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DIY: Treasury Shouldn’t Leave the Build-Out to the Vendor

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 10/25/2016

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A treasury executive from one of the top high fashion houses in the world provided AFP Annual Conference attendees with a glimpse into how her organization implemented a treasury and risk management system on Tuesday morning. Perhaps the most important takeaway from the session is that treasury should not just sit back and let the vendor do all the work.

“I made it known up front that I wanted to be involved in every hands-on part of the system build,” said Kimberly Karg, CTP, assistant treasurer of Chanel, recalling how her organization implemented a treasury and risk management solution. In 2012, Chanel’s largely decentralized treasury function embarked on a multiyear plan to set itself up as an integrated worldwide support function. To accomplish this, it brought together its disparate systems into one cloud-based solution that supported local, regional and global/corporate needs.

But Karg was not content to leave the implementation process up to the vendor, Reval. “The heavy lifting was done at the top of the pyramid by global treasury and Kim’s team,” said Patrick Cannon, executive vice president, Client Services, Reval. “You want to have an individual who is 100 percent dedicated to the project. That certainly was the case at Chanel.”

Furthermore, if corporate end-users view themselves as more than end-users, they ultimately become fluent in the vendor’s solution, Cannon added. “They’re involved in the design and the configuration; they really understand those key decisions that are put in place, and that definitely happened here and continues to this day,” he said. “They are the subject matter experts and they’re able to elevate the conversation within Chanel, but also with ourselves on the vendor side.”

Karg added that treasury rarely has the luxury of being able to dedicate one person to a project, 100 percent. Fortunately for her, she began reviewing vendor demos her second week on the job at Chanel, which afforded her the chance to make the implementation her primary focus. “It’s really allowed us to have the subject matter expertise, in-house—especially when you’re working with a SaaS solution and you frankly don’t have the IT support, in-house,” she said. “A lot of times, the vendor may say to you, ‘Let us input your trades, let us build an entity for you, let us do some of those menial tasks.’ But at the time I said, ‘No, let me do that.’”

Building out that static data—the foundation of the system—allowed Karg to really understand the architecture behind the system. “We have so many moving parts and different parts of the system talking to one another,” she said. “Knowing that system architecture is going to make you the subject matter expert.”

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