Scaling Up: The Addison Group’s Story of Cash Application Automation During a Period of Hypergrowth

Jamie Garbis

Jamie Garbis

Vice President of Treasury, Credit and Collection
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Jamie has been working with the Addison Group for 9+ years and is specialized in Accounts Receivables, Cash Applications, Oracle Financials, Bank Reconciliations, and Operational Audit.

Session Summary:

Takeaway 1:
Challenges in Cash Applications process before automation
Key Points
  • It was highly manual and an inefficient process.
  • Expensive process involving heavy volume of transaction.
  • Multiple ERP’s add complexity and frustration which makes the process lag.
  • Non scalable growth
Takeaway 2:
How Addison Group partnered with HighRadius to enable operational efficiency across the O2C Process
Key Points
  • Minimizing dependence by providing competitive solutions that would enhance their business.
  • Easy understanding for their team by providing preferable solutions so that a large customer base can be supported.
  • Providing leadership visibility by expertizing on both A/R and treasury.
Takeaway 3:
Impact of automations
Key Points
  • Easy integration of files from different ERP’s.
  • Going through a long list of emails to get remittances is minimized.
  • Remittance capture is automated completely.

Heather King

ll right, everybody. So first of all, you are the Hardy group that have made it to the very end. So please give yourselves a round of applause.You are a testament to all that is right and good in the world sitting in this room right now. Well done. All right. So welcome to the last session of the day before we all get our drink on and take some more tours of the stadium for the second time for some of you perhaps for the first time for some of us, very excited for all that. But before we do this, we have our last session of the day, which I’m very excited to announce is scaling up the Addison group’s story of cash application automation during a period of hyper growth. And for that session, we have the wonderful Jamie Garbis. He is the VP of treasury credit and collections for the Addison group. He’s been working with the Addison group for over nine years. He has specialized in accounts receivables, cash applications, Oracle Financials, bank reconciliations and operational audits. So, there will be polls. So don’t forget to grab your Whova app and to answer those when prompted. And so Jamie, come on up, dude. Let’s give him a round of applause.

Jamie Garbis

Hey, everybody, I am Jamie Garbis. As you mentioned, I am the Vice President of Treasury for the Addison group. And I’m here today to talk about our cash application automation through a period of hyper growth.

So a little bit about us. We are a professional services firm. We sell people founded in 1999. We deliver consulting solutions, recruiting, staffing, and executive search solutions. across a very diverse portfolio. We’re supporting finance and accounting, the IT markets, digital marketing, non-clinical healthcare, HR administrative, and as I mentioned, consulting, so like high-end NetSuite implementations, Oracle products and HRIS. So, as you can imagine, across all those businesses, we have very diverse billing requirements, which makes the Treasury operation pretty unique. We’re headquartered in Chicago over 125 South wacker right next to the Willis Tower. And we are coast to coast, all domestic. But, you know, from California to New York, 25 plus offices across the nation, supporting all those businesses that I just mentioned. And we’re growing rapidly. About three years ago, we were probably 400,000 or 400 million in revenue, we’ve nearly doubled over the last three years, both organically and through acquisition. And the acquisition piece will be important as we continue this conversation because I’m sure some of you are aware when you grow through acquisition, it can present unique challenges, right? The goal is always to consolidate, you want to plug everything into your own core machine, your own core CRM, your core ERP, we all know that can’t happen on day one, right? So typically, you’re acquiring a new CRM, a new ERP, a new bank, and you have to find a way to fold that all in your operations. And we were struggling, because, you know, we kicked our coverage. We were moving too fast. We didn’t have the infrastructure to deal with that. And, it was a problem.

