The rapid spread of COVID-19 is changing our lives at every level and forcing individuals, companies and other organisations to develop different ways of working and coping with a situation alien to our normal practices and routines to the extent that when the cloud passes we will undoubtedly find that many aspects of working life will not return to the old normal.
The availability of modern information and communication technology has enabled those businesses not wholly reliant upon the physical presence of its staff or customers to continue and imaginative thinking has widened the scope of possibility into other areas and projects.
When the stark realities of the coronavirus hit home, a number of company treasury departments would have been at the point of planning a project to take on new treasury technology or indeed were at the various stages of running that project and so had to put everything on hold. However, if the appetite for a new TMS remains then the project could still be run from requirements specification right through to implementation on a remote basis. We can examine the possibilities by running through the various stages of implementation.
Specification and requirements definition
Once project sponsorship has been obtained and high-level budget agreed a detailed questionnaire could be circulated to the key individuals in and around treasury in order to pull together the full details of what the company requires from the TMS and to build the requirements definition. Those individuals would only need to respond to the areas specifically designated to them and the separate responses would be checked and consolidated into the final document and signed off. Internal discussions surrounding the responses would be handled through conference calls.
RFI and supplier shortlist
The RFI would be sent to the initial shortlist of suppliers and a key question at this stage would be relating to the supplier’s ability to carry out the demonstration and workshop selection process on a remote basis and also whether the supplier is geared up for and capable of implementing the system remotely, including related training.
System demonstrations and workshops
These can be held using conferencing technology across multi-sites and the suppliers would be well versed in running these sessions. Perhaps more important than with physical meetings, the agenda and time allocation will need to be carefully planned and agreed and the content and sequence of meetings carefully managed.
Whereas an office meeting of this nature with a number of attendees would last anything from a half to a whole day with much interaction and exchanges of information and ideas, it may be preferable to divide the remote meeting into a series of smaller sessions of maybe a couple of hours that will hopefully assist greater concentration.
RFP and final selection
The RFP would be constructed using the requirements definition as its base and would be sent, completed and returned electronically as was the standard practice prior to any form of lockdown. The various methods employed to decide upon the preferred supplier may, of course, be employed remotely, whether simply through team discussion or through scoring matrices or both.
This is a key area when looking at remote working and interestingly we are seeing more TMS suppliers offering that route for implementation. The technology is there and working processes are being adapted to ensure a complete implementation that will meet clients’ needs in the current challenging environment.
Salmon Software promotes remote implementation and training as a standard method of working and FIS state they have delivered 70% of their project work remotely in the last year. Other frontline suppliers such as Bellin, Kyriba, GTreasury and TreasuryXpress (CTMfile – 27 March) also provide that capability and service but this is not an exclusive list and additional suppliers offer complete or partial remote implementation and should be considered.
It is possible that a remote implementation may be sufficient simply to have the core TMS up and running as an initial phase and more complex modules or functionality requiring on-site work could follow as subsequent phases when conditions are more favourable and staffing availability becomes clearer.
The current environment created by the pandemic and its repercussions over the coming months and years will place extra emphasis for the treasurer on accurate cash positioning, reliable cash forecasting and efficient cash management. The TMS will play a vital role in this work and the suppliers are reacting positively and quickly to provide the necessary support.
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