A cash manager with staff across the globe considers how technology may reshape and resize his team.
Strategically important goals are the new organizational focus for one NeuGroup member who leads a cash management team of nearly 50 people at a sprawling global company that has a new CEO.
- At a recent meeting, the member described the structure and responsibilities of his staff today and how rationalization and an increased focus on technology may change his use of resources in the future.
Centralized control, regional expertise. The member explained that the company’s current “centralized control structure” consists of regional treasury centers in Asia, Europe and the Western Hemisphere along with a central technology and accounting solutions team.
- A table he presented showed the number of directors, managers, supervisors, analysts and admins or interns in these areas.
- The regional centers focus on supporting the business, optimizing liquidity, and protecting the cash held at the company’s 1000+ bank accounts across 125 banks in about 80 countries.
The importance of audits. “We spend a lot of time and energy on audits,” the member said. Peers were intrigued by a slide he showed indicating whether a given activity performed by cash management required a low, medium or high “resource requirement” in each of the three regions and the solutions group.
- Audits of electronic banking platforms, signatories, and self-audits drive “high” resource requirements in each of the four groups.
- In response to a question, the member said the requirements mandated by Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) partly explain the intensity of the audit process. Also:
- “We’re very controlling as an organization, so we’re going to audit the heck out of everything,” he said.
- Other categories on the resource requirement table include accounting, analytics, core treasury, cash concentration and settlements, and special projects.
How to rationalize? “There are a lot of things we want to do differently,” the member said. The driving factors in figuring out what will change involve the increased focus on technology, consolidating tasks and eliminating non-value added activities. A summary of initiatives along these focal points was shared with the group, including:
- Automation: The treasury solutions team is piloting robotic process automation (RPA) to minimize or eliminate human touch points in daily processes. RPA coding will be done within treasury with assistance from the company’s robotics center of excellence within the IT function.
- Consolidation: Opportunities exist to consolidate same or similar tasks done in all regional treasury centers, yielding efficiency and expertise benefits. Examples include administration of electronic banking platforms and of bank guarantee and trade letters of credit.
- The company did mapping with a consultant to determine if and how areas can be consolidated and asked, “Why can’t we do this in one spot?” he said.
- Elimination: An emphasis on truly important goals creates an opportunity to review all existing work to determine what is absolutely necessary. This means “challenging every process” and asking, “Can we turn this off?” he said.
Feedback. In a great example of how the NeuGroup Process works best, the member made clear he wanted feedback from his peers on the structure and staffing of his cash management organization.
- One member said while his company has a similar number of people in cash management, there is no accounting arm within treasury.
- Another member said of the staffing levels, “These numbers look a little high,” adding that accounting at her company is part of shared services.
- A third person said she found reviewing the presenter’s staffing levels “extremely valuable” and that looking at the time and resource intensity of various processes is a “good starting point” to leverage going forward.