Technology for Treasury Transformation
by Elisabeth Vendeville, Global Project Manager, GDF Suez
Prompted by the merger between Gaz de France and the Suez company, we conducted a review of our business-critical systems to ensure that the appropriate tools were in place to manage the new organisation and ensure that all possible synergies and efficiencies can be achieved. Treasury was a key part of this review as the merger resulted in higher transaction volumes and greater complexity.
Our main priority was to ensure that we had sufficiently robust financial systems and processes in place to support internal and external communication and be scalable enough to accommodate future growth, whilst minimising costs and maintaining shareholder and regulator confidence.
i) A primary challenge was determining how to empower subsidiaries, whilst ensuring we maintained transparency and control at a group level and could leverage the cost efficiencies and cohesive processes through shared services. We therefore needed an efficient cash management system that would support communication between group treasury and subsidiaries, and enable us to mobilise funds across the group as required. In particular, we wanted to be able to net cash surpluses in one part of the business with deficits in another to reduce borrowings.
ii) The merger between Gaz De France and the Suez Company resulted in a dramatic increase in transaction volumes, making our treasury operations significantly more complex. Small exception management processes had become administrative challenges and formerly minor exposures to risk had become sizeable. We therefore needed to find efficient ways to manage financial and operational risk at both a regional and global level.
iii) We recognised that it was important not only to optimise processes within treasury but to enhance the full payment value chain, from invoice through to approval, processing and transmission to the bank via SWIFT.
iv) We needed to ensure we were fully IFRS compliant at both a central and a regional level.
To achieve these objectives, we recognised that we needed a partner who understood our business processes, requirements, constraints and future strategy. A supplier needed to be able to support us at a local as well as group treasury level, and to have the expertise and experience to advise on industry best practices from a business process as well as technology perspective.