There is no disputing that the Customer Master File is one of the most critical repositories of information for a major corporation, regardless of their industry, Accounts Receivable system, or geographic location. Ensuring that the policies and controls surrounding its integrity are properly instituted and maintained is an extremely important activity that must be carried out with the utmost in due diligence.
Recently, two questions were posed to the Peeriosity membership in the Accounts Receivable research area using Peeriosity’s iPollingTM capabilities to understand member practices related to maintaining the integrity of the Customer Master File. The first poll question looked at what was the biggest challenge faced by companies in this area, with the issue of a lack of centralized oversight being the most prevalent response at 40%. As is the case with any type of master data, when responsibility for oversight is spread across multiple entities within the company, proper coordination can be a major issue and data integrity often is negatively impacted under this type of structure. Having one organization that has overall control and responsibility can have a major favorable impact on this important process.
Reviewing the remaining results from this poll question, some other popular responses included organizational alignment of the function (Finance, IT, Sales, etc.) at 20%, access that is too extensive (13%), and policies/processes that need to be updated, also at 13%.
The question of organizational alignment is an interesting one when it is related to the Customer Master File, since it touches so many different organizations within the company. For example, having the Sales/Customer Service organization hold responsibility for this role has the inherent advantages of allowing those that best understand the customer to be in charge of customer setup and maintenance. Some argue that Finance is the best place for this role, since it has such significant impacts on the revenue of the company and overall control structure. Others feel that IT is the best spot, since it is a data table that should be maintained by those responsible for technology. Clearly, there is no easy answer to this question.
The second poll question addressed the issue of what level of priority companies are placing on improving the integrity of the Customer Master File over the next three years. Reviewing the results, the majority (53%) of the surveyed companies indicated that this is a key initiative for them, with another 27% responding that it is important, but they are also dealing with other key priorities that may take precedence. Just 20% of the companies responded that they are comfortable with their current process and controls in this area.
Some of the member comments associated with this poll includes the following:
Computers & Electronics Member: Looking for a standardized process to validate multiple customer addresses, with an emphasis on the ship-to location.
Real Estate & Construction Member: This is a key project for 2016.
Consumer Products & Services Member: Need to determine records that are inactive and that must be deleted or archived in a separate environment.
How effective are your company’s controls and processes related to the Customer Master File? Are there further improvements to this critical area that can be put into place with a reasonable amount of time and effort?
Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?
“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.
Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers. Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted. To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.