So to talk, you know, before we get to the automation, we should talk about how we were doing it before automation. And it was a very manual process. And when I say manual, I mean, incredibly manual, there was intervention every step along the way. So we had a treasury analyst, or two, or three or four, depending on the year that you’re talking about. Logging into each bank, downloading Excel files, or PDF files, going through email distribution, printing PDFs, printed word documents, printing Excel files, looking at bodies of emails, and trying to match those remits to payments on the bank. That’s for both checks, ACH wires, credit card payments, all that stuff. And then after that, they tried to take that packet, and they’d have to go into one of our multiple Ledger’s that were running and actually post the transactions manually. So just a terrible process, you know, incredibly manual, a lot of pain points, a lot of room for error. And we’re growing fast, right? So three years ago, we were doing 2000 documents a week, you know, now we’re doing 4000 documents a week. So it’s just piling up and piling up, and we can’t keep up with the value. And I talked about unique situations across all of our clients. You know some were billing every week. Some were billing every two weeks. Some were billing once a month, someone by email, so I’m going to a portal, someone something different. So we got all these different challenges across all these different organizations, you know, organically growing through acquisitions, everybody wants something different, different ERP’s, different banks and just a really difficult process to manage. And really, probably the hardest part of it was the multiple ERPs. So, you know, I’m running billing on four different instances of NetSuite. Our core mission is Microsoft Dynamics GP and then I have two consulting firms that are running out of financial force. So and you know, and we’re growing, growing like crazy. So it’s really difficult to manage that cash out process.

So it looks like we got a poll question out here. You could probably imagine what my answer would be since I’m up here talking about the cash app. But which area? Do you feel your operation needs the most automation, got credit collections, billing deductions and Cash App? So get your app out and vote, I’m sure we’ll get some results here. But, you know, obviously, for Addison group, it was a cash app, we had already focused on a lot of the other stuff, our billing operations are pretty well automated through the ERPs. But as we grew, we knew we had to scale the Cash App operation. And, and you know, obviously, the goal was to grow both organically and aggressively through acquisition. So it was a problem that was identified that we knew we had to address.

So take a little bit deeper dive into the struggles with the cash app and the legacy process. You know, I already talked about being very manual, very paper-heavy and also very expensive. It’s expensive for a couple of reasons. One, as we got bigger, the only thing we could do is throw more bodies added. So you’re adding salaries into your p&l, and you don’t want to do that, right. I mean, it’s not a value add process, but you don’t have a choice. You get bigger, there’s more cash, there are more invoices, there are more seats, the only way you’re gonna get through it, is to throw bodies, throw bodies at it. It’s also expensive because there’s a lot of room for error. You know, when you’re going through paper remits, and you’re matching it up to a bank statement, maybe you have the same receipts for the same amount, you know, one of your analysts accidentally puts a payment on the wrong invoice. Now, the wrong one shows this close. Another one’s outstanding, that shouldn’t be, you have to do painful reconciliations that take time, you’re paying people to do that, clients are getting pissed off, the salespeople are getting pissed off. Because, you know, we’re calling their clients and saying, Hey, why aren’t they paying, they have paid. So it’s expensive. It’s frustrating, you know, a terribly manual and inefficient process. And again, not scalable, you know, I’ll harp on and again, the client frustrations and, and collection team frustrations, it was a pretty serious problem, especially in the last two years before we put in the automation because the Treasury team couldn’t keep up with the volume of transactions. So there’d be times when we are 2,3,4 days behind on cash receipts. And our collections team is aggressive. You know, we’re calling one day after terms and we’re getting after them. But the cash isn’t in the ledger. So they’re calling and clients are saying we already paid these, why are you calling us, they’re going back to their sales team and saying, Hey, your idiot AR people are calling us, we already paid all these invoices, you know, what’s going on over there. And you’re losing business because of it, you know, and it was a serious problem. So a totally inefficient process, you know, in the legacy form.

Hence, we decided to bring in automation. And you can imagine from what I talked about some of the key objectives, first of all, had to be scalable, had to be able to support the growth. Second, we want to be able to fold acquisitions in as we buy them, you know, we know we’re gonna buy more, we know we’re gonna buy market share, it’s not all gonna be organic. So we need a solution that when we buy them can easily get plugged into that machine and continue to roll. And we needed to eliminate the gaps that already existed in our multiple ERPs.

