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XRS COLLECTOR CASE STUDY

WEXFORD COUNTY COUNCIL INCREASES COLLECTIONS PRODUCTIVITY BY 30% USING SPECIALIST DEBT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

PROJECT DETAILS

Wexford

Debt Types Managed:

  • Commercial Rates
  • Housing Rents
  • Housing Loans (Mortgages)
  • Planning Development Levies
  • Fire Charges
  • Marina Fees

Core Financial Management System: Integra Financials

Number of Collector Users: 40

Web: https://www.wexfordcoco.ie/

KEY RESULTS

30%

Less Admin Work

17%

Reduction in Rent Weeks in Arrears (During COVID-19)

€33,000+

Minimum Annual Savings on Transaction Charges

BACKGROUND

Wexford County Council is the 13th largest local authority in Ireland serving a population of 149,000 people.

In the last few years, the Council has undergone a period of transformation to centralise it’s debt management function. Collections for rents, rates, mortgages, and planning were centralised in an effort to improve average performance.

While this effort produced positive results, Wexford still felt there was room for improvement in their technology infrastructure to help drive a best practice approach.

Map of Wexford

Map of Wexford

Seamus Begley,
Head of Management Accounting,
Wexford County Council


“There were too many manual administration tasks in our system which led to inefficiencies in our collections. It was very time consuming and not very effective. Cases were slipping under the radar and people were developing avoidable arrears”

CHALLENGES

The collections team in Wexford were working hard but results were below the desired levels. They were frustrated by the limitations of the existing systems.

Each collector had their own way of collecting cash and there was no guiding strategy or process in place. In addition, the ad hoc collections made it very difficult for managers and required a huge time commitment.

The primary challenges were:

  • Large volumes of cases and not enough people to get through all the work.
  • No way to prioritise workloads. Working from long, static, lists led to accounts being missed or even bypassed if they were difficult to manage.
  • Up to three weeks to reconcile payments causing a build up of arrears.
  • Delays threatening or issuing legal proceedings and duplicating work.
  • Debtors forming bad habits as they were often not contacted for weeks after missing a payment, if at all.

PROCUREMENT

Wexford engaged an external consultant, KPI Consulting, to identify weaknesses in their existing debt collection processes. They then scoped out the requirements for a software package to improve and modernise their collections. A comprehensive tender process was conducted which resulted in XRS being awarded the contract.

The procurement team felt the Collector solution provided by XRS was excellent value for money and would be easy for staff to use. More importantly, it provided all the advanced functionality they required, in particular recurring card payments and automated agreement to pay monitoring.

Procurement
Implementation


“I couldn’t speak any more highly of the implementation process, especially considering the challenges of COVID-19. The customer support is nothing short of fantastic. Nothing is a problem.”

IMPLEMENTATION

The project coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic which presented significant challenges. Face to face meetings used to play a key role in XRS’s implementation approach. However, the health and wellbeing of XRS and Council staff was paramount, so the project switched seamlessly to digital only communications leveraging tools such as Zoom and MS Teams.

All interactions, from initial project planning, through to training and go-live were conducted remotely. Clear communication and decision making was crucial. Despite these challenges the implementation was completed in just four months including developing an interface to Integra, the Council’s core financial system.

SOLUTION

Wexford County Council now have a robust debt management system in place to achieve best practice in collections. Linked to Integra, Collector is used to manage debts in commercial rates, housing rents, housing loans, planning, fire charges and marina fees. Automated worklists guide users through their daily tasks and managers have a helicopter view to spot potential issues. All interactions with customers are recorded and each type of debtor has its own customised chase path.

Multiple communications and payments channels are now supported allowing debtors to correspond and pay using their preferred method, for example, letter, email or SMS reminders and debit card payments. Automating many previously manual tasks has allowed Wexford to focus on more value-adding tasks and complex cases. A full suite of debt management reports, including several bespoke templates, are used to monitor performance.

Solution


“We streamlined the process and put a structure on it. Being able to catch cases early was a game changer. Credit control staff took to it like a duck to water, they absolutely love it”

Results


“Before, all the activity was manual. We have saved a huge amount of time as result of the new system. I never envisaged we could achieve what we have. The system will more than pay for itself. My only regret is we didn’t get it years ago”

RESULTS

  • 30% reduction in credit controller administration work, time spent not collecting cash.
  • Cost savings of €33,000 p.a. minimum by migrating from An Post BillPay cards to recurring debit card payments. Savings of up to €100,000 p.a. achievable in the medium to long term.
  • 17% reduction in rent weeks in arrears achieved in 5 months during COVID-19.
  • 81% of rent cases in arrears are on agreements to pay automatically monitored by Collector saving huge amounts of credit controller time & effort.
  • 46% reduction in management time for monthly reviews with credit controllers.
  • 75% reduction in resources to produce rates waivers and statements for 3,500 customers during COVID-19. As a result, future rates bills will now be produced by Collector.
  • Improved management oversight of all collections with dashboards, status flags etc.
  • Improved staff work-life balance. The system has made staffs’ lives much easier, their work is structured, they’re producing better results, and it gives them flexibility to work and report remotely from home.
  • Revitalised planning collections after implementing a clear, structured, approach.
  • Immediate reduction in delays issuing legal proceedings by establishing a new, specialist, legal team and systematic processes.
  • Early Intervention: debtors are now contacted as soon as a single payment is missed.

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