Having greater access to capital is a critical need for companies. Unfortunately, the amount of cash that is tied up in excess working capital is at its highest point in three years – a situation that can make it difficult for companies to continue operations and meet expenses. Companies need a way to unlock this working capital.

To meet this challenge, companies are freeing up cash "stuck" in accounts receivable (AR), which for some businesses can exceed 30% of their revenue. Understanding where and how cash becomes "stuck" is one of the most powerful tools available to CFOs. However, many companies struggle with accessing and leveraging the data that can answer these questions. The problem is that this data is often scattered among multiple ERP systems or locked within a single system that cannot address all of the company's information needs.

Traditionally, companies have turned to technology to improve performance within AR – focusing on days sales outstanding (DSO), past due percentage, reserve balances and the percentage of write-offs, as well as optimizing the cost of collections. I propose, however, that the CFO needs to take a different approach to improve AR performance – one that leverages the full spectrum of technology, increases visibility and workflow, and enables better collections strategies.