6. Resisting change from both headquarters and local subsidiaries
In many cases, unwillingness to change is one of the primary reasons behind accounts receivable inefficiencies in global technology companies. If a process is not optimal but does not break, it will be consigned to oblivion. If a process causes enough troubles, it will be subject to change until the accumulated resistance becomes greater than what the change is worth. The defiance against change happens remarkably on both sides, namely the headquarters and their local subsidiaries. On the headquarters' side, senior executives often perceive more risk than return in developing markets. The risk-averse mentality makes it difficult for them to change their priorities and lend more weight to the accounts receivable operations in those local subsidiaries. Even if they would like to change, there are plenty of hurdles standing in their way. The headquarters' staff are also resistant to change, and it is arduous to establish new structures and make them work seamlessly with others from the local subsidiaries without creating too many fragments.
On the local subsidiaries' side, they usually request flexibility from the headquarters, yet stay inflexible about their own approaches. The prevalent "the way we do things around here" mindset generally permeates every accounts receivable process and activity. Local staff tend to sustain their former processes and consider them equally important, if not more significant, to processes that are standardised globally. This creates duplication of work as well as incongruence of output. For instance, local subsidiaries do not aggregate their accounts receivable data or feed it back to the headquarters, resulting in the global data being not aggregated. Even if regional executives resolve to change, it can be taxing to get a clear and concrete idea of what the global executives need and have in mind for their regions.
Time and time again, overcoming resistance to change has to happen first and foremost from the top. Once the global executives demonstrate their desire and preparedness for change, they can lead and endorse other accounts receivable staff to join the battle against bureaucratic inertia. It is not about "your way" or "my way" – centralisation or decentralisation – but it is to attain a balance between them in major accounts receivable processes and accountability.