Still a lot of room for improvement for system support in treasury

Room for improvement for system support in treasury

Source: KPMG Corporate Treasury News, Edition 44, June 2015

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The majority of treasurers are satisfied with their treasury management system and believe that their system sufficiently covers compliance requirements. Deficits, especially with regard to fulfillment of current professional requirements, on the other hand, frequently lead to numerous manual activities and therefore only limited satisfaction of users with their core system.

This is a synopsis of the results of KPMG's Treasury IT Barometer, an online survey conducted between September 2014 and the middle of March 2015 among employees in treasury departments of German companies. In this survey, participants were asked to rate the treasury management system used in their company with regard to a variety of professional and technical issues. Their assessment was based on questions or statements in the following areas: 

  • Use of system functionality and questions relating to whether the current process requirements or those changed since introduction of the system have been implemented appropriately or whether a release upgrade would lead to an improvement
  • Assessment of manual effort required for reporting or that becomes necessary due to workarounds or is caused by user errors
  • Compliance requirements, such as role and authorization concepts, tracking of activities in an audit trail or existence of a standard test catalog
  • The main focus of change management was communication with the manufacturer, coordination between IT and the user department and the availability of adequate test environments.
  • The questions on system operation focused on general satisfaction with support from in-house IT or the manufacturer, system availability and whether the related responsibilities were clearly defined.
  • The assessment of cost focused on cost transparency and the issue of additional costs that are incurred through non-standard use of the TMS.
  • Questions on future viability focused on flexibility and standardization, and also the possibility of influencing system enhancements, as well as user satisfaction. 

The various responses clearly confirm the impression mentioned above that users are generally satisfied with their treasury management system in individual sub-segments such as compliance requirements or IT system operation. Issues such as change management or transparency and gaining an overview of IT cost relating to treasury were rated neutrally by the vast majority of respondents. However, especially with regard to cost, users should not accept the status quo and strive for optimization wherever feasible within treasury.

The survey participants were much more critical of the areas system functionality, manual effort and future viability. The common link between these issues is their direct daily or future use of the treasury management system. The majority of treasurers participating in the survey clearly are of the impression that: 

  • the system used does not fulfill all current requirements sufficiently, whereby the full scope of possible functions is not always clear
  • reporting, in particular, requires a lot of manual effort
  • many day-to-day problems are due to user error
  • users are not satisfied with the system

The main reason for the dissatisfaction with system support expressed in the survey evidently is the high proportion of manual activities in treasury processes. These arise because the systems in question do not sufficiently fulfill the functional requirements of treasury. This results in the risk of error, which in turn leads to dissatisfaction among users and causes additional effort and cost.

The survey did not concentrate on determining the specific sub-segments or individual processes of treasury that are in greatest need of improvement. However, it shows that there is untapped potential in the area of IT support for treasury. It should therefore be worthwhile to investigate this further. Such an analysis should start with process requirements and their current implementation. This could have the consequence that even the treasury management system currently in use may have to be entirely re-examined.

Even if it is not possible in the end to do without manual activities altogether, better use of the treasury management system or a fundamental improvement of IT support for treasury, combined with standardization of these manual activities, will significantly reduce both process risks and cost. 

Author: Karin Schmidt, Senior Manager, karinschmidt@kpmg.com

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