Turning your TMS into a Ferrari
By Michael Juen, Chief Customer Officer, BELLIN
Consulting and implementation guidance are vital parts of any treasury management system roll-out. After all, any system is only ever as good as its users and the workflows surrounding it. But how can treasurers get the most bang for their buck when it comes to TMS consulting – and are there convincing arguments for a no-guidance approach?
You can buy the fastest car in the world, with all of the latest gadgets, but if you don’t have a driving licence, leveraging all of the car’s functionalities from the get-go will be extremely tough. Performing a treasury management system (TMS) implementation without consulting is similar – you’re unlikely to be able to make the most of your investment, certainly not within a short time-frame.
Of course, not everyone wants or needs the fastest car. Some just require a mode of transport to get from A to B safely – but critically, they want to be able to set out on their journey ASAP. As such, it is not uncommon for treasurers to request an out-of-the-box system, with one of the main requirements being speedy implementation.
In this instance, treasurers are rarely looking for any kind of consulting. They want the car manual – in other words the technical TMS implementation – and they want to be firmly in the driving seat of the project. The rise of cloud computing has aided this approach, since treasurers can now deploy a cloud TMS with minimal disruption and zero on-premise work. Training on the system and any basic configurations can also be delivered remotely, freeing up time for ever-busy treasurers.
This kind of low-touch TMS implementation offers obvious time and cost benefits. And many companies can configure their chosen TMS to take advantage of its basic functionalities without significant external help. This is like getting in an automatic car – you just switch on the ignition, select ‘drive’, release the handbrake, press the accelerator and away you go.
Revving the engine
Nevertheless, a TMS implementation without consulting is unlikely to extract maximum added value. A consultant can take the technical functionalities of a system and marry them with expertise around how the system can support processes, simplify workflows, create operational efficiencies, and improve cash visibility and security – to deliver a ‘full package’ solution.
After all, the functionality of a system is a prerequisite; consulting is the more exciting part as it injects fuel into the TMS engine, through knowledge transfer. This is not to say that consulting has to be incredibly in-depth. Cases can be made for different levels of consulting, depending on the desired results. But the more entrenched the consultant is in the implementation and the better they understand your treasury function’s workflows, the more knowledge they can impart from other projects to ensure that best practice is embodied. The right consultants can also give advice on restructuring treasury activities to enable greater efficiencies in the age of digital transformation.
Choose the fast lane
So, when you’re thinking about going through an RFP for a new TMS, it’s worth adding consulting from a potential TMS vendor into the mix if you’re looking to get as much mileage as possible out of your system – and also if you’re keen to future-proof your tech set-up. Ask TMS providers to put forward their best suggestions for a system implementation based on challenges and goals outlined by the corporate. Often the solution will be more imaginative and more responsive to the corporate’s particular needs if open-ended questions are asked.
This type of approach does require a consultant with sound treasury knowledge, however, as they truly understand the demands of the role, and what is required of a TMS. At BELLIN, all of our certified consultants are experts in the field of treasury.
As such, our consultants can determine how factors such as the number of entities the company has, the different currencies it uses, and its bank connectivity channels, will impact any TMS implementation. They will also take account of liquidity forecasting and risk management challenges.
Call in the mechanics
While having in-depth consulting knowledge in-house at a systems provider is key, it is also important to recognise when to partner with external experts. A perfect combination of in-house consulting from a systems provider and qualified certified and competent external implementation partners can make a real difference – especially when working in challenging or unique markets, such as Japan.
With this collaborative approach, BELLIN leverages the local knowledge of external consultants, and combines that with in-house subject matter experts, to create a powerful solution for the client. That said, we also recognise the different implementation approaches that corporates require. As a result, we have developed three levels of consulting that represent this:
- Get Started. This pillar is perfect for clients who simply want an out-of-the-box solution and are looking only for configuration support. It can be provided to the customer within two working days, and the configuration support can be provided 100% remotely by our consultants. This can start the moment that the system is made available to the client
- Joint Implementation. Building on the previous pillar, this level offers consulting during the implementation phase, regarding the usage of the system and training, for example. This pillar is beneficial for the more complex parts of a configuration and also contains on-site consulting
- Comprehensive Consulting. This pillar sits on top of the other two and is the most in-depth consulting approach. Examples of Comprehensive Consulting topics include:
– Developing operational and organisational structures
– Developing and implementing FX risk hedging strategies for individual subsidiaries or a whole group of companies
– Preparing policies and manuals
– Selecting banking partners and introducing cash pools
– Reducing the number of individual payment transactions
– Enhanced project management
– Streamlining intercompany relationships by establishing netting structures