Treasury teams and systems are facing major challenges as technology advances rapidly.
Bank solutions in combination with Accounting, ERP and TMS systems, make up the range of tools used by treasuries. All of these tools, however, are experiencing major technological upheaval, presenting unique challenges for treasurers.
Treasurers need to ask themselves whether their tools and their teams are ready to keep up with the changing landscape. Automation and new integrations into systems will fundamentally reshape the work of corporate finance departments. This means that skilled employees undertaking tasks like manually reconciling paper bank statements or depositing cheques will be a thing of the past.
Other developments currently taking place in some banks include systems that enable transactions to be reconciled into ledgers in near real-time. Those same banks can also leverage contextual data from the client’s environment to increase the number of items that match automatically, thereby freeing up team members to work on more valuable tasks.
New technology is becoming available that is helping to intercept even the most sophisticated of fraudsters. As an example, real time systems for flagging of anomalies in payments can help treasurers get ahead of fraud.
Treasury departments can now use these new innovations to help broaden their access to credit. Banks have started to offer additional credit automatically as the financial position of a treasury department improves, or when an asset such as inventory increases. This eliminates the need to fax loan applications to the bank.
Overall, I sense that banks are starting to become more efficient operating partners. Deep integrations to treasury tools will let banks examine at a glance, purchases and sales orders and determine whether a finance dept. Is carrying to much euro exposure, or not enough Australian dollars, as an example. This kind of 2 way data exchange and the establishment of the bank as a trusted advisor and custodian corporate customer data opens up a whole new world of efficiency.
What is Blocking the Way to Further Advancement?
Benefiting from these TMS and ERP advancements may be more difficult for many finance departments than they realize. Limitations in software and IT capabilities can create obstacles. Because of the breadth of business functions they are used for, accounting and ERP systems can’t be replaced easily. These kind of systems must make room for evolving business requirements over the course of the next several years, making it difficult for treasurers to quickly adapt. In addition to being confined to their existing tools and systems, treasury and finance professionals must also navigate the intricacies of multiple banking relationships.
When assessing if their existing systems are a good fit for their needs, and how they can leverage new technologies such as open banking and APIs, treasurers should carry out an exhaustive review of their operations. The key elements of the review include:
- Observe business processes- If it seems like there should be a better way of doing certain tasks, there probably is. This could mean re-evaluating the way you do certain tasks such as payroll approvals. Adopting a more automated and integrated process will require new ways of thinking.
- Communicate needs with your banking partners- Don’t hesitate to reach out to your banking partners to let them know what kind of services you are looking for. You might be surprised by how many banks now integrate with businesses to enable invoice to be paid directly into accounting and ERP systems, for example, rather than relying on manual processes. Many banks will have early access to these innovative programs for interested companies. You could also consider taking advantage of a potential pilot. It never hurts to ask!
- Get buy-in form IT- IT is is a good position to streamline the integration process. First, you should make sure that your IT dept. Understands the importance of the capabilities you are trying to build into your current solutions. They should also be made aware of the challenges and opportunities that you’ll face in your industry. Having the right IT partners will make preparing for new developments such as APIs and Open Banking so much easier.
- Prioritize tool flexibility- First of all, find out whether your vendor has a marketplace. The best systems will have at least a handful of vendors in their marketplace for everything you search, including accounts payables automation, tax reporting and cash forecasting. It is also a good idea to find out whether the system includes APIs, or tools that will make it easy to develop integrations to banks and other systems. Cloud-based systems will also provide better flexibility and capabilities than on-prem solutions.
From becoming more efficient to reducing fraud, automation and emerging technologies have the potential to be extremely beneficial to corporate finance departments. But in order to make the most of these innovations, treasurers need to find a way to navigate around rigid, inflexible systems and complex integrations.
That’s where future-proofing finance tools can make all the difference. A number of strategies – including searching for systems that can easily integrate with third parties and communicating specific needs to banks – can help prepare finance tools for a new era of innovation.