Brian Tracy might have hit the nail on the head when he said “In a time of rapid change, standing still is the most dangerous course of action.” It's an idea that certainly rings true for financial professionals, working in an industry that is being transformed as we speak by rapidly advancing technology, new regulations and shifting economic landscapes. Corporate treasury departments can't afford to remain unchanged, as automation pushes out paper, payments become mobile and instant, and algorithms transform risk management and FX. So if your treasury is thinking about change, whether it's a centralisation project, implementing a payments factory or a new treasury management system (TMS), what are some of the factors to consider before you even begin?
1. Set out a clear case for change
One of the first actions is to assess why change is needed and then make the case clearly in front of the board. Some of the considerations include an analysis of current risks and the potential for reducing those risks. Regulatory requirements, technology developments and security issues should also be analysed as these will form part of a compelling argument for change.
2. Cost analysis
In the treasury business, we all know that money talks, so analysing the costs of the project, together with the cost-savings that will be achieved, is a crucial element in selling the idea to the board. Although implementing new systems, recruiting new talent or using the services of an external consultant are steep initial costs, they could be counterbalanced by long-term savings gained from more streamlined processes. Detailed analysis of all costs will make the case for change clear from the start.
3. Communication throughout the organisation
It's really essential to set out your vision for treasury change clearly, not just to the board of executives but also to colleagues throughout the company, particularly IT and tax, for example. It's essential to communicate plans well in advance of implementation and then continue to speak to people, informally and through meetings, on a frequent basis. Identify how a treasury transformation could impact certain areas of the business and try to work with colleagues to prepare and compensate for any disruption.
4. Reassure that change will be smooth
Most projects that involve significant change involve a pilot period for the new system/process. This means that, for a set trial period, you'll be running 'treasury business as usual', while testing the new payment factory/centralised system/TMS. Having a trial period while ensuring all other processes continue as normal can help to reassure all branches of your company that there will be minimal disruption.
5. Define the project with milestones
Although a treasury transformation project might feel like a huge undertaking (and most who've worked on one will agree that it is), the project can seem more feasible if it's broken down into smaller steps. By setting goals that seem achievable (e.g., starting with a selection process, a request for proposals, running a trial among a small group of clients before rolling the system, etc), everyone involved, from executives and managers to those working on the project, will be more comfortable with the project.
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