A Pioneer of Treasury Efficiency and Automation
by Martin Schlageter, Head of Treasury Operations, Roche
Over the past decade, Roche has developed a world-class global treasury organisation, a process that has been distinguished by the close collaboration between treasury and IT to become a key service provider to the business. Since 2007 when Roche first featured its SAP implementation in TMI, treasury and IT have gone on to optimise many of its treasury processes. Most recently, Marco Brähler described Roche’s automated SAP and SWIFT-based confirmation exchange and matching solution. In this edition, we are delighted to welcome Martin Schlageter who describes how Roche’s treasury has continued to leverage its centralised platform to centralise and optimise processes, and enhance the value it offers to the group.
Corporate treasury is often not well understood by the wider business – and vice versa - so as a result, treasury often becomes disconnected with the needs of the organisation which in turn limits its value. Since we first launched our in-house bank in 2004, which has been a major collaboration between treasury and IT, we have transformed our role and recognition within the Roche group. Initially, our focus was to centralise treasury activities across the group, which then extended to implementing our payments factory and subsequently, to develop our capabilities in a range of ancillary functions. By doing so, we are now firmly positioned as a value-added business partner to entities across the group, with close co-operation to facilitate growth and manage risk.
The basis of our success
Critical to our success in achieving this has been the use of a common technical platform, based on SAP, which we leverage consistently across treasury and our business units, supplemented with specialist capabilities such as SWIFT and multi-bank dealing portals as required. While vendors frequently offer a ‘seamless’ integration experience, using a common platform has enabled us to achieve a far higher level of integration, automation and consistency in the way that we share data across the business than many others. As a result, we have become a centre of excellence for treasury, accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank relationship management etc. We now connect 211 participants across 51 countries and 44 currencies into our cash pools, and settle 2.6 million intercompany invoices totalling CHF 112bn each year. As we all speak the same IT language, have visibility over the same information and share a common understanding of the way that data is presented, we are able to build trusted relationships more easily and establish our reputation for service excellence.
A pioneer of cash management efficiency
One of the unique facets of our treasury function has been the early adoption of both ‘payments on behalf of’ (POBO) and ‘collections on behalf of’ (COBO). While many companies have been successful in centralising payments, including POBO, many others have found centralising collections, and establishing COBO more challenging. There are various reasons for this: some commercial, as sales teams may be uncomfortable with introducing an additional party into customer relationships, while others are more technical, such as the use of multiple collection instruments, formats and systems. Roche’s integrated, cohesive systems environment, and close partnership with the business, have been key factors in successfully implementing both POBO and COBO.