There’s an App for That
by Helen Sanders, Editor
Treasury management systems (TMS) have become impressively sophisticated since the early days of telex machines (which I battled with daily) blue screens (which I didn’t understand) and mile-long perforated paper with holes along the edges (despite the secondary advantages for impressive children’s drawings that covered the entire floor). While ‘vintage’ home décor and clothing have become fashionable, few people are keen to see a return to impenetrable reporting, the catastrophic ‘blue screen of death’ as it was affectionately known in our office, or days of training to perform relatively basic activities. Although TMS are now highly functional, flexible and far easier to use than their more troublesome predecessors, innovation in treasury technology is as important today as it was fifteen or twenty years ago. Instead of focusing on core functionality, however, usability, accessibility and interoperability are now amongst the most important priorities.
An important development over the past few years has been the emergence of new adoption models that shift the responsibility for hosting and maintaining the TMS from the user organisation to the vendor or a third party. Originally, this model was described as an ASP or application service provider, which often simply meant that the system was hosted by the vendor, but the technology itself remained unchanged. More recently, managed services have evolved significantly. Software as a service (Saas) is a term commonly used, and essentially means that a user accesses a central application or integrated group of applications, usually via a web-based interface. The vendor manages the system, including upgrades and maintenance, and implementation may also be more straightforward. Saas is one aspect of ‘cloud’ technology, allowing users remote access not only to software applications, but also storage, platforms, security, infrastructure etc. Most TMS vendors are embracing the concept of cloud technology, although this may mean slightly different things in each case. Ben Stollard, Vice President, Northern Europe, Kyriba discusses,
“Use of cloud-based technology in treasury has become far more popular in recent years, pioneered by companies such as Kyriba, which was an early adopter of cloud technology. Initial concerns about security and volume processing were quickly dispelled and we are seeing accelerating adoption amongst our customers as they recognise the benefits of maintaining a single version of the software. These include the enhanced ability to invest in new functionality and the reduction in internal IT resources required to support the system.”
The ability to access a TMS without the need for significant IT resourcing and investment in infrastructure, plus easier implementation and maintenance, enables all companies large enough to have a distinct treasury function to make use of a specialist system. There is therefore no longer justification for treasury departments to use manual processes or spreadsheets for recording and reporting treasury activities. However, as Ben Stollard, Kyriba explains, this message has not yet been disseminated across the full spectrum of corporations,
“In most cases, FTSE100 companies that are now selecting a TMS are replacing existing technology. However, as you move into the FTSE 250 and beyond, many enterprises are selecting and implementing treasury technology for the first time.”
The increased focus on audit compliance on one hand, and senior management’s interest in achieving visibility and control over liquidity and risk on the other, together create a compelling business proposition for acquiring the use of a TMS.