Other things to consider are the large customer base, you know, always growing over 3000 clients being built each week, and need to be able to support all those. Item two is a big one, I’m sure some of you guys have had experience with this before. We wanted to take our IT out of it. Sometimes there’s a struggle between it and finance and competing priorities. We wanted to make sure if there was an issue with a product, we didn’t need it to be there to resolve it, you know, we’ve had situations before where there wasn’t a resource that could help us with an issue that sets you back a day or two that can cost money. So you know, we wanted to pull IT out and make sure we had a product that supports you and that would be able to deal with it for us. And lastly, we wanted to be able to provide our leadership, you know, more visibility to what’s going on. You know, when I go and I talk to the CEO and the CFO every Monday morning, I don’t want to say that my treasury team spent 50 hours doing data entry on a cash app, right? You know, I want to say that they posted 4000 transactions, and they put together a cash forecast that they can use to make strategic decisions and they’re benchmarking us and our fees against competitors and things like that, you know, and on top of it, I want my treasury analysts to have like a feel of value in their role, right. We had a hard time retaining people because the job was stressful. It was thankless they’re not doing value add so you know, people were turning over so we really wanted to transform that roll into something that was more value add for the company.

So why HighRadius? You know, for the Addison group, it was really easy.
The choice to go with HighRadius. We bank with PNC HighRadius as a preferred partner of PNC. So at a very competitive price, we did look at other products that had similar solutions for Cash App, you know, they’re out there, we did our homework. But we felt that the HighRadius was a little more cutting edge. When they did their demo, we easily saw how it would apply to our business, you know, they did a great demo, they did a good job coming out, you know, getting our business cases and putting together something that really was relevant, was easy for the team to understand. And their referrals were excellent. You know, we talked to other people in similar industries, fast volume, high transactions that were already live with the product. And they were having success. And they told us the pain points and what worked and what didn’t. And, you know, we really believe that it was a good solution for us. And if you do your homework on HighRadius, you look out there. I mean, they’re experts on the Treasury technology forefront, they’re winning awards all the time. So it really was an easy decision to go with HighRadius.

So of course, we had to prepare a business case, right? You know, I had to go to CFO and then the CEO and say, Hey, here’s what’s going on. For us, the business case was scaling Cash App, we’re growing, we’re projected to double, you know, we’re gonna get to 1,2 billion, 3 billion in sales at some point, how are we going to support it? You know, there are two options, one invest in headcount, it’s expensive to invest in A/R automation, about the same as it costs to do to hire and analysts, but it’s going to scale and it’s going to grow with you, you’re not going to need to keep doing that.

So you can see the major areas in the business case, one cost-effective, like I said, investing in the product, about the same as hiring an analyst in Chicago, to save time. So we’re reallocating our current analysts time to value add activities, making strategic decisions, and three, long term scalability, right, we’re going to keep growing, we’re going to buy market share, we’re going to open organic offices, we’re not going to need to add bodies. And additionally, we might even gain synergies through these acquisitions. Because if we can follow them into the operation, I don’t need their analysts anymore. You know, we can plug them into ours, and you’re going to gain efficiency there, and you’re going to save dollars. So it was a very easy sell to both the CFO and the CEO, you know, HighRadius does get that across the board.

So where are we at right now, paper checks, pretty much 100% automated, you know, if it’s a check, it’s either read in the maker information, or it’s reading, remittance and our analysts aren’t even touching that it’s just a file that’s getting integrated across the multiple ERP’s. And the ACH and wire side, we’re getting files every single day, easily spit out that go, that connects through either data feeds or uploads through all of our ERPs very efficiently. And the whole process of going through emails and paper and printing and doing all that stuff. totally eliminated, nobody has to do any of that anymore.

So if you got to talk about some numbers, 70% automation across our cash application, you know, it goes up or down, depending on the day, it does get smarter as you use it more. But we’re pretty happy with 70%. And I have one guy running a Cash App for the entire company. So I mean, I don’t think I can get better results than that, right? You buy a product, you’ll have one person running it and it’s growing with you, we consider it a really great success.

