New technology such as RPA and data analytics help free up treasury staff to help the business meet strategic goals.
Assistant treasurers (ATs) highlighted their teams’ milestones over the previous year at a recent NeuGroup meeting, with several citing the development of skills and capabilities that helped automate time-consuming tasks inside and outside treasury.
- Massive debt deals and prolonged adoptions of SAP systems ranked high on the list of major accomplishments for several ATs, whose hard work brought the projects to fruition.
- But the initiatives drawing the most interest from peers involved innovative ways to automate operational activities, often using new technology, as treasury teams seek a greater role in their companies’ strategic decision-making.
Emphasizing data analytics. The AT of a technology firm said an emphasis for treasury staff at his company has been data analytics and process automation, “the skills of the future for our team.”
- So treasury partnered with the company’s internal analytics team, and data scientists and programmers conducted a series of training sessions for treasury staff, who proceeded to implement projects that have since gone live.
- They automated the entry of time deposits going into SAP as well as confirmations for time deposits and FX transactions, “particularly [non-deliverable swaps], which were always painful for us,” he said.
- He added that the treasury team members gaining an appreciation for the new technology and actually applying it was “invaluable for them personally.” It will enable them to better design bigger future projects that the data science team is working on, “and that’s going to feed into some of the other initiatives for us, like cash forecasting.”
Intelligent tools. The AT of a business-services firm listed an “intelligent cash tool,” as one of her team’s significant accomplishments. The tool automates cash forecasts by country and builds a cash inventory model that ensures the company has optimal cash in each country for operational purposes.
- “It’s a data analytics as well as predictive analytics tool that allowed us to significantly improve our cash flow forecasting processes, as well as really look at making sure we have the right cash in the right place at the right time, in automated way,” the AT said.
- A peer said his team’s director of cash operations developed a robotic process automation (RPA) tool tied to the SAP system that reviews bank signatories weekly across the company and provides reports on changes that need to be made.
- “It’s an automated process that’s been a huge win,” the AT said. “And as you can imagine, it reduces a lot of pain points and keeps us up to date.”
Helping the business. Noting that the “first pillar” of treasury’s strategy is to be a “trusted business partner,” one AT said his team partnered with Citi to leverage its payment-exchange platform.
- Previously, most claims payments were paid via paper check, a slow process for customers in which errors may not have been recognized for weeks. The Citi platform’s more dynamic payment capabilities include services such as Zelle and PayPal, which enables prepaid cards.
- It’s still in the pilot phase, the AT said, adding, “We’re excited to add value to the business through that initiative.”