Despite huge industry advancements that have produced solutions including hedging, cash pooling, sweeping, eBAM, FX forwards, etc., far too many treasury professionals are still struggling to meet the rapidly changing and growing demands of their day-to-day work, mired in manual processes or using solutions that aren’t appropriate for their situation.
At the 2016 AFP Annual Conference I heard lots of horror stories from organizations trying to make do with a treasury management system (TMS) that’s far too complicated for their needs, an issue that’s plagued the profession for ages. In Strategic Treasurer’s 2016 Rapid Research Survey, it was discovered that 40 percent of firms use less than 60 percent of the modules they contracted for in their TMS/TRMS system. While there are lots of reasons why that might be the case, from misunderstanding the functionality of the system to a lack of staffing to fully implement each module, the result is still the same: an organization lacks the necessary technology and processes to run their business efficiently.
Other organizations I spoke with experienced different roadblocks. The one I heard most frequently was sheer lack of time to investigate all of the new technology solutions that are now available. People know they need to do something, and they know there are plenty of solutions out there to meet their needs. But they don’t know where to start, who to talk to, what questions to ask, or how to even get an implementation project off the ground. It’s as though they’re standing on the ocean shore looking at the horizon and just can’t comprehend the enormity of what needs to be done. It’s overwhelming. So they do nothing, because knowing you have the option to do anything is the same as knowing you can do nothing.
Here are my recommendations for finally finding the cash management and financial process automation solution your organization needs operate at its peak.
- Start with building a process map. Just like a navigational map, a process map is a requirement if you want to end up at your desired destination. Choosing and implementing the correct payment and cash management solution for your organization is a significant undertaking. But it can be made easier if approached systematically. A process map will provide all stakeholders with a very clear understanding of what the needs and goals of the organization are, ensuring that you won’t get off track along the way. Cigna made very successful use of a process map when it implemented a global payments hub and SWIFT-based connectivity to its banking partners, a topic discussed at the AFP conference this year.
- List and prioritize pain points. It’s important to understand all of the specific challenges your organization faces—as well as the reasons behind them—so you know where you should focus your attention. For example, if lack of visibility into global cash position is a challenge, you need to understand why. Are you trying to consolidate information from a number of banks and just aren’t doing it effectively because of manual process limitations? Are you prevented from providing access needed to your treasury solution because cost is license-based? By understanding the “whys” behind your challenges, you’re in a much better position to find a solution that will be truly useful to your organization in the short, medium and long term.
- Address the pain points. It sounds overly simple, but the importance of this can’t be stressed enough. Even the best recipe will fail if you skip steps. Once you’ve clearly laid out your needs and objectives in a process map, then created a detailed list of pain points, in order of priority, the only thing left to do is act. Start talking to other practitioners about their successes. With a clear picture of where you need to be and how you’re going to get there, finding a solution to make it all happen will be significantly easier.
David Levine is director of product marketing for Bottomline Technologies.