So, future plan of action, we’re gonna keep optimizing HighRadius, you know, we have a meeting every single week, how we can improve the tool, what kind of adjustments we can make in there. Sometimes we go back to HighRadius and say, hey, you know, the business has changed. This is happening, how can we make it better? So we’re always improving that. But we’re also in the design phase of the collections cloud, I think you’ve heard a lot of people talk about that. We were still doing collections a little archaically. And I’m really happy with what we’re seeing there right now. So going to continue to pass the HighRadius is going to continue to use their products and see where you can go. But overall, it’s been a great experience and a really great success story for Addison group.

So I know everybody wants to go get beer and walk around the stadium. I’m going to close out with questions and we can get out of here and do that.

Yeah, we get an individual, some of them are automatically connected, we set up a data feed where it just feeds in there automatically. A couple of instances we didn’t want that. So we get separate files each day that can go into each ERP, very compatible, very easy to use, you know, incredibly efficient. So like I said, I think we have 70 RPS we’re getting 14 different files every day, one for the lockbox, one for ACH. I mean, we’re on the major ERP’s I’m sure you guys are all using mostly Oracle products or something like that now so we’re on NetSuite Great Plains and the financial force for Salesforce all compatible.
You can’t, we don’t have much of that. But you can set that up. You know, we’re fortunate in our business model, it’s pretty simple. But we did go through a design phase where that was an option and we did set it up, we just don’t use it. We don’t have that, there are hundreds sometimes, you know, there, there are signs and we’ll get a million-dollar payment, you know, from one of our biggest clients, and, you know, there might be 200 invoices on that remit, and it’s lining them all up, it’s scanning it, you know, you design it, to find your invoice numbers, you know, it uses OCR technology, where it can scan all the common files that come through, and it’s matching it up to your ledger and it’s applying them out, you know, it’s a really impressive, really cool product.

So, there are several different ways you can set it up, I’m told the way that we’re doing it is we have an auto-forward going on. So you know, we have distribution for all of our client remittances. So every day you know it says on our invoices, please email A/R, your remittance, right, so we’re getting 1000s Every single day, those are getting auto-forwarded to HighRadius, High Radius is running their process, the OCR technology scanning the remits reading the emails doing all that to match it to the payments in the bank. So we don’t have to do anything. You know, I set a rule up in Outlook, and they just go and that’s it.
Regardless, we get them all well, I guess we get the common ones, right, we get, you know, word PDF, the body of email, Excel, all the common stuff and it’s reading them all EDI information through the bank directly. You know, it does an excellent job capturing remittance.


If a customer handwrites something on their remittance, is HighRadius able to read that or doesn’t kick it out entirely?

Jamie Garbis

Depends on how good their handwriting is. It depends on how good their handwriting is, that is a problem enough, sometimes we’ll get a paper check from a small mom and pop shop and the invoices are written on there. You know, the way that we’ve gotten around that is on the check side, you can set up rules to read the MICR information and the account information. And then HighRadius is smart enough to say Oh, this MICR information relates to this account. And the check is for X amount of dollars. And these three invoices are for this amount of dollars, if it’s a perfect match, automatically applies it out. If it doesn’t, you know, it kicks it out. And that would be one that your treasury analysts had to look at. But that is you know, that is one of the points. Those are some of the exceptions each day, handwritten remittance.

Heather King

Any more questions? Y’all are like, I can drink soon. So you know, come on.
All right, Going once. Going twice. Oh, haha, the buzzer.


What operating system do you use? So you process your cash in HighRadius, and where does it fit into like Oracle or SAP

Jamie Garbis

so that our general ledger is guessing our general ledger systems, yeah. So we have right now three different instances of NetSuite. One instance of Microsoft Dynamics GP and two instances of financial force with Salesforce. So we’re integrating files with all of those.


Okay, okay. Thank you.

Jamie Garbis


Heather King

We started the countdown again because we had a question: Going once.Going twice. All right, let’s give Jamie Garbus a big round of applause.

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