, the firm’s vice-president, risk management, said the Web tool, Direct Account Access (DAA), could help many solution providers who are feeling the cash crunch.

“”Many businesses are basically struggling and are on the edge of bankruptcy because their cash flow management is a horrendous chore, and there are elements of it that people don’t understand,”” Draper said during a breakout session Tuesday.

Often a reseller’s gross margin no longer covers business costs because a major customer has defaulted, Draper said. Customers are now also much slower to order; therefore sales generation and the resulting payments are slower, she added.

“”What’s happening to all of the resellers is the lead time is getting much longer,”” Draper told CDN. “”The time to find the sale, get it booked, work through it, get the money — it takes maybe six months where it used to take two.””

According to Draper, DAA will enable resellers to save precious time by enabling them to view and print invoices, account history, receipt application and transaction activity. Prior to DAA, such information would have to be requested from a GE Access financial service team member, who would then have to run a report and fax the information to the customer.

“”The faster they (resellers) know and have the details, the faster they can invoice it right away,”” she said. Searches can be done on serial numbers, shipping date and location, among other criteria.

Draper said DAA ties in with the company’s underlying process improvement philosophy, Six Sigma. GE Access president and CEO John Paget said the company uses Six Sigma to look for and remove any “”non-value-add”” steps within a business process.

“”Let’s say you need me to sign something and then it goes back to you and you hand it to someone else to sign. We would say that both those steps might be non-value-add,”” Paget explained. “”They don’t have any positive impact on the customer. But we would try to figure out how to cut out those non-value-add steps. So we are constantly focusing on making our customer feel this efficiency and consequently reducing cost and increasing their bottom line.””

Future enhancements to DAA will include an online dispute function which, Draper said, would give a reseller the opportunity to pull up an invoice and challenge it online, without having to send it back to the financial services team for review.

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