Cash & Working CapitalTechnology

Flexing Front Office Tech Muscle to Aggregate and Analyze Data

By May 4, 2023No Comments

Using Tableau to collect and aggregate data, a Salesforce treasury manager sidesteps IT to build a cash dashboard.

Having a dashboard showing where all a corporate’s cash is invested, how much yield it’s generating and the company’s exposure to numerous counterparties—on a daily basis—is not just a dream for one member of NeuGroup for Cash InvestmentsCam Bowen, senior treasury manager at Salesforce, impressed peers at the group’s first-half meeting sponsored by DWS last week by presenting a dashboard he built himself that does all that and more.

  • His accomplishment validates the idea that technology developed by front office finance professionals who take matters into their own hands rather than wait for internal IT departments to come to their aid can help finance teams report valuable analytics to senior executives and the C-Suite faster and more efficiently.
  • Carlos Fernandez, a DWS coverage support specialist for Corporates & Insurance, praised the company: “By adopting cloud infrastructure and DaaS (data-as-a-service), Salesforce is moving forward with diminishing lines between technology and the front office to quickly create views and dashboards without dependency or need for time-consuming and costly IT projects.”
  • One of the members wowed by the presentation added, “The project highlighted that treasury orgs don’t need a large, dedicated team of data scientists to unlock insights from their own data.”
  • Mr. Bowen said, “We built this all, front office. If we had waited for the IT team to build some of this, we’d still be waiting.”

Self-built, self-serve and mobile. To build the global cash dashboard, Mr. Bowen taught himself how to use Tableau, the data visualization tool owned by Salesforce. “I used Tableau Prep to aggregate our data,” he explained. The so-called ETL (extract, transform, load) tool allows the company to refresh its data, daily, in less than two minutes.

  • Daily dashboard updates let Salesforce group cash across regions and obtain better summarized information about the location of its funds, overall allocations and how much it has with each counterparty.
  • Also, “all of the dashboard views filter the other views, so I can see, for example, how much a region has in money market funds,” he said. (This function of toggling data and diving deeper into a specific area is called drilling down.)
  • “I would describe this dashboard as self-serve,” he added. “Users can go in and answer any question they may have about our cash.” See the charts below for some of the views offered by the dashboard.
  • “If you go into an entity, you can see what cash it has, what it’s yielding, what currency it’s in, etc.—all at the click of a button,” he said. “When the SVB crisis hit, our AT knew within minutes how much cash we had. She didn’t need to go to us first before going to the CFO.”
    • That ability, said one peer, shows the dashboards “provide near real-time visibility into cash balances, counterparty exposures and earned interest rates”—something many corporates do not have.
  • A mobile app means the Salesforce cash dashboard is available on a smartphone, a feature the peer described in glowing terms: “The ability to access and analyze this mission-critical data on one’s mobile phone from anywhere, anytime (i.e. the tarmac while waiting for one’s airplane to take off) is a game-changer.”

How it works. Mr. Bowen provided NeuGroup Insights with this synopsis of how the system he created operates:

  • “Our TMS on a daily basis sends out an email with the cash balances, and these are downloaded daily to our shared drive.
  • “Monthly Excel yields per account are kept and are updated on a monthly basis.
  • “Tableau Prep adds yields to each account and adds a group counterparty field based on an ‘if contains’ logic because the report out of the TMS sends local branch bank names.
  • “FX rates are piped into our TMS; but if not, that would be easy enough to use a Bloomberg pull in Excel to build into the workflow.
  • “Once the Tableau hyper file is updated, we post the Tableau workbook with the dashboard up to our Tableau server.”

Peer perspective, self-enablement. One member of the group who found the dashboard presentation extremely compelling offered several takeaways, including:

  • “By leveraging Tableau Prep, Salesforce was able to combine, shape and clean its bank data, which saves countless hours of manual work typically performed in Excel or other spreadsheet solutions.
  • “The Salesforce team was able to use JOIN clauses and other low-code Tableau scripts to combine bank data from dozens of disparate sources and present that financial information in an elegant series of robust data visualizations.
  • “By leveraging their existing TMS and creating a daily balances report, Salesforce reduced the friction involved in logging into individual bank portals in order to obtain the latest financial information.”

Mr. Fernandez of DWS summed up the big picture significance of Mr. Bowen’s technology feat: “As treasury and cash management professionals, an ability to pivot and adjust to a heightened demand for transparent reporting is key in today’s environment. The Salesforce cash dashboard is an excellent example of how leading organizations are empowering self-enablement.”

Justin Jones

Author Justin Jones

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