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Deduction management can be a powerful contributor to profitable revenue growth within the complex world of CPG. At its core, deduction management is the process of validating and clearing trade deductions or short payments made by retailers for promotional activity.
Ideally, your accounts receivable would be simple: your customer requests a service or product, you deliver, and they pay. Yet, reality often proves more difficult. In this guide, we'll cover the importance of effective deduction management and specific strategies you can employ to improve and measure it.
Categories of Deductions
1. Agreed-to deductions
These encompass trade promotion billback deals, cash discounts, markdowns, and approved returns. While these deductions form the bulk of the category, they come with a notably high error rate.
2. Preventable deductions
These deductions stem from unclear trade promotions, invoicing mistakes, EDI discrepancies, shortages, and issues with delivery timing, etc. Many of these problems are recurring due to underlying systemic issues, and they'll persist unless the root causes are addressed.
3. Unauthorized or excessive deductions
Covers deductions that overstep trade promotion agreements, double deductions, late discounts, errors in customer returns, pricing discrepancies, and count mistakes. Overcharged amounts, even on valid deductions, fall under this umbrella.
4. Post-audit deductions
These deductions, often issued by commissioned A/P auditors, can rear their head even years after the original transaction. Alarmingly, up to half of these post-audit deductions can be erroneous, inflated, or even duplicate charges.
The Lifecycle of a Deduction
The Importance of Effective Deduction Management in CPG
When it comes to managing your trade promotions, managing pennies can amount to managing fortunes. Deduction management is a cornerstone of this premise. Here's why mastering it is non-negotiable for businesses aspiring to stand tall in the CPG industry.
- Impact on the bottom line: Every unresolved deduction chips away at your profit. By efficiently managing deductions, you ensure that unwarranted reductions don't consume trade funds needed to drive sales, thereby protecting your earnings and enabling more effective budgeting and resource allocation.
- Effects on cash flow and working capital: A sea of pending deductions can lock up vital cash, affecting liquidity. Streamlined deduction management can free up trapped cash, thus stabilizing your working capital and ensuring a smoother cash flow.
- Eliminate spend surprises: Unexpected expenses, especially large ones, are a CFO’s nightmare. Developing and following a disciplined approach to deduction management will ward off those unpleasant surprises.
- Streamlining operations: Deduction management aids in identifying recurrent issues, letting businesses address root causes. This not only reduces your recurring deductions but also smooths operational wrinkles.
- Improved accuracy in reporting and accounting: Properly managed deductions mean fewer discrepancies and errors. This translates to more accurate financial reports and streamlined accounting, giving stakeholders a clearer picture of the company's financial health.
- Actionable: Timely deduction management can highlight overspends. Recognizing these early can alert businesses to reallocate or adjust funds.
Strengthened retailer relationships
- Trust-building: Consistently addressing and resolving deductions fosters trust. Retailers understand that you are serious about your commitments and are less likely to withhold payments without justification.
- Clear communication and better collaboration: Effective deduction management demands open channels of communication. This collaborative approach can iron out many potential issues before they become major pain points.
Maintaining a record trail for post-audits
- Transparency: The discipline of deduction management ensures a meticulous record of every transaction, deduction, and resolution. This is invaluable during post-audits, demonstrating your company's commitment and trustworthiness.
- Accuracy: Able to capture the ACTUAL spend of trade promotions. This helps in determining whether the ROI unfolded as anticipated. If there's a deviation from the planned ROI, we can understand the reasons behind it.
Enhancing post-event analytics
- Actual spend: By linking what was actually spent on a promotion to the sales results, one can factually track the actual return on investment from trade, account P&Ls, and more.
The Most Common Challenges in Deduction Management
Deduction management is essential for maintaining financial stability, preserving retailer relationships, and ensuring compliance. As the industry evolves rapidly, let's examine common challenges and their implications.
Volume and accuracy of data:
- Issue: Managing large numbers of deductions, each with its specific characteristics, can be challenging. When striving for absolute accuracy, this task becomes even more complex.
- Impact: This leads to protracted processes, increasing the chances of errors and inefficiencies.
Matching deduction to the right promotional expense
- Issue: Deductions are not always clear and are not consistently applied to the right invoice. Sometimes it takes a bit of detective work to make the match, which slows down the process. Retail customers don’t have an incentive to help, so it's up to the technology and the people managing it to mitigate this challenge.
- Impact: Invalid deductions are cleared and expenses are applied to the wrong promotions, preventing or throwing off post-event analytics.
- Issue: Deductions require timely and precise reconciliation to keep the financial ship steady.
- Impact: Failing to do so can stir cash flow disturbances, financial mismatches, and errors in reporting, jeopardizing deduction management efforts.
Compliance and regulations
- Issue: The legal environment requires strict compliance with its changing regulations.
- Impact: Neglecting this can lead to non-compliance, potential legal issues, and significant financial penalties.
- Issue: As technology advances, the pressure to integrate state-of-the-art solutions for immediate data access and analytics grows.
- Impact: Delays in embracing technology can lead to fragmented data sources, an absence of real-time insights, less than optimal productivity of deduction personnel, and hiccups in deduction management.
- Issue: The effort to improve operations for effective deduction management is continuous.
- Impact: Any lapse in this effort can increase operational costs, reduce efficiency, and impact productivity.
Gaining insights from data
- Issue: Data is more than just numbers; it offers valuable insights. Using analytics can show patterns, predictions, and essential information for decision-making.
- Impact: This proactive approach helps to make informed decisions, highlight trends, and uncovering golden opportunities within deduction management.
Collaboration and communication
- Issue: Deduction management is a collective effort. Hence, the importance of clear communication across teams, departments, and with retailers cannot be understated.
- Impact: Any lapse here can create miscommunication, produce errors, and put retailer relationships on thin ice.
- Issue: As businesses evolve, adopting innovative processes and cutting-edge technologies becomes inevitable. Navigating this change efficiently is essential.
- Impact: Doing so ensures seamless transitions, fosters employee buy-in, and aligns the organization with a unified vision for deduction management.
Guide to deduction management
Our comprehensive guide encompasses deduction management strategies, KPIs, technology advances, and much more to help you manage deductions better and faster!
CPGvision: Managing Deductions With the Only Solution You Need
At CPGvision, we understand that technology is integral to modern deduction management. Our platform integrates the latest tech advancements, allowing you to adapt swiftly in a dynamic industry.
But we offer more than just a platform. We work alongside you as strategic partners, ensuring you have expert support every step of the way in managing deductions.
Streamline your deduction management and achieve your business targets. Contact our team and start your journey with CPGvision by PSignite.