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When selecting a treasury workstation vendor, treasury’s ongoing relationship, post-selection, should factor heavily into that decision. Like all relationships, it takes work. Selecting a vendor is like being on an episode of The Bachelorette. You get to go on several dates (demos), spend time one-on-one, and then you decide who deserves the rose. In the end, you select the vendor that fits your functionality and personality. Sure, you have to break a few hearts, but it doesn’t matter because you have found the one.
Aside from the functionality of your treasury management system (TMS), the level of service your vendor provides is arguably just as important. You are about to embark on one of the most important projects for your treasury, and you want to make sure you have a supportive partner at your side. Together, you will face common obstacles and hardships, but it is how you handle these challenges that can make the project a success or failure.
The number of dedicated resources a project has can determine if it will move swiftly. There may be other areas of the business that will be using the system besides treasury (i.e. accounting). Be sure to include them in the initial discovery and planning, so you can set the appropriate expectations and secure their buy-in early in the process. On the flipside, if you know early on that resources are going to be an issue, tell your vendor so they can make adjustments on their end. There may be certain parts of the project the vendor can “cookie-cut”, or they may be able to offer suggestions on how to prioritize and manage your time in regards to the implementation.
All vendors will be able to connect to banks, but banking connectivity might not be core to the vendor’s business. Some vendors have a strategic focus on bank connectivity and over the years have established various sound banking relationships, a repository of connectivity options, and are familiar with various formats and regional nuances. Others may utilize third-party aggregators who have less experience with the intricacies of connecting you to your bank data. Experience matters when it comes to bank connectivity, so ask your vendor early on what type of connection methods they recommend for your banks, talk to some of their existing customers, and tell your banks that you plan on purchasing a TMS so you understand the timelines that will be involved.
Knowledge and experience
Knowledge and experience are essential to have in a TMS vendor—not just knowledge of the product, but of the treasury industry as a whole. When you are implementing your TMS, you want someone who can talk treasury and work together with you to come up with an appropriate, strategic solution. In addition, you likely want someone who can provide best practices on how to make your treasury operations more efficient. You don’t want to just replicate the same processes when implementing a workstation; chances are, you want to improve upon them.
Communication is critical to success. However, everyone is comfortable with their own forms of communication. Some users are comfortable with email, others prefer onsite visits, speaking on the phone, visual communication through project plans and Gantt charts, etc. Figure out what form of communication makes your team most comfortable and tell your vendor in advance so they can ensure communication is handled in the preferred manner.
There are times in all relationships where one party either sets unrealistic expectations or fails to communicate them, and a workstation implementation is no different. False timeline expectations and the inability to follow through not only can hurt the project, they can hurt the relationship. The fact is, timelines can change due to a variety of reasons and it is important to avoid the blame game. Instead, focus on noting changing timelines as early as possible, and ensure you are adapting along the way.
If you know resources are going to be an issue, then set your project deadlines accordingly. It might be beneficial to have “flex dates” versus setting a firm “go-live” date if you are unsure how much time you can dedicate to your project.
And the rose goes to…
When evaluating your options for a treasury workstation, make sure you think about the big picture before making your selection. The process does not stop after the initial implementation; it should continue to evolve over time and be a long-term relationship. In the end, the choice is yours; the wise organization selects a partner who brings out the best in you and your team.
Yvonne Chan is director, solutions delivery, GTreasury.
A longer version of this article appears in an upcoming edition of AFP Exchange.