After months of research and consultation with treasury technology experts, bobsguide has identified four main stages of treasury management system selection and implementation, which we introduced last week:
1. Assemble your team
2. Settle on the system requirements
3. Meet with the vendors, and test the systems
4. Make your selection, and put it into place.
In the previous instalment of bob’s guide to treasury management systems, we looked at the first two of these: How to bring together the best people in the organisation to oversee the TMS selection and implementation, and how to determine what the business requires from a new treasury solution. Today we’re going to cover meeting with the TMS vendors, testing the systems, and making a final selection.
Missed part one? Catch up here.
3) MEET WITH THE VENDORS, AND TEST THE SYSTEMS
By now, the treasury team should have a shortlist of possible systems that are right for the company. The next step is to meet with the vendors, and run the prospective systems through their paces with a test run.
Meeting with the vendor is a chance to ask questions about the system and determine whether it can handle business(-critical?) operations in a more efficient way, serving the needs of the company now and in the future, which can take the form of a presentation.
Enrico Camerinelli, a senior analyst from Aite Group, says that the vendor must show knowledge of treasury operations and have done similar implementations in the past. He recommends that before meeting, the buyer prepares a set of business scenarios, so that the vendor can present how their solution will address those issues, and resolve them differently from how the company currently does.
What questions should I ask the vendor?
“The vendor presentation agenda should be set by the buyer and agreed with the vendor,” says Ken Lillie of treasury technology consultancy firm Lillie Associates. “Ask questions about functionality as listed in the requirements definition, [and] ask about implementation resource requires, [such as] time scales.”
Richard Warren, a senior manager at consultancy firm Brickendon, recommends that during the meeting with the vendor, buyers ask the following questions:
Is the solution customisable to the workflows of the business, or will the business have to re-engineer existing flows and retrain staff to fit the TMS software? “An extensible solution for all workflows is a must and ensures the system is easily upgradable for future requirements,” he says.
Are the support staff available 24 hours? Check the support line staff, Warren says. Do they answer when the business calls with a problem or query, and can they help? Also, and even more importantly if the business operates around the world: Is the support available in your language?
Where else has the TMS been deployed and are there any similar use cases or workflows and operating models? “If the vendor can articulate an understanding of your business it is likely that they have similar clients already successfully using their software,” Warren says.
If this is the case, it may be possible to learn from these companies, and how they work with the system.
Can I learn from how others have used the system?
There is no need to go into this process blind. With some research, treasury teams can see how other similar businesses use their treasury software and acquire an understanding of leading industry practices.
Lillie says that although such information, beyond vendor-sponsored case studies, is not publicly available, it may be possible to obtain by speaking to colleagues and associates in other companies to understand their experiences. Buyers might also consider working with a specialist consultant, who should have experience with a number of implementations – on a no-names basis, he adds.
Buyers can also get this information from the Request for Proposal and Request for Information processes used when evaluating potential suppliers, Warren says. “These systems can be very expensive, so suppliers are keen to conduct demonstrations based on the use-cases of their anonymised existing clients.”
He adds: “Setting one-day workshops with the company’s key stakeholders is a great way to see and challenge the processes and functionality. To maximise the value of the vendor-selection process, scoring should be applied by an internal team with experience and knowledge of the business and functional requirements.”
Can I test drive any transactions?
After an initial meeting with the vendor, and during a second more detailed workshop, when the shortlist of vendors is down to two or three, buyers can ‘test drive’ some transactions in their propective systems, Lillie says.
Camerinelli says that test driving some transactions in the vendors’ systems will give buyers an idea of how flexible and adaptable the system is. “The company cannot expect to have all the problems solved during the demo sessions, but the level of appreciation of the flexibility of the system must be ensured within the user community,” he says.
4) MAKE YOUR SELECTION, AND PUT IT INTO PLACE
By now, buyers should be in a position to make an informed decision about which treasury management solution to invest in. Meetings or workshops with the vendor will give an idea of how long the implementation will take, and internal discussion within the company will determine who should be involved in the process. But how much will it cost?
How much is this all going to cost?
Our research found cost to be treasurers’ second greatest concern when it comes to implementing a TMS. 58% of survey respondents selected ‘cost’ as one of their greatest concerns, putting it not far behind the top concern, ‘difficulty integrating new solution seamlessly with existing systems’, selected by 62%.
So how can buyers get an idea of how much a new treasury management solution will cost before implementation starts?
The cost of the system can depend on a number of issues depending on the individual supplier, Lillie says, but initial conversations with vendors will give buyers a guide to costs.
He continues: “The system may be modular so you pay for the modules you need, complexity of instruments used, accounting requirements (e.g. hedge accounting), connectivity to TMS (banks, market, rates, dealing systems, etc.), number of users, etc.”
The system may be “bought” for a one-off licence upfront, with ongoing maintenance and support fees as a percentage of the original cost, or rented for a monthly fee (typically the case for SaaS solutions) after an initial set up cost, Lillie says.
“The vendor will also charge consulting fees for implementation at a daily rate or for a fixed price so discuss these at the outset.”
It’s worth remembering that no single system can do everything the business needs. This is why getting the selection process right is so important – the key is picking the best possible one.
Next week, in the final instalment of the bob’s guide to treasury management systems series, we’ll look at how to keep disruption of day-to-day treasury operations to a minimum during the TMS implementation process.
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