Choosing a treasury management system (TMS) is a big decision for any treasury function. In an upcoming Treasury in Practice Guide, underwritten by Kyriba, multiple treasury professionals will share their stories of selecting new systems, as well as provide some helpful tips for practitioners who are beginning the process.
In early 2017, the treasury department at Duracell began researching treasury workstations to handle its cash management and forecasting needs. Up until this point, these tasks were handled manually through Excel. “We really wanted a system that would provide flexibility, as well as configuration,” Gilbert said. “We didn’t want an out-of-the-box system where we would have to go back and pay an arm and a leg for additional support to get the reporting and the cash forecasting that we needed.”
Duracell also needed a workstation that could handle bank account management. “Our company is in a unique situation in that we’re a very decentralized organization, and here at treasury HQ, we operate centrally,” Gilbert explained. “We wanted to be able to provide a system for us to be able to bring all of these sources of information in and have it in one place for these decentralized pockets all over the world.”
Fortunately, treasury didn’t have a difficult time building a business case for purchasing and implementing a TMS. Senior leadership understood the need to streamline processes, so treasury received their buy-in quickly.
It also helped that Duracell’s treasury team knew exactly what it wanted. Nearly every vendor in the market had what they were looking for, so they quickly pared the list down to a handful of potential candidates. One of those candidates was a strong contender, however, Gilbert quickly picked up on some signs that it could cause some trouble for Duracell down the road.
“It was a great system, but it’s very out-of-the-box, and the ability for you to reconfigure, run special reports and make those reports fit your organization is very difficult. And you would have to reach out to their team to build any custom reports—if that is even possible to do. They promised us that would be no problem, but I know from previous experience with that vendor that’s not always the case,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert and her team ultimately settled on a TMS in October 2017, and began implementation in early December. The system had the functionality that Duracell was looking for, and they trusted the vendor's team for any further assistance. The system is set to go live very soon.
Gilbert provided some helpful hints for practitioners on beginning the RFP process and dealing with the vendors.
Document your current process. When preparing the RFP, it is very critical that you carefully display how difficult your current processes are so that you can truly show the benefit of a TMS. “How much time is this going to save you? What value is it going to bring to the organization? These things are key in any RFP,” Gilbert said.
Trust, but verify. Many vendors exaggerate and even lie. Therefore, it can help to read up on their systems ahead of time so that you have a good sense of what they can and can’t offer you. “It can be very easy for a vendor to come in and create a demo around what you’re looking for. But if you’re not truly knowledgeable about systems, you can be bamboozled,” Gilbert said. “I’ve had quite a few vendors try and sweet talk me; one was practically handing out the box for free. At one point, I asked, ‘Where do you guys make money in this situation? Surely it’s more than just having our name affixed to your pamphlet.’”
Don’t lose sight of your goal. Gilbert stressed the importance of being objective when scoring vendors. She admitted that some of the vendors that were promising her team the moon initially received high marks on their scorecards. “The easier they make the implementation sound, you want to go forward with that, and you’ll lose sight of what you’re looking for in the system,” she said. “I had to regroup my team quite a few times and say, ‘Let’s not lose sight of what our ultimate goal is for a workstation.’”
Don’t miss Mary Gilbert’s session, Choosing a TMS That's Right for Your Treasury, at AFP 2018. Register by May 18 to save $625.