So far in the bob’s guide to treasury management systems series, we’ve looked at how organisations can determine whether they need a TMS, the kinds of systems that are available, and what treasury professionals should consider before making their selection. Now it’s time for the nitty gritty – implementation.
As we’ve covered in previous instalments of the series, the importance of ensuring a new treasury system is properly implemented cannot be understated. Get it wrong and not only might the new software make everyday operations more cumbersome and less efficient, but the treasury team will be driven back to old systems, and the time and resources taken to install the solution will have been wasted.
“You might have chosen the right system, but if it’s mis-implemented, or ill-implemented, then your user won’t be able to use it. They’ll go back to the spreadsheet,” says Dimos Dimitriadis, partner and founder of consultancy Treasury Technology Associates.
It’s a concern shared by many of you when it comes to TMS implementation. In our treasury management systems survey among bobsguide readers, conducted earlier this year, ‘difficulty integrating new solution seamlessly with existing systems’ emerged as the top concern about implementing a TMS, with 62% respondents selecting it, closely followed by cost, at 58%.
By working closely with the vendor, and a consultancy if necessary, treasury teams can ensure their new system is optimally configured for their everyday operations. But during this transitional period, which calls upon many different players with many different roles, how can treasury teams avoid disruption to their day-to-day operations? The first step is preparation.
How can my treasury team prepare for the TMS implementation process?
Before implementation even begins, treasury teams must organise which personnel are going to be involved, and who will work closest with the vendor during the process. We covered assembling a team in an earlier instalment of this series. The next step is establishing a relationship with the vendor.
Patrick Cannon, head of professional services and customer success for SaaS provider Reval, says that the key to successful implementation is to involve the vendor’s professional service team early – in the pre-sales process. “Engagement starts with an understanding and alignment of the client’s vision,” he says.
Corporate treasury teams need to have better alignment internally as well, he adds. “[They need] a clear understanding and commitment to achieving the business goals in a deployment, top to bottom.
“Where projects succeed or fail is measured by the organisation’s clarity of vision and designation of an executive sponsor – there needs to be an internal counterpart to the vendor who works in step to achieving value in the relationship.”
Mathilde Sanson, chief client officer at cloud treasury solutions provider Kyriba, says that assuming evaluation of the TMS is complete, and that an extensive list of requirements was identified during that stage, the implementation process will be smoother, guided with clear business requirements.
To prepare for a TMS implementation, she says, “a treasury team should understand the strategic functions of the organisation that they wish to automate, where in their workflows they would benefit from increased financial controls, security, auditability”.
She continues: “Having their requirements understood by the implementation consultants will help to ensure the project is completed according to plan.”
Cannon suggests a straightforward way of confirming mutual understanding of the project, and what it is expected to deliver: “If I were part of a corporate treasury team, I would want professional services to articulate my vision back to me to make sure they understand what I want to achieve, and leave no stone unturned when it comes to functionality and what the system can do.”
What are some setbacks we need to be prepared for?
With so many individuals from different teams involved in TMS implementation, and many moving parts in the system itself, it’s expected to hit a few obstacles on the journey. What should treasury teams expect, and how can they prepare for any setbacks?
“Many project risks can be identified during the discovery process and mitigation plans can be made,” Sanson says. “Good communication and a prepared client-vendor team can resolve and smooth out most bumps on the implementation road.”
For Cannon, sticking to project best practices, including open communication, regular status reports, and strong governance, is crucial for keeping the wheels moving. “Don’t underestimate the commitment to getting this right,” he says.
Depending on the complexity of the system, and the nature of the organisation, it can take six, 12, even up to 18 months to fully implement a TMS. There’s a risk the project will lose momentum, that the project will take even longer, that it will be disruptive, and treasury teams could lose enthusiasm.
Sanson, like Cannon, recommends executive sponsorship and regularly scheduled status calls to ensure there is ongoing triage and prioritisation to meet goals.
She continues: “A treasury team should expect to have a clearly defined process with key milestones and checkpoints identified to recognise progress and maintain quality controls.”
Lars Schroeder, senior engagement manager at consultancy SkySparc, says that working with a consultancy can take some of the load off the treasury team during TMS implementation, particularly when it comes to testing.
“We help with implementing the new system, by allowing our clients to learn the new system but without doing all the testing which can be boring for them,” he says.
Five tips for avoiding disruption during TMS implementation:
Sanson has five tips for treasury teams looking to minimise disruption during TMS implementation:
Establish your team lead and main point of contact. “This person should be able to validate processes against the state requirements,” she says.
Ensure the initial discovery phase is a priority for your internal stakeholders. “Having all the requirements agreed upon up front will greatly reduce day-to-day disruption.”
Communicate frequently and clearly about reaching check points and expected milestones. Ensuring everyone on the treasury team understands what should be done and when will keep the project on track.
Set aside a time in the day that you can dedicate to the implementation. “If you do this proactively, your meetings will be predictable and according to your schedule. If you cannot free up your staff from day-to-day roles then an external consultant should be hired to have the project move forward.”
Enable your vendor’s implementation team to become your trusted partner. “Not only will this increase productivity, but you will also gain more out of the process.”
Schroeder says that the key to avoiding disruption is involving the vendor in a “smart” way, “but it will depend on your size and ambition, and how much you want to outsource. If you are smart you can outsource the boring stuff and have your key people be involved in the interesting part”.
As is the case with many things, preparation is key to minimising disruption during a TMS implementation project. Success in implementation will depend on assembling the best possible team, ensuring everyone on the team has a defined role, and good communication with the vendor throughout the project.
Missed the first three articles of the series? Catch up here:
bob's guide to treasury management systems: About to invest in a new system? Read this first
bob’s guide to treasury management systems: How financial professionals can prepare for GDPR
bob’s guide to treasury management systems: How to tell if it’s time to invest in a TMS