As a new AR manager, one of my responsibilities will be managing the customer master file. The existing file is out-of-date and contains errors and bad information. Any suggestions?

Managing a customer master file is a challenging task. To be of value, it must be current and routinely reviewed or "scrubbed" to eliminate duplicate, erroneous and invalid records.

To start:

  • Limit access to the customer master file. Only one or two members of the AR department should have "write" privileges or permission to update, correct and delete records.
  • Establish naming conventions so that information is entered uniformly.
  • New customers or entries should be “vetted.” Ensure the company is legitimate. First, check to see if it is listed on the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets and Controls (OFAC) SDN list of individuals, businesses and nations with whom U.S. persons may not conduct business. If the company is listed—stop. Use Google Maps to locate and validate the company's address(es).
  • Schedule periodic "scrubbings" or cleanings to remove duplicate files. For example, you can create a simple, automated tax identification number program look up.

For more, detailed information read Managing Customer Data and review BOLO: Be On The Look Out For Government Restrictions.

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